In this whole impasse with the lockout between owners and players we've heard their sides, but the fans' thoughts have been mostly silent. That's a shame. As a fan I have a problem with the current (just expired) CBA. I'm not for the owners or the players - I'm for us fans. As a fan I want to have our home team consistently be competitive. I've been a season ticket holder for years including through the 21-61 record timeframe when Tracy McGrady was the star. As a fan I also want to get fair value for my money that I pay in ticket prices and concession fees (such as an $8 beer). As a fan, I don't mind the star players commanding what they're worth in a free market economy. D Wade recently mentioned that the stars like he and Dwight are worth $40-50M/yr. They are earning it in my mind.
The just expired CBA and the way the current NBA is run is completely against my goals and desires as a fan. Don't misinterpret - I'm not pro-union or pro-owner. I'm pro-fan.
More after the jump
We all know Dwight Howard is considering leaving the Magic. Why? Is it because of Stan’s yelling? Is it because a larger media market offers more exposure? I believe NO. Dwight wants to win (and I, as a fan in Orlando, want him to win - HERE). Does anyone believe that D12 would be considering leaving if he had a solid supporting cast in Orlando to bring a championship to the City Beautiful and we’d be competitive for an NBA championship over the next 5 years? No way. Stan’s yelling would be a non-issue if Dwight thought he could win in Orlando. Then, as Magic fans, we must ask ourselves “why are we about to lose Dwight?” and “If he leaves how long will it take us to be competitive again?”
As a fan, I believe the problem is the large guaranteed contracts in the just expired CBA. Yes – no one put a gun to an owner’s (or GM’s) head to make them sign a player. However, when a team is saddled with non-performing players it decreases the team’s competitive ability. We may end up losing Dwight when he becomes a free agent because the Magic are saddled with Arenas’ and Turkuglo’s salaries as well as the millions being paid to players like Duhon when the team receives limited results.
As we know from the Miami big 3 last year, it’s not all about money when they signed for less than max contracts. Stars want to win. There’s enough money in the system that they don't chase max contracts just for the money. However the Magic will likely not be able to build around Dwight due to poor contracts and the Magic could again go into years of mediocrity until they have cap space or land a once in 10 year talent in a future draft.
As a fan I believe the system is BROKE when we hear that teams are posturing to clear cap space years in advance just to get themselves into competitive position down the road. The Heat and Knicks spent years in mediocrity until this year. As fans, why should we put up with mediocrity and have our ticket and concession money going to a system that does not allow our team to be competitive year in and year out?
The Magic are blessed as a small market franchise in that they have deep pocket owners. Most small markets are not. I’m not a fan of the Devos family but as owners of the the Magic they have spent like drunken sailors to bring a championship here. As we all know the contracts have not worked out and we’re now in a situation where, if Dwight leaves, we’ll be saddled with Arenas as our player that takes money away from us being competitive. Make anyone feel good?
The NBAPA needs to recognize that its bad contracts are far more detrimental to the game than either baseball or football. Baseball essentially has 14 starters (the 8 position players, 5 starters and a closer). Football has 24 (11 each offensive and defensive and 2 kickers) and these are not guaranteed. Basketball has 5. It is much easier for a baseball or football team to stay competitive when 1 out of 14 or 24 contracts is not working out. With basketball, a non-performing contract significantly hurts a team and its ability to be competitive. I believe owners want to put a competitive team on the floor and that's what I want as a fan.
Wild guess – but I believe the owners would even maybe consider a 55% revenue split of BRI to the players if the CBA did not have guaranteed contracts and all the stuff that leads to non-performance and lack of a team’s competitive balance. Would the union take 55% of BRI if they could decide how to divide the revenue up amongst the players? They could base it on whatever the union values - $1M/yr for every year in the league? Star power where stars get more? Role players a set number? I’d love to see a system where every year the owners decide who they want to keep in order to have the most competitive team. Those players a team doesn’t want go back into a common draft along with all the college and international players. If some team doesn’t draft a player – so be it they’re done. Take Arenas for example. If the Magic didn’t think he was what they want for 2011-12 – cut him. If no other team wants him, he doesn’t play next year. Maybe he gets in shape and comes back the following year. Let the union decide where their portion of the BRI should go. Do they want to pay Arenas a severance out of the BRI split they’d control? So be it. But I’d guarantee, even with a 55% revenue split where the union gets to determine how the money is split amongst the players, that the union isn’t going to give Arenas $20M for the year. So why do the players expect the owners, and ultimately us fans through ticket prices and high concession fees, to pay this amount on bad contracts? I have no problem with my season ticket prices if they are going to performing players. I’d be happy to have Dwight get $40M/yr and Arenas zero. . [It’d be interesting to see how the players viewed this scenario where it’d be up to them to split the money amongst the players and the owners weren’t viewed as the bad guys. Would Gil get $20M this year and $60M+ over the next 3]?
As a fan I don’t mind the owners taking a hard stand. It’s ultimately our money (ticket prices, etc.). I don’t like it going to long term bad contracts where there is no out and hurts a team’s competitive ability for years. I don’t have guaranteed employment at my job and I sure don't make near the amount of money the average NBA player does. In this tough economy does a salesman have guaranteed employment and does their company forgive them if they don't make their quota? Not likely. Then as fans that are supporting the league and players, why should we not expect from them the same work conditions we are subjected to?
Imagine Arenas anchoring the Magic for the next 2 years as the star player beyond 2011-2012 (assuming D12 signs elsewhere to win). BLEAK. Low attendance, not making the playoffs, etc. How is this good for the NBA game as a whole or the team? Situations like this actually equate to less total BRI – which hurts the players’ total take when they have a set percentage.
To me, I enjoy watching the games but it’s also a night to go to downtown Orlando and get a bite to eat before the game and some nightlife after. I can still get this with replacement players until some sanity is brought back to the league and a CBA that also has the fans’ interests at heart. I am fully willing to pay stars like Dwight what they’re worth – even say $40M/yr. I am not happy though on paying for non-performing players that hurt the Magic’s ability to put a competitive team on the floor year in and year out.
As a fan I want my voice spoken (and hopefully heard).