So it looks like the NBA season is going to be cancelled. This would be worrisome to me if I didn’t already have the NFL season to focus on. Thankfully the NFL was able to resolve their issues and move forward with the season more or less right on schedule. Sure, there was basically no training camps, OTAs were held by players rather than teams, and we missed out on the Hall of Fame game, but other than that we are going to have an entire season that fans can enjoy (or not). This is not likely to be the case for the NBA season. Both sides represented in the collective bargaining agreement are far from reaching a new contract and, unlike the NFL, these players actually have some leverage, so the threat of work stoppage won’t be a factor to anyone except the fans. Whereas the NFL is wildly popular in the United States, its impact anywhere else in the world is negligible. Go to Spain and ask some kid who his favorite football player is and he’ll probably tell you it’s Lionel Messi or David Villa. He might not have even heard of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. But ask that same kid who his favorite basketball player is and he’ll likely name the starting power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. What does that tell you? If both sides are still at an impasse come November, do you think Pau Gasol is going to have any trouble finding work abroad? That’s why the player’s association is encouraging players like Kobe Bryant to ink deals with foreign teams: so that the owners get a clear understanding of who needs who.
That being said, there’s probably a good chance that the NBA season eventually takes place a few months behind schedule. The 1998/99 season started February 5th, five days after the Broncos beat the Falcons (who weren’t even supposed to be there) in SuperBowl XXXIII. The lockout had pushed the season back to the point where they just did away with the All-Star break and decided to shorten the season to 50 games. Most people didn’t even notice.
Which brings up a good idea. No one is really going to care about regular season NBA games being missed when we have a fully functioning NFL season to take our minds off of things. In fact, no one really cares about regular season games not being missed because we have a fully functioning NFL season to take our minds off of things. Usually when the NBA season starts the NFL is in the home stretch of its regular season, full of meaningful games as teams are scratching and clawing, trying to make their way into the post-season. Even as a die-hard Bulls fan, I’d rather watch a game that I’ve spent the last four months building up an emotional investment towards than see Derrick Rose & company win or lose the first few of the eighty-two games they’ll play that season. So why not just start the NBA season right after the NFL season ends?
Think about it. Instead of having to compete with the NFL over TV ratings in November, December, and January, all the NBA has to do is shift its season back three months and they’ll pick up all the residual attention spans of the fans looking to place their feelings of disappointment elsewhere. What’s even better is that instead of the NBA finals ending the second week of June, they’d end the second week of September. Or in other words, right in time for the NFL season. Oh, and instead of having the All-Star Break weekend in mid-February, it’ll take place in May when the weather is much nicer. Can you imagine having the rookie/sophomore game being played in Rucker’s Park? A three-point competition being effected by the wind in The Windy City? So why not take advantage of extra television revenue, why not cash in on the fantasy boom that has been so lucrative for the NFL (no one has time to draft a fantasy basketball team when they already have twelve fantasy football teams to keep track of), and why not relieve sport fans of those three months of limbo in between seasons?
Hopefully the NBA can reach an agreement and hopefully they can resolve this lockout situation. Hopefully the Bulls can swindle Dwight Howard out of Orlando with the promise of numerous championships to come. Hopefully I’ll see you court side during the Finals in late August.