Hopefully the mediation that's currently ongoing will produce unexpected progress. There's not really a focal theme in this L.C. Johnson and Tim Povtak collaboration other than the fact that sports fans get screwed over. A lot. This is a lengthy piece and worth a read despite how jumpy the topics become. Here's a small excerpt:
The slogan used to be: NBA action is FAN-tastic.
Commissioner David Stern may have to come up with a new catch phrase to lure pro basketball fans back by the time this league-imposed lockout is lifted.
It's a problem baseball has faced, as well as professional football and hockey. All have recovered with fans, though baseball struggled until Mark McGwire's and Sammy Sosa's race for the single-season home run record heated up this season.
Now it's the NBA's turn. Two weeks of the season have been canceled already, snapping a streak of more than 35,000 games played. Though some progress was made Friday when owners agreed to consider the players proposal of a luxury tax, it's possible that even more of the season will be canceled soon.
Privately, league insiders see a Dec. 1 start date at the earliest, meaning the first month of the season will be wiped out.
Baseball has endured three strikes, the last of which forced the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and carried over into the start of the '95 season. Hockey suffered through a lockout, which wiped out nearly half of the '94-'95 season. Football, which has operated in virtual labor harmony for the past 10 seasons, endured a strike in 1982 and again in 1989, the latter which saw replacement players take the field briefly.
``The process [the NBA) is going through to try to work their problems out was inevitable,'' said Richard Cripeau, professor of history at the University of Central Florida. ``It's Labor 101, a conflict between labor and management. You're dealing with an enormous amount of money and it's a matter of who's going to get the most.''