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I became upset while driving through Uptown Charlotte on a recent Saturday night.
The source of anger, you ask?
A sign that directs drivers and pedestrians to Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Charlotte Bobcats play.
That sign immediately reminded me of the ongoing NBA lockout that has pitted team owners against the players. As billionaires fight millionaires over how the league's revenue should be split, the result is that no NBA games will be played in the foreseeable future.
On July 1, a deal known as the collective bargaining agreement expired, and another agreement has yet to be signed. This reality leaves basketball fans like me quite upset and disappointed.
Talks about a possible lockout began to surface two years ago. Agents were telling players then to save money in the event of a work stoppage in 2011.
And they were right. Here we are – it's November 2011. The NBA regular season was supposed to begin this week. So those signs that promote professional basketball in Uptown Charlotte are worthless right now.
Because owners and players have yet to sign a new collective bargaining agreement, the league's commissioner had no choice but to cancel all of November's games. He's already said that a full 82-game season won't be played.
There's hope that a deal can be reached in time to save December, but that likelihood doesn't look promising.
So, ESPN, TNT and other networks have to reschedule programming while basketball arenas across the county are left dark and empty.
Naturally, sports fans are bummed, but I really feel bad for the day-to-day working person who has a job tied to the NBA.
Think of all the arena workers and folks who handle ticket sales and marketing, for example. They may not be able to provide for their families right now. And unfortunately, some team employees have already been laid off.
I keep up with the labor negotiations pretty much on a daily basis. I honestly held off on writing this piece for weeks in hopes that a deal would be made. But when the two sides meet, talks break off and the commissioner ends up canceling more games shortly afterward.
The NFL was mired in its own lockout earlier this year, but that league was able to get a deal done and play a full season. I know the NFL is a lot more popular than the NBA in several sectors, but there are a lot of folks upset about this ongoing lockout.
Take Lancaster native Jahquiis Alston, for instance.
Alston said he's disappointed because he's been looking forward to watching the NBA, which is coming off arguably its most successful season in nearly 15 years.
“More and more talented stars are entering the NBA,” said Alston, who mentioned the soaring television rates from the 2010-11 season.
Alston also shares his thoughts on the labor negotiations. The chief issue right now is how to split the nearly $4 billion in revenue the league generates annually. The owners have proposed a 50-50 split. However, the players are asking for at least 52 percent, which is a considerable drop from the 57 percent they took in the preview agreement. At one point, the owners reportedly asked for 53 percent of the revenues.
“I think the owners are being greedy because without the players, they don't make money,” Alston said. “Asking for 47 percent and 50 percent of the profit is being a little too steep.”
Forty-seven, 50, 53 or whatever the percentage, I just want them to get this thing settled. If not, we'll be missing a lot.
I'm eager to see who will be the surprise teams this year. I can't wait to once again cheer against the Lakers and Spurs and watch LeBron James help strengthen my argument of why I think he's the best.
And as a Charlotte Bobcats fan, I look forward to heading back down to TWC Arena for some live NBA action.
Partying and dining shouldn't be the only reasons I frequent Uptown Charlotte; a Bobcats game or two would be nice as well.
So come one, NBA. I don't want to have to write a follow-up piece that's more dismal than this.