Sunday, August 21, 2011


                                               J.S. Hayes
Lazy day, dream away. The summer’s waning, kids and teachers are getting ready for school. Vacations, wherever and however, approach their end. The NFL’s back on track with preseason games and baseball's gearing up for its stretch drive. Bereft of summer league or trades, basketball fans tweet about EuroBasket, soccer and lockout theories that double in on themselves to the point that you’d need a penknife to dissect the knots.

Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop wrote a treatise on hypothetical draft scenarios which was then chewed on by Matt Moore at ProBasketballTalk. There’s a plethora of good Gordian information in both pieces, the likes of which furrow my brow and send me searching for Excedrin (a lone tablet's found inside a baggie, behind the tea and bouillon cubes).  I return to my sitting place, determined to nail this sucker.

The idea I guess, is that the owners could find themselves in a position after a year’s layoff, sans revenue, of having 30 first-round and 30 second-round picks from the season that wasn’t.  Now pour in 60 more from the new crop which was supposed to be better than the last one (at least in theory) before the season that was about to, became the season that got its fingers busted in a drawer.  And of those 120 aggregate picks, 60 are guaranteed.  Except we all know that sometimes, second-round picks end up being a better value than the guaranteed ones. Okay, everybody clear so far?  Good, me neither.

There are underlying reasons for a lockout, having to do with league infighting, as unsuccessful teams try and gain a level of parity that’ll never happen anyway.  By the time a lost season has bled out, the watering hole will be so befouled that the losers will be flung against a wall with a wet gross sound.  Call them casualties, call them stupid, the contractions will finally discharge their assets, namely players - ones they already own and rookies that never got a chance (plus the class of 2012, still waiting breathlessly in the wings).  Unless, the league decides to void contracts during the season that never was.

I steal a glance to see if I’m anywhere near the intersection of Arnovitz and Moore.  I’m not even in the same time zone.  Looming ahead is the age-old model of how to gut companies that file Chapter 11.  You call it restructuring, I call it a sucking wound.  Of course the assets aren’t worth squat if the contracts are voided in which case the whole sad mess gets tied up in the courts for the next decade as armies of lawyers put liens on anything worth putting liens on and the players themselves scramble to the remaining three corners of the earth.  A generation gone.  While we’re at it, lets merge Nike and Adidas, lose a few mega-sports agencies and send Ernie, Charles and Kenny into retirement.  The league's fallback position is simpler - get rid of the stars and just hire rookies and scabs.   Which kind of brings us back to the original premise except inside-out.

There was supposed to be a negotiating meeting next week but it got cancelled. Which leaves plan C, hereto known as the Searching for Slava solution or the dummy tax - either or is just fine. I actually prefer the dummy tax seeing how the children can’t even sit in the room together.  Take one percent from everything and everyone. That’s right, from players’ salaries to owners, from vendors to Stern & Silver. Take a point from network licensing fees and ad revenues, from anything with an NBA logo on it and stadium parking as well. That dollar Snickers bar is now a buck and a penny and the concession stand workers won’t mind giving away 8 cents of their hourly wage because the drunken idiot slopping Busch beer on the counter will probably leave his 95 cents in change after the dummy tax is taken out.  Put it all into a superfund, give it sun and water for the better part of a year and start parceling it out again. Now give five percent to each of the teams that supposedly weren’t making money (for a 4-pt gain) and divvy the rest via some arcane needs-based system but with the caveat that any owners who elect to withdraw money from the fund will be required to wear caps or t-shirts reading "dummy" while at home games. Kind of like a scarlet letter. They could wear Searching for Slava caps instead but you know that’ll never happen.

On the slim chance that my proposal doesn’t curry favor with the league, owners and players, I have one last magic bullet in the chamber - I’ve been saving it until now. Sit down in a room and figure your shit out so we can all get on with our lives.  It's late, I take the dog out one last time.  It's too damned hot for nightime and the cicadas are screaming like overhead powerlines.  My headache's returned with a purpose.  Shake the can and close cover before striking.

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