I’m a union man. Always have been, always will be. Turns out I love money as much as the next guy; capital is one of my favorite isms. All the same, I don’t like living in a culture driven to a sickening degree by a corporate oligarchy. And I know enough about American history to know how much blood it cost — no metaphor — for workers qua workers to gain any semblance of human rights from their employers. That’s apparently a battle without end.
So all of my natural sympathies in the NBA lockout go with the players. No one ever paid a dime to see the Cavs’ Dan Gilbert or any other franchise owner write a check or take a phone call. The players ARE the game, and they have precious little time to make the money they make, especially compared with the long-term earning and staying power of billionaires with business interests way beyond their basketball teams. LeBron James’s career could end on any game night with a torn knee ligament — not that I’d evah, evah, evah, evah wish for such a thing to come to pass — but Heat owner Micky Arison’s fleet of Carnival Cruise Line boats will sail on serenely. (Yeah, Timmy D, I know they’re ships, not boats. Fuck you.)
Why then do I hope that this lockout turns into a lost season?
1. Because we’re not really talking about a traditional union. We’re talking about a professional guild whose members’ average annual income is more than five million dollars. We’re talking about a 50/50 split of revenues being portrayed as an attempt by the owners to destroy the players’ right to bargain as a collective. We’re talking about a whole bunch of fools, most of whom mean well, talking about plantations and slaves. We’re talking bullshit, pure and simple..
2. Because anything that costs LeBron James a year of his career — a year that no amount of money will ever buy back — is a good thing in my book.
By the way, anyone who saw The Decision as some bold new paradigm for young athletes to follow to seize control of their working lives — forged by that brave warrior-pioneer, King James — ought to recognize that he has been, and continues to be, entirely missing from what’s going on between the league’s owners and players. He’s not in New York showing his solidarity with his brethren; instead, he’s shooting hoops as a rec-league fill-in. As always, when crunch time comes, the Chosen One can’t handle the pressure.