This was the day the Association officially cancelled the first regular season games of the '98-'99 campaign. Atrocious news for all basketball fans. The Magic had 6 contests scratched off their schedule (with plenty more to come). Penny Hardaway didn't really come up with any groundbreaking statements, which displayed how very little informed many of the players were on the situation. On the other hand, Darrell Armstrong appears more than frustrated with his comments.
The damage had been done as far as failing to avoid another tarnishing of the NBA goes. Unfortunately for us spectators, the owners and players union really didn't do enough to prevent the existence of two lockouts in just 13 years. Especially considering how much momentum, resulting from the phenomenal 2011 Playoffs, could have been carried over into the '11-'12 season. We've visually witnessed what work stoppages did to the likes of baseball, hockey, and the NBA when it came to massive attendance, fan interest, and revenue losses resulting from bad negotiating. It's like having both your legs chopped off when you were trying to improve your vertical leaping ability. The punishment far outweighs any possible gains you were expecting to make.
For the people of Orlando's sake, this Lockout needs to end pronto. The City Beautiful has the most on the line. A superstar potentially bailing whether a game is played or not, and an All-Star Weekend that would bring much needed fan fare and revenue to our downtown area. No season or a severely shortened one means David Stern can't award this community another All-Star Game until possibly 2014, promises or not.
Area pro basketball fans can make other plans for Nov. 3.
That was to be the night the Orlando Magic tipped off their 10th NBA season by hosting the Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Arena.
On Tuesday, the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the regular season after the players union and owners failed to make any substantial progress in their labor dispute.
``The fact that they had to cancel games must mean that things are getting pretty bad,'' Magic guard Penny Hardaway said. ``I don't think anybody ever thought it would come to this.''
The 411 NBA players, including some 200 free agents, have been locked out since July 1. All basketball operations have been shut down indefinitely, pending a new collective bargaining agreement.
With no breakthrough in sight, the start of training camps, which had been slated for Oct. 6, as well as the exhibition season, had been earlier casualties of the labor impasse.
``The reality is that the owners had no choice,'' NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
In addition to the Mavericks' game, other Orlando Arena homedates scrapped on Tuesday are a Nov. 11 contest with Sacramento and former Florida point guard Jason Williams, and a Nov.13 meeting with Toronto and former Daytona Beach Mainland High star Vince Carter.
Altogether, the Magic will lose six games. Early November road contests at Miami, Detroit and Toronto also were wiped out. There is no chance those games can be made up later.
``I know the fans are really going to be getting involved now [voicing their displeasure],'' Hardaway said.
``But the owners are trying to do what's best for them and we're trying to do what's best for us. All we can do now is hope that no more games are canceled.''
A more pressing concern for players, however, may be the lost wages they'll face as a result of the lockout. NBA contracts are typically structured to pay a set amount for each of the 82 regular-season games.
Salaries are handed out every two weeks and will vary in amount depending on the number of games played during a particular pay period.
The union and owners are awaiting a decision by arbitrator John Feerick as to whether the 200-plus players currently with guaranteed contracts are entitled to receive their money.
The Magic have only five players under contract for the 1998-99 season: Hardaway, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw and Johnny Taylor. Together they stand to lose more than $1.4 million for the six games canceled.
The Magic have eight more players who are free agents, though not all of them were expected to return: Danny Schayes, Darrell Armstrong, Derek Strong, Gerald Wilkins, Derek Harper, Kevin Edwards, David Benoit and Jason Lawson.
``Both sides have been moving too slow on this, so you had to expect that this would happen,'' Armstrong said. ``I'm very disappointed. Even if you put the money issues and everything aside, the bottom line is I love to play basketball. This [lockout] hurts the fans, and it hurts us, too.''
Orlando picked up four more players in the June NBA draft, including a trio of first-rounders - Michael Doleac, Keon Clark and Matt Harpring, along with second-rounder Miles Simon. All of their careers remain on hold.
Oddly enough the rookie salary scale, which was one of the key issues in the previous collective bargaining agreement, appears to be one of the few issues that both sides agree upon. The rookies are expected to have their minimum contract expanded from three years to five years with club options on the last year.
If and when an agreement is reached, there will be a mad scramble to get players signed and into abbreviated training camps.
``The worst part,'' Atlanta-based agent Stephen M. Woods said, ``is that whenever this is resolved, [free-agent] players are going to have something like 15 minutes to make decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.''
For better or for worse, the players insist they've gone too far to turn back.
``We've waited this long, so there's no reason to break from the union ranks right now,'' Armstrong said.
``The damage has already been done. We're already supposed to have been in the second week of training camp. But I guess both sides are doing what they think is right.''