NBA Players Should Just Play

Bobby Curran
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Friday - October 19, 2011
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I readily confess to not being very concerned about the cancellation of the first two weeks of the NBA season 82 games is too many anyway. But I’ve been thinking about how players could induce the owners to get serious about negotiating.

Right now it’s clear that the owners intend to break the union and force desperate players to accept a seriously changed system. The players, for their part, seem to believe that they enjoy equality of leverage. They do not. If they persist in this magical thinking they will end up with a very poor deal. The top players can afford a prolonged lockout and will want to drive a fair bargain. The rank-and-file player will start to get desperate after a few missed checks.

Here’s one solution. The players need to identify 40 top players and form four teams. They need to schedule a traveling tour that will put big stars against each other. They’ll need a TV contract, but LeBron against Kobe, Kevin Durant against Carmelo with the proper hype in a mini league format will generate ample revenues to make up a strike fund that can be distributed to all players by the union. This will 1) stiffen the resolve of the average player and 2) scare the daylights out of the owners, who will quickly come back to the bargaining table ready to make a deal. Then the NBA players can leave their European teams and start an abbreviated but meaningful season in these United States.

There, was that so hard? * This has been a tough year for Philadelphia sports fans. Not only were the Phillies unceremoniously dumped in the first round of the playoffs, but the Eagles, after assembling talent so great that they drew the “dream team” label, have gone from first to worst in the NFC East. And while Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has escaped much of the blame for the flameout of his 102-win team, not so Eagles coach Andy Reid, who has been reduced to mouthing shopworn clichés and repetitive nonsense to explain both the current failure and future solution. I don’t think Reid suddenly forgot how to coach football. But he is all-in on Michael Vick, and his QB may not be accurate enough as a passer or patient enough as a decision-maker.

He also has the least productive and most mistake-prone linebacking corps in the NFL.

The Eagles may not be as bad as they’ve looked, but what was once a dream is looking much more like a nightmare. At the other end of the spectrum, the 49ers are looking like a real football team. Jim Harbaugh has silenced many of the critics who contend that college coaches can’t transition successfully to the pros. Harbaugh is uberorganized and is a QB whisperer. Nobody else has gotten anywhere near as much from Alex Smith. This is going to be a playoff team.

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