The NFL is the most popular sport in the nation, while Major League Baseball is America’s pastime. Although my favorite pro-sport is the NBA I am in the minority in this country as the Association is at best a distant third in popularity in the USA. Currently the NFL and the NBA are having labor issues; with the NFL right now in the midst of a Lockout. Next Thursday June 30, the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire which could lead NBA Team Owners to declare a Lockout of their own on July 1.
No matter how long the Lockout persists in the NFL; it will be only a temporary setback for the sport as fans will soon be back on the bandwagon. However, an extended work-stoppage for the Association could not only hurt the game short-term; but could cause long-term damage to the NBA which could affect the sport for years down the road.
Prospects do not look good that the NBA Players Association and NBA Team Owners can ratify a new collective bargaining agreement in the next few days. That would make it appear that the NBA will be shut down by Team Owners as the two sides find themselves stuck between the proverbial “Rock And A Hard Place“.
It does not have to be the case however, as there is an alternative. As Players Association Director Billy Hunter told “ESPN.com” on Friday “The 30th can be just another day. They are the ones that will determine if it carries more significance than it really should. What happens on the 30th is that the collective bargaining agreement expires. It doesn’t mean that it has to be the end of negotiations. It doesn’t mean it has to be a lockout. The ball is in their court. They will decide how we’ll treat it.”
Hunter is spot on with his perspective as there truly is no reason that bargaining must end and a Lockout declared at 12:01 am on July 1. Commissioner David Stern and the Team Owners can say they are not declaring a Lockout and the two sides will continue to try to hammer out an agreement. He could at the same time impose a moratorium on any Free Agent signings or trades until a new agreement is ratified.
Granted this is not an ideal scenario as it will delay teams from getting their rosters set for the upcoming campaign. However it will continue the bargaining sessions without the negative emotions that a work-stoppage would bring to both sides; especially the players. It may also give both sides the incentive to ratify an agreement as soon as possible to get on with starting to prepare for next season.
This has been an extremely successful year for the Association with a very highly viewed Post Season. The NBA will be shooting themselves in the foot if they allow the momentum they are currently riding to grind to a halt. It may take years for the Association to regain its current level of popularity; if it happens at all.