NBA Fan Voice: Ballers are workers too


        It’s easy to be only on the side of basketball. At base, the players don’t have real problems. If they settle with the owners at the most prejudicial proposal the owners have had, they’ll still make several to many millions of dollars a year. Yes, it’s a more real possibility than is generally admitted that someone could get an unexpected injury, derailing a career, and without an insured contract some young kid might find themselves with no saving AND no other skills to recommend them in the job market.

       Still, I would guess an average NBA salary intake, over a career, is three or more million dollars and if you gave me that money I think I could more or less figure out a way to make it last.

     But at a certain point, I don’t think this is about scale.


Every thing on the table is less than the players are currently making. Everything the players are trying to do is to get less less. Which, again, is way more than any of the rest of us are getting. Consider, though:

The reason the players can’t ask for even what they ARE getting is that they have no power. The owners have it. That’s true, too, in businesses all across this nation.  The owners, who are really really rich people compared to the players’ really rich people, are going to stop a whole season from happening, if they have to, because they can.

We are told they have to because the business model is unsustainable. It isn’t, for several reasons. First of all, who created the business model? Who signed the players to deals that put them in the red, if that’s really what happened? Suddenly that’s unsustainable.

The owners are, flat out, trying to keep from having to compete with each other in a way that might conceivably harm them financially. They are not trying to remake the rules so that there’s no need for any one of them to take a financial risk because they know no one else is allowed to. No one held a gun to their heads and said sign Rashard Lewis for 90 mil. They’re demanding reform that says no one else will sign Rashard Lewis for 89 mil so I don’t have to pay 90.

You never HAD to. 29 teams successfully avoided it, somehow.

Do you have any idea what LeBron James would cost if there was no salary cap? If things are so bad, where are basketball’s Yankees anyway? Wouldn’t that be the Heat? And wasn’t that a team that was clamoring for JAMES JONES to come back in the NBA Finals? Didn’t they start Joel Anthony?

It’s not like the soft-cap-luxury-tax combo isn’t working.

The second reason it’s NOT unsustainable is that, while you need something like 450 players for a league, you need 30 owners and maybe 50 minority owners.

Mikhail Prokhorov just bought a team. He’s worth 18 billion dollars. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, wasn’t ALLOWED to buy a team and he’s worth 33 billion. Know how many Rashard Lewis’s Larry Ellison could have paid? Over 360.

If Robert Sarver doesn’t want to own an NBA, he should sell it to Ellison. You know what happens to everyone else when stuff they want gets too expensive? Like, say, season tickets? They don’t buy them. They don’t get to meet and make rules that season tickets won’t go over this amount. They don’t get to do that because there are thirty more richer people behind them who are perfectly happy not to have to deal with the riff raff any more.

That’s how life works for everyone else because we don’t have cabals.

So, yes, I want basketball want, a lot. For starters I’m really searching for story ideas. And yes, I know it’s the players who are going to have to give up their demands eventually, because the owners are businessmen with lots of other things going on and at least most of the players aren’t. And because it’s the players who are going to lose a year from their primes, and the stats that go along with it, and that’ll eat at a guy like Kobe, while the owners will just take one small step closer to the grave.

You’ll excuse me, however, if I still feel, even if the players are multimillionaires, that this is just one more area of American society where the rights of employees are eroding, because they have to work to make money, and those providing the work don’t.

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