Sports

NBA and fans not getting along

I’ve written about the lockout — the disputes, the finances, the repercussions. I wanted to drop it and write about something that doesn’t remind me of the enduring heartbreak and frustration. However, the NBA/fan relationship has hit its most rocky point, threatening to be permanently tarnished.

That’s right, I said “permanently.”

The term being widely used in the media is “nuclear winter.” The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) rejected the owners’ most recent offer and is taking the owners to court to settle this dispute with arbitration. If not a bargaining tactic, this pretty much closes the books on an NBA season.

Fans have a good memory. We will not gloss over this whole fiasco when this lockout is ended. We won’t get swept away in the excitement of the NBA games and forget the misery we’ve suffered. The game is slowly losing what keeps it thriving.

In the meantime, what have we been doing? I find myself watching hockey, paying a lot more attention to college football than usual, and growing exponentially more fed up with the NBA. Fans are cheating on the NBA; we are finding entertainment elsewhere. And it is not safe to assume the fans will come crawling back. I probably will, but as I said, permanent damage has been done, and it’s possible that others won’t.

Who would have thought it would come to this after the NBA saw an increase in viewership and merchandise revenue, as it did in the 2010–2011 season? When Lebron James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat, the hatred he sparked drew many new fans to the game. In Phil Jackson’s last season, ending his career as the greatest coach in NBA history, Laker fans were glued to their television sets all season, rooting for him to complete the threepeat and retire in glory. When Carmelo Anthony was traded from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks, a franchise was reborn and a city was rejuvenated.

We are now missing the chance to see if James and the Heat can come back from that tough finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks and win a title. We won’t see if the Mavericks can defend their unprecedented finals victory. We won’t see Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant break more scoring records. We won’t see where Dwight Howard and Chris Paul will land via free agency and trade. This season, which we are so close to losing, was bent for great basketball and exciting debate.

However, I am tired of debating the logistics of the proposed deals. I just want basketball back. I want to watch basketball on Christmas Day with my family. Why do I have to be deprived of that?
Instead I am forced to get my basketball fix by watching highlight reels on YouTube. It’s only kind of working; I’m still in basketball remission.

The lockout will be a permanent black mark on the NBA. When people read through the record books and see a gap in years between the 2011 and 2013 NBA champions, they will be reminded. It is something that won’t go away, even when it is all over and the dust has settled.

We NBA fans are tired of all the back-and-forth, the uncertainty, and the hostility. I no longer care about what the NBPA and owners are nitpicking at to try to get a fair deal for themselves; they need to realize that there’s a big-picture point of these negotiations — to get back on the court.