The NBA Lockout: A $4 Billion Dollar Game Of Chicken
I keep having this wild & vivid reoccurring dream and it scares me to death. Not because it feels so real. Because it probably is.
I’m sitting in the middle seat of a McLaren F1, traveling at some obnoxious speed. Not sure how fast I’m going but I know I’m moving at a dangerous rate. one wrong move and I’m toast.
The catch is that I’m not driving. I don’t even have a steering wheel in front of me. The cars traveling straight as an arrow but I start to panic because I know that if this thing doesn’t come to a stop soon, somethings bound to go wrong.
I look to my right and Derek Fishers sitting there and he has the steering wheel.
"Hey, Shane. Don’t worry, I got this."
No words, just thoughts. As I ponder how experienced Fisher is at driving this fast or if he really knows how to handle a car like this or if he’s got some kind of secret plan he’s trying to execute I scan around the car.
To my left is Billy Hunter. And he’s got a steering wheel, too.
"Hey, Shane. Don’t worry, I got this," mumbles Billy.
All I can think about is why are we going so fast and what are we driving towards? Are we late for something? Does someone need our help? What’s waiting at the end of this journey? Will we even make it that far?
As a million thoughts are racing through my head as this ridiculously expensive car is racing through my dreams. I’m both angry and scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I have no control of the outcome. And then it happens. I suddenly realize I don’t have a seat belt on.
This isn’t even the strange part.
Some how in this dream, I’m also sitting in a completely different car. The car, might be different, but the situation is identical. It’s also just as confusing and reckless.
I’m sitting in the middle, once again, but this time I’m in the back seat.
Michael Jordan’s at the wheel.
Sure, this sounds like a dream, but let me reassure you that it’s not. This is definitely a nightmare.
"Don’t worry, I got this," Mike tells me.
If you didn’t spot the difference, I didn’t either. not at first, but Jordan’s a little less friendly than I remembered him. In fact the entire feeling of this ride is a bit more curt than it was in the McLaren.
I scan around the car and I see a lot of recognizable faces, but none of them are comforting. Paul Allen is on his Blackberry, trying to order a championship from Amazon.com, Dan Gilbert’s sitting to my right, throwing bundles of money at anyone who’s heard of the Cavs and Robert Sarver’s to my left, just laughing hysterically.
David Stern’s in here, if you were wondering, but he doesn’t say much. He’s gagged and tied up in the trunk. Right next to a giant pile of money.
"What’s all that money," I ask.
"That’s our revenues, son, this car runs on it. You’re sitting in the one and only BRI50. It’s a one of a kind SUV that burns money as fuel," yells Gilbert as Sarver keeps cackling like a hyena in the background.
"We got about $3.5 billion left to burn. It’s going to be a long ride until Hardline County" says Jordan.
At this very moment I realize where this cars headed. We’re driving directly at the McLaren. Doesn’t matter how much fuel we have to burn, Jordan and company are determined to get there.
Peter Holt chimes in over the bluetooth system of the car, “When you hit them, Michael, hit them hard. They haven’t felt enough pain yet.”
David Stern starts mumbling something and I can’t quite figure it out. I don’t know if it’s the gag in his mouth or that he’s never given it to us straight. I can’t even think about what he’s saying, my brain chemicals are running wild. I’m both angry and scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I have no control of the outcome. And then it happens. I suddenly realize that Daivd’s trying to inform me that I don’t have a seat belt on.
What makes the situation worse is that I can’t wake up from it. I mean, I can wake up, but even in the real world, this same game of chicken is happening. Both the NBPA and the NBA’s owners have decided that their going to put $4 billion dollars of annual revenue on the line and see which side cracks first. Both sides have dug in deep, held their ground in the most stubborn of ways and are daring the other side to test their resolve.
The Union is demanding that the players take their generous concessions and start the season already. The owners are demanding rollbacks of nearly $2 billion dollars over the life of the CBA. The stalemate here is that neither side wants to negotiate much in these so-called negotiations.
Or do they.
The players union announced the other day that they’d probably be willing to take a 50/50 BRI split if all the system changes made sense.
Owners had threatened to drop their 50/50 offer to 47/53 if players didn’t agree to it by Wednesday. Wednesday came and went and the owners didn’t budge.
Both sides know that they are hurling themselves at one another at a reckless velocity. Not only do they have to be careful not to lose control of their own vehicles, they have to make sure they can survive the crash.
Not just their own survival. My survival as well.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I represent the fans in my dream. We’re as entrenched in the situation as they are. Sure, we didn’t buy the car, fill the gas or drive it down the road, but we are on board and we are scared.
The truth of the matter is that this lockout was once about economics and revenues and legitimate concerns about the leagues long term survivability. We’re well past that now. Most of the concessions both sides have made would have ensured profitability for most of the league and a system that was fair enough for both players and teams.
This has gone beyond logic and numbers and entered into the dangerous world of egos. This lock out has become a giant dick swinging contest, only no ones really down to fuck. Well, perhaps that’s not true. They’ve been fucking the fans for at least 10 days now and I don’t see this car slowing down anytime soon.
Hope you got your seat belts on.
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