Forget the 2011-12 NBA season.
If you think the lawsuits filed Tuesday by the trade association formerly known as the NBPA is going to soften the stance of hard-line owners, someone needs to break the bad news to you about the tooth fairy. The owners’ goal, all along, has been to crush the union and remind the players that they are merely employees.
Blame who you choose, but get over that quickly, too. It will just make you angry and depressed.
Some Spurs fans couldn’t sleep Monday night because they were so upset about the likelihood they won’t see their heroes for a full season. They also were worried about the effect the missed season might have on the team.
Renowned attorney David Boies, representing plaintiff players, including Spurs draftee Kawhi Leonard, announced the filings and said settlement talks can begin at any time and “might be a pathway” to agreement.
I can begin a column tomorrow that might be a pathway to a Pulitzer prize.
Does moving the battle to the courtroom give fans reason to believe there will be NBA games this season? Only if they enjoy serial disappointment.
If the owners and players want to get serious about ending the lockout, they must focus more sharply on the true fallout from this fiasco: How a lost season will forever change the dynamic between the league and fans; between the teams and fans; and between the players and fans.
We know it is changing because fans haven’t been silent as billionaire owners insisted on imposing their will and millionaire players lined up, like lemmings, to follow their leaders as they leaped into a sea of lost paychecks.
Outrage in South Texas is understandable. The Spurs are the only major league sports franchise in town, so San Antonians feel an especially strong bond. They know Tim Duncan is the greatest player in club history, the only one on all four Spurs title teams and the greatest power forward in history. They know he is in the final season of his contract and will be 36 in April. They know the lockout threatens a sad end to his career.
Tyler Remmert, 24, is a Spurs season ticket holder. But he says he won’t be going back to the ATT Center as long as Peter Holt owns the team, David Stern remains NBA commissioner and Billy Hunter is executive director of whatever it is the players union might call itself if, and when, it re-forms.
He has a message that merits consideration because it combines both the passion of Spurs fans and their sense of betrayal.
“When the NBA comes back in 2012 or 2013 or whenever this petty squabbling wears out its own PR machine, I don’t know that I will look at a Spurs game the same way,” Remmert wrote in an e-mail. “The next time the Spurs take the court, I don’t think I’ll be able to remove from my nose the awful stench of money, of the millions of dollars, and nothing more, that this game means to all parties involved in the lockout.
“I won’t stand for it. This is not the game I love.
“This is my plea to Tim Duncan: don’t come back. Walk away from this game, because I don’t want to think of you as one of those quibbling over millions as if they were table scraps while honest, hardworking people are out of a job for a year or more. Take the dignity you earned as the greatest power forward of all time and walk away. This league doesn’t deserve you any more.”
Duncan came to last season’s training camp trim and pronounced his intent to play “until the wheels fall off.” Presumably, this meant he would consider playing beyond season’s end, maybe another year or two.
After a season on the sidelines that will seem an eternity, would anyone blame Duncan for walking away?