Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why I (Sadly) Stopped Caring about the NBA This Season

This is replacing an NHL prediction post (which I normally do write about, but antihistamines said 'no' to that happening). I think it's pretty good though.

66 games.
One more number and you have a hell of an explanation (see what I did there).

To me, it was more like 66 games of "let's pretend that the season actually mattered." I'm not saying it because the 76ers (my hometown team) didn't make it. I really didn't even care about that. It just seemed like the whole season was thrown together amidst a whole bunch of legal hullaballoo.

In my eyes, there has always been a thing about lockouts and how they can totally ruin a league or a season. The NBA hasn't had a great track record when it comes to coming to terms in their Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the past fifteen years, four lockouts have happened. Two of those lockouts lasted from five to six months, bleeding into the regular season. This year's wasn't as bad as the one during the 1998-1999 season, but it required a lot of stupidity and business explosions to get it pretty darned close.

There are a lot of simple things that a lockout can do to a league:
-- Lesser interest
-- Lower attendance figures
-- Lousy team chemistry, due to possible forbidding of team practices (unless behind closed doors)
-- Amount of sponsorship decreases due to inability to resume contract negotiations with companies.

It's pretty nasty from a business/marketing standpoint as well as the standpoint of the media and the audience. What's even worse is how things have to get thrown together for a late start even after the CBA was finalized mid-season. You know what? The NHL is a good example of this occurrence. I'll mention the NHL in this post because it's a darn good example and I feel bad that I didn't write anything about the Stanley Cup Finals this year.

Just like the NBA, the NHL doesn't have a great record when it comes to this stuff. In a history that has seen a shortened season, a canceled season, and a players' strike, you almost have to wonder what's going to happen in the upcoming offseason since their CBA will be expiring soon. Yes, I said it. Soon. As in "we're going to be watching more worrisome coverage on ESPN and the NHL Network about the NHL CBA after the Stanley Cup Finals cease" soon.

But anyway, the National Hockey League knows what it's like to lose fans. Franchises know what it's like to lose massive revenue due to no play and no endorsements. Players...well, players can flock to another league somewhere outside of North America. However, this was kind of a big deal. In fact, many of the players were the points of blame for the lockout. According to reports, salaries for many players were ridiculously higher than what team salary caps offered, and that there was not a good amount of control between the owners and the teams themselves. There was also an issue about supply and demand when it came to ticket sales and how there was a loophole in financial statements. It got super complicated.

For one thing, the lockout certainly separated the fans from the bandwagon riders. Plus, for all of eternity, Lord Stanley's Cup now has a bald spot on it (it's okay, Big Bowl...I had one too).

Back to the NBA...for a league to have experienced four lockouts, it's going to take a while for certain organizations to recover even though the NBA Playoffs are doing substantially well (and all of the Sonics fans back in Seattle are crying). The five months of the lockout were five months lost as far as business goes, and hopefully their recent CBA is good enough to renew without argument next time around. As far as many fan bases, certain cities can draw some massive crowds (Boston, LA, Dallas, Chicago, etc), but there are some cities that had to beg and plead for crowds (New Jersey, New Orleans, Charlotte--I don't have to get into that one) not only because of poor play, but because they didn't have anything to show for it before the season even started. I think I would have cared more about the NBA season if it was hyped after the CBA was approved and ratified. It's like everything ran into itself once the ratification process happened.

Don't get me wrong, I'll probably watch the NBA Finals and everything, but I'm not going to take it seriously. This year was a speed bump.

Do you agree?