Quit Whining: A (Former) Fan’s Perspective of the NBA Lockout

I’m a sports fan, but I stopped following the NBA years ago.  Even as a resident of Los Angeles, home of the perennial powerhouse Lakers and the incomparable Kobe Bryant, I can’t remember the last time I watched a full NBA game on television, be it regular season or the playoffs.

This was not always the case.  My childhood years seem like a big blur, but the Lakers are one element of the past that I remember clearly.  Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper … The “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s were the epitome of excellence and these men were (and continue to be, in my mind) larger-than-life figures.

I lost interest in the NBA because today’s stars spend more time complaining about foul calls (or non-calls) than doing their job of playing basketball.  There is something quite unappealing, almost grotesque, about watching grown men moan and groan on seemingly EVERY … SINGLE … PLAY.  I’m sorry, maybe you missed that shot because … you just took a bad shot.

Now, the NBA is embroiled in a labor dispute that jeopardizes the entire 2011-2012 season.  Instead of playing games (and making money and fueling its growing popularity in America and across the world), owners and players are bickering about how to split an insanely HUGE pot of money.

Perhaps as a result of my disdain for whining millionaire NBA players, I find myself siding with the owners in this labor dispute.  If you or I believe we are underpaid at our respective jobs, we will find another employer who will meet (or exceed) our salary expectations.  But if no one is willing to pay us any more than what we are receiving now, or worse yet want to lower our salaries, then we can either (i) quit based on our (mistaken) beliefs of our own worth, or (ii) reassess our self-valuation of our worth and come to grips with reality.

The average adult American makes about $40,000 per year.  Conversely, the average NBA player makes about $5,120,000.  In one year, some NBA players will make more money than some Americans will make in their entire lives.  For 99 percent of the players, $5 million is more money than they would otherwise have made doing whatever else they are talented enough to do.

Derek Fisher, president of the National Basketball Players Association (and a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers), said yesterday, “We want to get back on the court.”  Correction, Mr. Fisher, you want to get back on the court on your terms.

My prediction on how this lockout is resolved?  The players will give in and take what the owners are offering.  They will do so, as usual, whining about it … as they collect their millions.

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