posted 2011-11-30 14:15:58

Occupy the NBA

Lengthy lockout takes toll on the 99%

Arthur Kapetankis

Sports Editor 

The NBA lockout came to an end this past week after five months of unsuccessful negotiations between the owners and the players’ association. The lockout’s coinciding with the Occupy Wall Street movement was incredibly fitting, and even though it is over now, the process made both the NBA and its’ players look foolish.

At its core, the lockout was reminiscent of the Occupy movement: greedy millionaires negotiating with greedy billionaires over who gets how much of their customers’ money. The crowds at Zucotti Park would be incensed. But dig deeper, and the problem is even worse, and even more fitting with Occupy Wall Street. As unsuccessful negotiations dragged on and more NBA games were cancelled, the big bank accounts of the owners’ and the wealthy players remained. They are so financially secure that they can afford to jeopardize months of income as they attempt to gain the upper hand in the bargaining. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the one percent.

While the talks continued, it was once again the rest of us who felt the effects most. Consider a below-average NBA player who has spent years of his life working on his game and little else. While the LeBron Jameses of the league make tens of millions per year, these journeymen struggle to even make NBA rosters and earn salaries ranging from under $500,000 to $1 million.

While this may seem like a boatload of cash, keep in mind that most of these players have an NBA shelf life of under a decade. Their window for high earnings is very limited, and every paycheck missed is painful. In addition, many NBA players come from low-income families, and their income can help bring their loved ones out of poverty. In addition to the minimum salary players are the thousands of everyday people whose income depends on the NBA and its product. Stadium employees who work the 42-plus home games each team normally plays each year found themselves jobless. All of the behind-the-scenes trainers and assistant coaches working on modest salaries lost out too.

The problems extended outside of the arenas as well. For many small business and restaurant owners in NBA cities, the swell of people in the area for the basketball games means a swell of customers too. Many such businesses have come to rely on money from these NBA crowds in these difficult economic times. But with the NBA on hiatus, they had to find other ways to stay afloat.

Perhaps the saddest part of this whole story is the fact that, now that a deal has been struck between the league and its’ players, the public will go right back to watching the NBA and putting more money in the hands of the one percent. But the league does provide

entertainment, and if people are willing to pay for it, then so be it. Even with that point of view, though, the 99 percent still lost out. For those who look forward to coming home from work and watching their team play, they missed out on two months of action.

Getting back to Occupy, the latest news out of Zucotti Park is that protestors are being forced out. Many have been speculating as to where the movement is headed now. Here’s a suggestion: 645 Fifth Avenue, the NBA Corporate Office Headquarters.