NBA Gets Locked Out

“Love the game no matter what.”

This is the slogan that the Jordan brand has decided to go with for its latest ad campaign. Its new commercials depict a trio of superstars balling it up in a variety of locales — at a local pickup game, a retirement home and even a park in Beijing.

But not once are they shown playing in their native habitat, in a stadium — and I guess that was the point. The ads were tailored to the abnormality of present circumstances, conveying the notion that players cannot seem to put down the basketball, seeking to satisfy their unwavering thirst for the game even in light of the unfortunate NBA lockout.

And here in the real world, such passion can be readily observed. Players like Rajon Rondo, LeBron James and Dwight Howard have hosted exhibition games all across the country, bringing together veterans and rookies alike in light-hearted scrimmages for the fans, often donating the generated revenue to various charities.

But such love seems to be devoid within the negotiations between the players union and the team owners. With yet another proposition scrapped and diplomacy at an uneasy standstill, the world’s hopes for a salvaged NBA season this year only continue to grow dimmer and dimmer.

The two sides have been at this cat and mouse game for nearly half a year now, convening and reconvening in hotel rooms to try and define the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement which, in light of the most recent meeting, does not show signs of materializing any time soon.

The basis of the disagreements are founded upon the fact that players have previously earned 57 percent of the league’s earnings under the expired contract, leaving 43 percent for the owners, who claim that this puts them at an annual deficit. Owners have therefore pushed to lessen or eliminate this revenue discrepancy altogether, most recently suggesting a 50-50 split, a deal that the players have obviously rejected.

Being a fan, it is rather difficult to maintain a sense of unbiased objectivity on the matter. All I really want is to be able to root for my favorite teams and players again, to take a break from all this schoolwork and watch the games with some chips and dip, possibly even join a fantasy league.

And yet even with all these superficial motives aside, I still believe that both sides of the table are displaying deplorable amounts of greed and selfishness. They are spitting upon the face of a great game for the sake of their collective gluttony, robbing the world of what could have been another incredible season to ensure that their paychecks remain excessively large.

What both the players and the owners fail to grasp is that they are codependent on one another. The owners would not have a business without the skill of the players, while the players would not have an organized year-round league to compete and train in without the vast resources of the owners.

The issue of profitability is in actuality one of extravagant excess. Players and owners alike have grown accustomed to multi-million dollar lives to complement their multi-million dollar salaries, buying for themselves custom supercars and colossal mansions — luxuries that are undoubtedly as expensive to maintain as they are to purchase. The issue at hand — the issue that is depriving sports fans all around the globe — is not one of life or death, nor is it one of honor or injustice, or of rather anything else worth fighting over.

It is a question of whether every player and owner should be earning six figures or eight.

And what is more is that the players union and the owners both seem to forget that their relationship with each other is not nearly as important as their relationship with us, the fan base. We are the revenue stream. We are the people who buy their tickets and jerseys and boost their ratings on TV. We are what make them relevant and rich beyond belief. We are the reason why amazing has been allowed to happen, year after year after year.

We are the NBA, and right now, we are being ignored.

Benjamin Hong is a second-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at bshong@uci.edu.