NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern announces that a lockout will go ahead as NBA labor negotiations break down at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City. The NBA has locked out the players after they were unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current CBA is due to expire tonight at midnight. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
The NBA lockout is further confirmation of a fact Seattle sports fans knew about three years ago: the current business model is broken.
No summer league, no practicing in team facilities and no free agency. As of 12:01 a.m. on July 1st, the NBA and its owners locked out the players. The NBA now joins the NFL, which has been locked out for nearly four months. Not that it is likely to happen, but there is a small possibility that there wil not be any professional football or basketball played when the time comes in the fall.
So why can't the owners and the players get along? To put it simply, the players want higher salaries and more guaranteed money while the owners want lower player salaries and the ability to release players and not be forced to pay them if they underperform.
As a Sonics fan, it is all too easy to take the side of the players. It's safe to say the NBA's business model is fundamentally flawed. If you've watched the documentary Sonicsgate, you know why the system is messed up. The NBA forces cities to create publicly-funded arenas that the NBA and its owners can profit from. If a city can not or will not pay for a stadium, then a team will move. Case in point: Seattle.
Moreover, though Key Arena was not up to the NBA's standards, it's fair to question whether the Sonics were really losing as much money as Howard Schultz claimed. A recent Deadspin article that disclosed financial documents from the New Jersey Nets revealed that teams could pretend they were losing money when they were really making a profit.
With that said, because teams do not reveal their financial books, there is no way knowing if NBA owners are really losing any money.
In the court case with the Sonics, they tried to open up more of the NBAs books, but they ultimately weren’t successful. It could’ve, potentially, exposed how they’re calculating these figures," Reid said before turning to Howard Schultz as a specific example. "Schultz bought the team for 200, sold it for 350. Over five years, he made 150 million," Sonicsgate Director Jason Reid told SB Nation Seattle in April.
The owners are greedy and want more money, just like any other business person on this planet. The issue is as simple as that. While the players have been worthy employees to the owners, instead of rewarding them, the owners only care to increase their profits.
What does this all mean for fans in Seattle wanting to get an NBA team back? The NBA lockout is confirmation that the current system in place is broken. I'd be lying to you if I said I had the answers on how to fix everything. Heck, the players and owners are trying to figure out the exact same problem in their negotiations.
I can tell you that the NBA and its owners will remain greedy and David Stern is not afraid to break fans' hearts if a team is losing money. The frustrating part is that the fans do not matter at all in this situation. NBA fans all around the country are now feeling as powerless as Sonics fans felt back when the team left Seattle.
I'd do anything for a team to be back in Seattle, however, with the lockout, the labor dispute, the greedy owners and David Stern, I certainly have my doubts of successfully maintaining a team here.
Though the relocation of a team to Seattle is totally within the realm of possibility, I'm not sure if fans in Seattle want to experience being a powerless pawn in the slimy big business that the NBA has turned into. The NBA pissed off Seattle sports fans once, do Seattle sports fans want to be pissed off again if absolutely no changes have been made to the league's business model?
Sonics fans knew something was wrong back in 2008, now the rest of the league and its fans will see what's wrong too: the NBA is a broken system that needs some fixing.