Tag Archives: forward with a lawsuit against the team owners

Love and Basketball

Basketball has surely been missed. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do like football and basketball (players). I also like the spectacle of watching a live basketball game at a stadium. I recently noticed that my holiday season this year won’t be the same. I do not have a Detroit Pistons game to attend this year during Thanksgiving with my closest friends. I’m sure I’m not the only person who realizes how much basketball is connected to an event or tradition in our lives. The only thing on television right now related to professional basketball is VH1’s Basketball Wives LA. Trust me, it’s not the same experience at all.  

What amazes me is that although I don’t know much about the team rosters, their specific star players, scores and what not, I do know that basketball is a business. In business you have occasional conflict between employers and employees. And all businesses have had to adjust due to the changes in the economic climate. Many companies have had massive layoffs and closures. Some businesses have gone completely out of business in the last ten years. While other companies have grown into huge behemoths because of our need to save more money, while sacrificing quality (ala Walmart). Everyone has been impacted in one way or another forcing us to sometimes make unpleasant sacrifices and adapt in the face of adversity. To pay or not to pay, has become the question in many households and for many businesses, including the NBA.  

People love basketball. The game, the competitiveness, the hotdogs. Some very memorial movies have been written around the love of basketball over the years [Hoosiers (1986), White Men Can’t Jump (1992), Above The Rim (1994), Sunset Park (1996), He Got Game (1998), {my all time favorite} Love and Basketball (2000), Finding Forrester (2000), Coach Carter (2005), Glory Road (2006), and Just Wright (2010)]. Basketball has wrapped its arms around us and baptized our modern culture with its influence in every aspect, from the way we dress to what we eat, from what products and cars we buy to what we name our kids [fast forward a few years from now and see a young LeBron Jenkins starting kindergarten]. It crosses many demographics. It’s not unusal to see some of the biggest names in entertainment, business, banking, technology and manufacturing sitting at any game, in any stadium, at anytime, across the country during basketball season. You might have even sat next to a business mogul or millionaire at the last game you attended. FYI – all wealthy people don’t sit court side and they don’t all make it onto TMZ.

When it comes to professional athletes, I’ve always thought that they get paid a great deal of money to do what they love – play a game – and entertain us. They are one out of one thousand young men with a dream who made it into the position they have. Some of it was based on talent, some of it was determination, but most of it is a blessing. For every Michael Jordan there is a Michael Williams, who played basketball just as well, if not better, but didn’t get the same opportunity. Unfortunately, I also feel that many professional athletes don’t appreciate the place they hold in society because they have been reckless with their money and their morals. So much so that morals clauses and dress codes had to be implemented by the league in an attempt to encourage them to (at least appear to) be more socially responsible and keep their dirt out of the media. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t.

This week the NBA players decided to disband its union so that it can now move forward with a lawsuit against the team owners. This occurs after they declined an offer according to NBA Commissioner David Stern “that does not call for a reduction on contract, does not call for a hard cap, does not call for the absence of guaranteed contracts and will see salaries go from over $5 million to between $7 million and $8 million during the length of the deal”. WOW! Talk about biting the hand! I’m sure that there are many people like me that would LOVE that kind of contract where we work. However, we’re not professional athletes, are we? Many of us will never see a million dollars, let alone FIVE to EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS. For many of us that would be more than enough money to retire on and live off of for the remainder of our lives. Apparently, it’s not good enough for the NBA players. They’ve lived above their means, haven’t saved and haven’t invested wisely. They need more money and more basketball related income. But is it a need, or greed?

This raises many questions. Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil? What happened to the love of the game? Is it possible that so many of the players have squandered their earnings over the years that they wouldn’t be satisfied with any contract other than the one they sought to begin with? Why are the owners responsible for covering the players inability to be financially responsible with the money they already earn? Does your job give you a raise because you gamble or have a house and car you can’t afford to own? None of the players should be hurting financially. Have you see their paychecks and endorsement deals? Even the lowest paid players on each team make high six figure salaries, which is more than most middle class families see in a lifetime. I can’t feel bad for them when I know people who struggle just to pay their rent every month. Did the players also forget that unless fans buy tickets to see them play, they aren’t worth all the zeroes on their paychecks? Who is going to buy tickets to watch a bunch of out of shape basketball players run up and down the court in February 2012 (or later, if they remain greedy) when they can watch NCAA college basketball for less money or for free? Everyone likes FREE STUFF.

Fans who love the game, for the game, have other options. I’ll be watching Love and Basketball this weekend.

Although I’m skeptical and hopeful that an agreement will be reached that will satisfy both sides, I still have love for basketball (players). If worse comes to worse, the owners can always hire replacement players, pay them less money and possibly recruit new talent at the same time. There are many talented and entertaining players playing overseas, in the And 1 Basketball League and even the Harlem Globetrotters. Maybe Michael Williams will finally get a shot at his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. After all, basketball is still a business.

♦ I bet Tom Gores wasn’t expecting this when he bought the Pistons.