What the NBA is Really Losing

We've all heard the back and forth from the owners and the players. The players want 53% of the BRI. The owners' offer is 47%. The players want 52% but the owners offer 48%. The players want 53% but the owners say their final offer is a 50-50 split. In fact, Herr Stern gave the players the ultimatum that if they didn't take the 50% offer by the end of the business day yesterday, the offer would go back to the 47% and would not go above that again.

The deadline came and went yesterday with the two sides still negotiating and Herr Stern said that he suspended the deadline as they are still talking. Reports last night before the session broke up was that they are close and could get a deal done soon. Excuse me if I am a bit skeptical. We've heard that before. After the 18 hour marathon session a week ago or so, they were reportedly very close. Then suddenly the next day they were talking about losing the whole season.

In the meantime, a whole month of the season has been cancelled. Both owners and players are losing money every day they don't play. They've already lost more money this season than either side would have over the length of the CBA by giving just a little and ending this thing before games had to be cancelled. But is money all that is at stake in the lockout?  In my opinion, the NBA is losing way more than money. They seem to forget that the money they are so busy fighting over comes from us, the fans. If the fans don't go to games, order League Pass, buy merchandise, etc, then the owners and players don't have any money to argue over. And the longer this lockout goes, the more fans they risk losing..

I'm a die hard Celtics fan. I have been for decades. Back in the 1998-99 season I really felt like giving up on the league. We had to wait until February for the season to start. I lost interest in the games and in what was going on in a shortened season with way too many games crammed in too short a time. It took me another couple of seasons before I fully forgave them and got back to being an NBA fanatic again. And it was years before the NBA recovered from that lockout and started gaining their fans back.

Now, here we are again. I really missed the games at the start of this season but the longer this lockout goes on, just as in 1999, the less I really miss it. The league ended last season on a popularity high. There were a lot of new fans who were just developing a love for the NBA. The Miami Heat had a whole bandwagon full of fans. Now, many of the newer fans that I've talked to have already lost interest are on to other sports. 

The league and the players have ignored the feelings of the fans throughout this whole debacle. The NFL had a lockout but they were smart enough to know that missing games and alienating fans was the worst thing they could do. The NBA hasn't been so smart and they are losing fans and alienating the ones they aren't losing. It will take them years to get back to the popularity they had before they started this whole lockout thing.

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. The NBA is losing a lot more than just money. They are losing good will. They are losing popularity. And most of all, they are losing fans. Just as in 1999, it's going to take them years to regain what they are losing by playing their ego games. By posturing and refusing to compromise, both sides are insulting their fans who have supported them and paid out the millions of dollars that they have profited from in the past. Even if they come to a decision today, they have already lost more than they will ever gain.