Sunday, July 10, 2011

Solution to end the NBA Lockout

I've read a lot of opinions lately on the NBA Lockout.  Whether you're pro-union, pro-owner, or anything else, one thing we can all agree on is we want to see the Lockout come to an end.  I believe that I have a solution that not only will benefit the NBA owners, and players, but most of all the fans across America.  Here is my solution.

The current crop of NBA players are extremely well paid, all sides agree that they should make less as a percentage of overall revenue, and they're only arguing over how much less.  I can't make one side or the other agree to compromise and reach a fair and logical deal, but I can help end this lockout.  Until both sides come to a reasonable agreement (probably at the 50/50 split level) why not give the fans what they want?  REAL Basketball, with players who play because they love the game.  There are currently a group of people who are playing at the Professional level, right here in the USA.  They aren't locked out, they aren't on strike, they aren't greedy so-and-sos, they love the game, they love the fans, and the fans love to watch them play.  I'm of course referring to the players in the WNBA.  Most fans don't know much about the WNBA, it doesn't get the bigtime ESPN and network exposure that the regular NBA gets, and understandably so, since the regular NBA teams are the ones that have been around forever, and they're the ones we all want to see.  However, just because people aren't watching them in great numbers doesn't change the fact that they're great players, and this is the NBA's chance to show them off to a national audience. 

Its no secret that the WNBA has always been a 'work in progress' so to speak, in that so few people watch them, compared to the regular NBA, that they end up losing money for the NBA.  Putting WNBA players on every NBA team during the lockout would go a LONG way toward changing that.  People dont watch them because they either don't know about them, or they feel that the WNBA games aren't played at a high enough level to be entertaining, both those things can be solved simply by putting these women in front of a national audience and letting the fans see the truth for themselves. 

Of course I'm not suggesting that the NBA essentially turn the regular NBA into the WNBA until the lockout is over, that would be insane, and there wouldn't even be enough women from the WNBA to actually fill all 30 teams even if somebody was crazy enough to want to do that.  My suggestion would be to put 3 or 4 WNBA players on each team's 12 man roster, and then fill the rest through an old-fashioned tryouts process.  Open up the tryouts to everybody, most likely it will be college players who get the spots, but who knows?  Let each team just hold open tryouts and sign whoever they like, just the way things used to be done in the good old days, back when people played sports for the love of the game.  Of course the people who get these spots wouldn't 'just' be playing for the love of the game, they would probably all be paid more money than they've ever seen in their lives, even if that were a 'mere' quarter or half a million dollars or so. 

So imagine that each team had 8 or 9 of the top players they could find, along with 3 or 4 WNBA players to provide that veteran NBA Leadership for the team.  It would be a very unique, and highly entertaining system indeed.  Fans would gain a great deal of appreciation for WNBA players, which would help make the WNBA itself much more popular, and thus more profitable, and it would be a great way for other super-talented but perhaps little known players to make an NBA team and show the world their true abilities.  It would be a league filled with 'feel good' stories, whether its WNBA players finally getting the opportunity to shine on the big stage, or other folks who have never played professional ball, and maybe would've never had the chance but for this opportunity, trying out, making the team, and showing that they truly do belong on the Professional level.  Who knows, maybe from this crop of players could come the next MJ, Kobe, or Dirk.

Of course the best part of all this for the NBA itself, as a league, is that they would make far more money next year than they've ever made before.  Sure, attendence would be down, as the bigtime Superstars would still be sitting at home counting their money, or their drugs, or whatever.  But the salaries would be back to real world, sane levels, so that would mean that for those of us who do go to the games, we could get tickets at a greatly discounted price and still get to see a high quality basketball game, while the owners rake in unprecedented profits, because anyone with basic math skills can figure out that if you're paying 1/10th or less what you used to in salaries, you can cut ticket prices in half and still make a FORTUNE.  The owners would win, the players would win (the players who were actually playing that is, not the greedy ones who weren't playing), and most of all the fans would win.  The NBA would be back to the way it should be, where the players earn their spots, and they play for the love of the game.  The fans would get a chance not only to see great players playing high level basketball, they'd get to witness history in the making, women playing in the NBA for the first time ever.  And of course, with all these new and unique details would come one more benefit for the fans, parity.  Just like in the NFL, any team could win in a given year.  How would one team have an inherent advantage?  It wouldn't be about the money, it would be all about choosing the best group of players for your team from the huge number of players who attend the tryouts.

With this backdrop of awesomeness, there would be every incentive for the players to end the lockout, and get back to regular NBA action.  And until they did, we the fans would actually be enjoying a superior product anyway, at much lower prices.  The game of basketball itself would be the biggest winner of all, as whether you're an owner, a player, or a fan, everyone will ultimately win if the NBA acts on this Solution.  I hope to see it happen later this year.              

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