Passing Judgment – Now we can all go back to hating LeBron.

It wasn’t exactly the Pilgrims and Puritans getting together to churn butter at Plymouth Rock, but over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend the NBA and its players reached a handshake agreement to salvage the 2011-2012 season.  The two sides agreed in principle to end the lockout which has already forced the cancellation of the first month of the season.  But that’s ok because the regular season is a waste of time since half the league makes the playoffs and it is a foregone conclusion who will be there in the end.

Because the lockout erased the first month of the season, the league will play a shortened, 66-game season that will start on Christmas Day. This is better than the truncated season in 1999 during the last work stoppage.  That year, the quality of play was dramatically affected because players did not stay in shape while the league was on hiatus.  Also, the 50 game season really tarnished the legitimacy of the results.  While an 82 game season would be the ideal option, a 66 game season isn’t so terrible all things considered.  Players are much more conscientious about their conditioning, and many have been playing overseas anyway. 

Like the NFL’s free agent frenzy after their lockout, we can expect something similar when the free agent signing period begins on December 9, the same day training camps are expected to open.  There likely won’t be any moves similar to the magnitude of last year when LeBron and company took their talents to South Beach.  But teams will still be active with the new salary and contract parameters that have tentatively been agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, effect the lockout had on the fans in terms of attendance and merchandise.  As we all remember, it took Major League Baseball a few years to get fans back after the 1994 strike.  The NFL has not seen any repercussions from their work stoppage, but that is not surprising.  Not only is the NFL the most popular and profitable sport, but they did not lose any regular season games and fans were not deprived of anything significant.  The NBA may find that the casual fan isn’t as drawn to the league as they once were because it doesn’t feel like there has been a void without it.  However, the NBA is coming off of one of its best seasons in recent memory and had momentum.  Hopefully the flurry of roster moves, training camp, some pre-season games, and then a Christmas tip-off will get things going in the right direction.

For many people, it is hard to feel any sort of empathy for millionaire players griping with billionaire owners.  In these troubled economic times, it is hard enough to get by paycheck to paycheck.  While we criticize players and owners for being petty over amounts of money we can only dream of, the fact remains that we will all be happy when NBA games are being played again.  Sports is a terrific form of entertainment that allows us to escape the doldrums of life and economic turmoil.  Instead of harnessing negative energy towards corporate greed, we can now focus our attention on despising LeBron James again.  And that will make us all feel better.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather