David Stern Can Save Basketball

Just as it seems the NFL labor dispute may be coming to a close, fans are once again slapped in the face with another lockout. The NBA lockout began at 12am this morning. It is the offseason. No one even starts thinking NBA until October, and yet you should be worried.

Don’t be worried because players will not be able to use team facilities. Don’t be worried because injured players like Knicks PG Toney Douglous will not be able to use the Knicks team doctors or training staff for his rehab. But be afraid!

The gap between players and owners is far greater than the gap we started out with in the NFL. NBA insiders like Chris Sheridan of ESPN New York would not be surprised if the entire season would be missed. He said yesterday on the Michael Kay Show that he does not expect a deal until January- half way through the regular season schedule.

Not only should you be afraid, but you should be angry and disappointed. The NBA was more interesting and entertaining this season than it has been in a long time. Starting with the buzz “The Decision” garnered to the Knicks becoming relevant again, and the Mavericks defeating the Heat in the NBA Finals, the NBA was at least watchable again.

Both the NBA owners and Players Association need to realize that if they deprive basketball fans of NBA action, they will go somewhere else! College basketball is considered by many basketball purists to be a better game. It’s the same game played by amateurs who play for enjoyment, not compensation. It entertains without all the dunking, traveling, and bad refereeing.

By missing a considerable amount of action, fans will be turned off and notice that stark differences between professional and collegiate basketball. Collegiate basketball is attractive because of it’s pure passion. The NBA however will be looked at as a league of full greed.

This is likely going to be NBA Commissioner David Stern’s last CBA negotiation. He will want to “leave his mark” on the league, and continue his solid reputation. He has the opportunity though, to leave his mark, not by helping the owners make money, but by settling out this agreement before basketball is missed.

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