It's a shame it's come to this, that on October 10 -- the day that, in an alternate universe where greed isn't the overwhelming lifestyle choice for America's ultra-wealthy, fans would be picking through highlights from the league's first preseason games -- we sit and we wait and we pray men will act with reason and not passion and end the NBA lockout. Without the stoppage, the preseason would have begun on Sunday; instead, a few thousand in Long Beach got to enjoy John Wall and Kevin Durant combining for 105 points and losing in an exhibition.
As has been made perfectly clear, it makes no sense for either the league or the players' union to hold out any further. We're not talking fuzzy future impacts either: it literally does not make financial sense to hold out for 2 or 3 percent of basketball-related income at the cost of 7-10 percent of a season. Tim Donahue and Larry Coon each pointed out how unreasonable a continued lockout for each side was late last week. Let's hope the league's and union's economists are telling their leaders the same thing.
The problem, of course, is that both sides had resolved that it would -- or could, at least, come to this. As we've heard a hundred times, players are willing to miss games, maybe a season. As we know all too well, the owners are willing to miss games to get what they want. And while we note that each side would lose more with two weeks of missed games than they'd make by getting their way on the revenue split, realize that this split, wherever it falls, dictates the next labor battle in 10, 15, 20 years. This isn't just the deal for the next six or so years. It's the deal that sets up the six or so years, too.
When neither side has a logical reason to continue the fight, both must continue the fight, for there is reason to believe they'll win. If the league stood to lose nothing over the first two weeks while the players would drop $200 million, the resolution would be simple now. It may not come simply, but we'd all be able to see it plain as day. As it stands, bloggers have been pushing a 51.5 percent players' split as the reasonable compromise; with the stakes equal for owners and players, each side has to be asking why they should compromise at this point.
Players have come all the way down from 57 percent. Owners have made all of the recent movement and apparently dropped all of the major system issues they sought. They can justify their own unwillingness to deal here, and that's all they have to do. No one needs to quiet the voices from the chattering classes, from the fan base. (Come on, when's the last time anyone involved actually listened to fans?) David Stern, Derek Fisher -- they just need to hear the voices of those they represent and those who stand behind them.
The hope is that Stern has one more voice in his ear right now: his own voice, pushing hard to advocate on behalf of his own legacy. Stern will go down a genius once he leaves the game. But will he go down as a genius that lost parts of two seasons? Will he be the commissioner that couldn't crack the labor puzzle, that couldn't cut a good deal for his owners despite missing games? Will he be the commissioner that shot his own foot with an assault rifle to kill a spider that had crawled onto his shoe?
Let's hope the commish has a pit in his stomach on Monday morning and can't bear to go out there in front of cameras and tell the NBA's millions and millions of fans that, sorry, this pissing match is more important than delivering to them the product they love. Let's hope this lockout is solved and we can get back to the things that matter, like Nick Young's afro. (He's a free agent, you know.) End the lockout, please.