Tuesday, August 2, 2011
It’s easy to point out the millions of dollars paid to NBA ballers and dehumanize them as a result, making the argument that they’re getting paid plenty and what about the average Joe? I don’t find it convincing, it's too easy. Money and respect are married, everyone’s getting divorced. How many ways can one human being look at another and say, "fuck you."? As many ways as there’s hours and minutes in the day.
There are unexpected friendships and support. There is disappointment. And sometimes, a time to move on. Everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost.
Not necessarily. The other side wants you to believe that you have no recourse, that they own you and can discard you. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t.
Value is finite, value is amorphous. Value got screwed when the league decided to sue its players for threatening to consider their protections afforded under the law. Make no mistake, the owners and the league are hell-bent on destruction. Why? It has been asked endlessly and we’re only in the beginning stages. The answers lie only in the human condition which in of itself, defies answers.
Sometimes you have to lose lines, pages, sometimes it's best to de-construct until there’s little left save core elements. When I look at the league’s lawsuit, my eyes find the Lakers as plaintiffs and Derek Fisher as the accused. Simplistic? Of course. It's a subjective snapshot from a lone fan. You’re suing the guy who took all those charges for you because he has the temerity to object. Oh please, you’ve gone too far. There’s no animosity, it’s nothing personal, it’s only business. Dr. Buss loves him some Fish!
The notion of sports as business. We’ve all discussed this. As fans we sometimes take exception to the mantra, it’s a business. We’ve questioned the coldness of the statement, we want our sports to be about the joy of competition and winning. There’s certainly that, on the court and in so many ways. Still, we need to remember that players often grow up in adversity, they face challenges, they learn how to market themselves, they learn about the hungry hands that reach toward them and they learn how to compartmentalize. Business becomes an increasingly important term, an empowering term. It’s right up there with that other powerful and oft-used word, respect.
As a society we used to trumpet the value of work and workers - the forces of false promotion still do. Bedrock industries vanish in a generation. Family farms and textile mills, newspaper publishing. Ask the L.A. Times beat writers. The latest retail trend? Eliminate all job positions and "re-catagorize" them, inviting workers to reapply for less hours, no benefits and a fraction of the pay. Desperate workers are more compliant workers.
There’s a card that hasn’t been raised yet. It will be. Whether you agree with that notion or not, there’s elephants in every corner, waiting impatiently. There’s no arguing the simple fact that the owners all signed on to an extremely inflammatory lawsuit. They’re going all in with the singular notion of intimidating the players, busting their union, bringing them in line.
To the players, I would say, avail yourselves of jobs overseas. Place faith in the union that binds you. And if the owners’ threats begin to wear you down, remember they are disrespecting you, they are fucking with your business. Be hard and cold, stand firm and remember, in terms of total cash, the other side has more to lose than you.