One mark of a good writer, like Charlie Pierce, is that he can make me read about topics in which I have no personal interest:
And so, on the day after Thanksgiving, when most of America was coming out of a tryptophan-and-Tony Romo-induced coma, and when hardly anyone at all was looking, they came up with a deal. There will be a 2012 NBA season, after all — a perfectly logical 66-game package beginning with a Christmas Day multimedia extravaganza that will be what ancient Rome would have organized, if Nero had invented the T-Cannon and Charles Barkley. This undoubtedly will include several of the league’s marquee, big-market teams, whose baleful influence over the game’s economics was supposed to have been management’s casus belli for the lockout in the first place. And it might have been, if the whole absurd kabuki ever had been about money in the first place.
The NBA lockout was as exclusively about money as it was exclusively about astrophysics. One way you know this is that the settlement that finally was reached was one that could have been reached last June. Like Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1972, the league and its players struck a deal they could have had much earlier, and without the extended bloodletting in the meantime. The players took a reduction in the amount of basketball-related income — and can we find a rocket and fire that little bit of business-school jargon off to Pluto, please? — while winning some concessions as regards the league’s salary structure and in the rules regarding free agency. And that was pretty much it after five or six months of loud public wrangling — a brief outburst of authentic MBA gibberish and (poof!) back to work, gentlemen…
Stern’s concern for his league’s fans was as transparently phony as was Carnegie’s concern for his workers. (Hearing the commissioner’s unctuous solicitude for the paying customers must have occasioned rueful chuckling, and projectile vomiting, in Seattle.) His primary constituency is a group of 29 men who don’t have to deal much with unions in their principal occupations anymore and who, therefore, are not accustomed to reacting well when the help gets, well, uppity. The lockout was THE perfect oligarch’s answer.
They got most of what they wanted, which means that most of them are probably very unhappy. The league suffered a public-relations debacle that very nearly became a public-relations catastrophe. But David Stern showed himself to be the tinhorn-in-charge once again, and there will be games on Christmas Day. God bless us all, every one.