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An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
? Martin Luther King Jr.

Isnt it about time that the NBA owners and players stop thinking only of themselves and start thinking about what is best for the NBA community as a whole?

Right now, the NBA owners and players are engaged in Day 3 of government intervention through mediation trying to resolve the more than 110 day old NBA lockout. Already, the league has sacrificed the summer league games, the entire pre-season and two weeks of regular season basketball. Thats a lot of entertainment people in Memphis have missed out on while rich people on both sides of the table negotiate how much of our disposable income they get to keep and how much goes to the person across the table from them.

And not one person engaged in the lockout has actually suffered economic harm yet. Pre-season games are money losers for the owners. Does anyone believe that the loss of some pre-season games is actually harming them? The players wont miss their first paycheck for at least two more weeks. They can continue to wax poetically about how solid they are and how they wont accept a deal that doesnt guarantee them a more than 50% cut of all revenues generated from the leagues popularity, but the reality is they havent lost a penny yet in salary. That isnt to say that economic hardship is not being suffered by the NBA strike.

The Memphis Grizzlies joined a long list of NBA teams in letting employees go recently. Thats real people losing real jobs while the two rich sides discuss whats fair. Businesses dependent on NBA games being played are floundering, Beale Street is losing customers, and taxpayers in Memphis may soon be on the hook for the debt they took on to provide the teams and the players the best facilities to ply their craft. This is the true hardship that no one is discussing.

The owners claim to be losing money in a majority of their markets. I suspect that is true. Still the owners refuse to share the wealth generated by their league equally so that all may benefit from the product they represent. A more equitable division of revenues including a league-wide nationalization of local TV contracts would go a long way toward balancing the books for all NBA teams and soften the blow players must take to make the league financially viable. Small market cities like Memphis would not be unduly restricted in building a championship team without sacrificing fiscal responsibility that way. Every team in every market, regardless of size, would be able to try and put together the best team possible.

Players claim that they are entitled to a majority of the revenue generated from their activities yet refuse to accept that expenses have risen in these tough economic times. Greater expenses mean profits shrink or evaporate and no business can run with a loss forever.

The players also have a total lack of concern over the competitiveness of the league. Their sole concern is enriching themselves at the expense of the owners, fans and communities where they play. Dwyane Wade said that its unrealistic for the NBA to expect every team to be competitive every season and that is probably true. What he is missing is that fans want the ability to have a team be competitive every season. They may not achieve it but the goal is that every season could be any teams big year. That doesnt exist today in the NBA. Competitiveness aside, the life of the league is dependent on the league as a whole making profit. In society today that is the one thing all sides should be able to agree on but even that simple premise is being argued. Not just the fans but the people in Memphis are being asked to suffer both financially and socially while millionaire players and billionaire owners determine the proper way to carve out our hard-earned money among themselves. They are increasing the cost to the average Memphis fan while they do it. It is the Memphis taxpayer and not the league, owners or players who must foot the bill on the arena we built to get them to our community. It is the people of Memphis who will foot the bill for the lost tax revenue from underutilized businesses around the Forum during the lockout.

The sad truth is that this work stoppage puts an economy, struggling at best to afford the NBA already, on an even more difficult footing to afford future expenses associated with the league. This isnt just about the players wanting to play or the owners wanting to just be able to make a profit.

This could become a means test for any community looking to attract a franchise in the future as well. What community will build an arena such as FedEx Forum with the knowledge that the taxpaying community could be stuck with the debt service bill if the team decides it cant play for over $2 billion in salaries each season.

Whats really sad is the two sides are now fighting over less income than the players stand to lose for every two weeks of games they miss and on average the owners are losing even more than that according to David Stern.

Of course, the problem is that not every owner is losing an equal amount. Big market, highly profitable teams like the LA Lakers are suffering far more than small market teams that lose significant money even when the teams are playing. The small market owners could actually be losing less during the work stoppage than they have the last few seasons with the team playing.

So, the lockout continues until one side blinks while the fans and the communities where the teams play go blind.

Makes you wishthat the Memphians who are actually suffering from this had someone to speak up for them.

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