By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) My advice to NBA fans is simple.
Don’t blame the owners for the lack of professional basketball in the middle of November. Don’t blame the players for nixing the latest offer earlier this week, thus extending the delay until at least mid-December, and quite possibly, until the 2012-13 season.
Instead, focus your anger towards NBA commissioner David Stern.
He is the problem.
I know many of us just wished that the players would have went ahead and accepted the latest (and possibly final) offer so we could just get back to watching basketball, but you can’t blame them for doing so.
It goes deeper than what we fans tend to think we know.
To many of us, all we see are a bunch of millionaires arguing with a bunch of billionaires over who is going make even more money. People are quick to say, “People would kill to get paid millions of dollars for playing a game. Millions are losing jobs left and right, and yet these idiots don’t think they make enough money?”
I was guilty of feeling this way at one time, too.
But then it all hit me.
Why should I be blaming the players for wanting more money? I would want more money, too. And so would you. Don’t get mad because the “talent” gets paid very well to do their jobs.
The players are the reason people pay good money to attend games, not the owners (well, maybe we could make an exception for Mark Cuban). We don’t sit around and talk about our favorite owners. We don’t play fantasy owner leagues. We don’t buy jerseys with the owner of our favorite team’s name on the back.
So why are the players being vilified for wanting to make as much money as they can?
The NBPA was smart by rejecting the latest proposal this past Monday. It put the ball (no pun intended) back in the owners’ court. Any union worth their salt would have done the same thing. To them, it’s not about just getting back to work. It’s about getting the best deal possible, and if they didn’t feel like that proposal was in their best interest, they didn’t have to accept it — regardless of what fans want.
People can say that is being childish all they want, but the real brat has been David Stern all along.
Stern has been acting like a spoiled brat since the lockout began back in July, and his latest hissy-fit has made him look like an even bigger tool. After the NBPA rejected the offer Monday, Stern called the union’s decision a “charade” and felt that their action in the matter was “irresponsible at this late date.”
The only reason Stern thinks the players should have accepted the latest offer was because that group of 450 guys is making him and the owners look like fools in the eyes of the public. He can believe that not accepting the deal will make the NBPA self-destruct all he wants, but I see a united front. The NBPA isn’t on the verge of self-destruction. They are making a smart business move. It’s not about settling just to get back to work. It is about ensuring financial security down the road. Why is that so wrong?
It is clear Stern does not like to be played for a fool, and right now, he has plenty of egg on his face. The players are making him and the owners look bad, so what better way to deflect that negative attention away from himself and his peers than by deflecting the negative attention back on the players?
Stern has alienated his players for the past four and a half months and is now realizing that he is losing control of the situation. They say you should never bite the hand that feeds you. Well, Mr. Stern, the 450 men staring at you from across the room are the hands that feed you. If it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t have a job, and you—most likely– wouldn’t be making $7 million per year (or more than half of the players). You make the money you do because of the players, so instead of vilifying them, you should be thanking them for making your life better.
The NBPA deserves credit—as hard is it may be to do–for not caving in to agreeing on a deal just to get a paycheck. It takes guts to possibly walk away from millions of dollars this season in order to secure a better deal for the future.
David Stern can throw all the temper-tantrums he wants, but he is the main reason we are not watching professional basketball right now. People don’t like to be given ultimatums. They don’t like hearing someone trying to bully them, and they certainly don’t like being told they are in the wrong when it takes two sides to get to a certain point where talks begin to break down.
If the commissioner wants to see basketball operations resume after Dec. 15, he would be wise to stop calling out the players for their “lack” of cooperation. All he is doing is pushing them further away, and if he continues to push, he can forget about NBA basketball in 2011-12.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.