So, the NFL owners and players reached an agreement. Even Congress decided that, all things considered, all strongly held opinions taken into account, the nation would be better off not defaulting on its debt. Both confrontations often beggared belief and left me drained and more cynical than ever. The saddest thing is that Mosquito Circumciser Jerry Jones comes across as more rational than many of our elected representatives. The greatest thing about a democracy is that it's ultimately our own fault. (And there end my political contribution, perhaps forever. This really isn't about politics, don't talk about it below. The point is even that kerfuffle reached an endpoint.) The great thing about the NFL is that it's ultimately not our problem.
And then there's the NBA. It's not our fault, and I don't have a franchise or career on the line, but as the sort of fans who read The Dreamshake, it's our problem to an extent. Not a costly one - I told the Rockets that when there was a season I'd consider renewing my tickets. That seemed like a reasonable position to me. Cost: zero.
But I keep reading NBA player comments on the lockout that make me think the Great Debt Ceiling Goat Rodeo will come to seem like a model of calm, principled and informed debate. The number of "I think there won't be a season." comments are seemingly increasing. The NBA tried to fine The Dreamshake $1 million for talking about the lockout. Things just aren't going well at present. Except in the area of self-improvement. Many players seem to be considering this Long National Basketball Hiatus as an opportunity for paid foreign travel, personal growth, or extended revelry.
FIBA has cleared NBA players to go overseas at their own risk. The Players Association has cleared it, and given that the NBA locked its contracted employees out of their place of work my sense is we will see NBA sprinkled around the globe. Personally I can think of few things more fun for an open-minded player than getting paid to play basketball and party all over Europe, knowing that whenever the lockout ends a swift return to a previous life and salary is waiting. Where's the downside?
Thus, we may soon regard the spectacle of Kobe Bryant leading the fey seray boys of Besiktas against the gun runners of Fenerbahce. Kobe may think he's hardcore, but I can assure you, he doesn't have a fan club called "Die for You". (That means it.) Or on a more reasonable note, you might see Dirk Nowitski hanging another banner in his hometown Hell of Franconia.
And there's more, even on our shores. Trevor Ariza has taken this opportunity to go back to school. The Portland Trailblazers are (possibly) going to each have their own specialty food truck in the Rose City. The Rockets are (possibly) going to get the hell out of Houston before it dries up and blows away. Other players are just going to eat and club. Ron Artest has a comedy tour and is evidently doing pretty well. Adonal Foyle is (possibly) leading a World Art Tour for players who want to broaden their horizons.
In any event the players seem pretty well prepared for the lockout. They can make a little money in Europe or elsewhere, they can take a few classes at their alma matter or elsewhere. Shane Battier is going to China to study at the Shaolin Temple and become an international Kung Fu star. Evidently a lot of Ex-Kentucky players can be some specie of coach and practice with the college squad, thus blurring the line between the UK program and the NBA into utter non-existence. And if that fails, there's always The Learning Annex.
Other players have evidently saved their pennies this time around, and it's going to be hard for these guys to go broke if they can grab a million or two to pay the bills playing elsewhere. Basketball has grown immensely worldwide. It looks to be the world's second most popular sport (unless, by population, it's Cricket I guess). While this success would normally delight David Stern, I'll suggest that the renown and popularity of the NBA and its players worldwide, and the weakness of the dollar, make for a tough position for the owners. As broken as the NBA model may or may not be, no season is now looking like a bigger problem for the owners than the players.
I remain optimistic, but that is dwindling by the day as nothing appears to be happening with the Great NBA Hiatus. I'm entirely too bummed to talk about Yao yet. Sorry.
My long personal hiatus in Oregon continues - sorry to be not around as much.