Over at ESPN’s spinoff “Grantland” Vishnu Parasuraman has laid out the most detailed, compelling and ultimately depressing account of exactly why we’ll get basketball at some point this season as well as why all arguments about NBA players versus owners are basically garbage.
While there have been ultimatums and heavy words this week the fact remains that there is still not NBA season yet and very likely won’t be for some time, but it will happen, and it will happen this year. Similar to the NFL lockout these are essentially arguments between rich owners and less rich owners and in the end they decide they’ll split the difference by taking a chunk out of player salaries. However, let’s get a few things straight here. ALL NBA OWNERS are rich. They were rich before they bought their teams. Not one NBA owner bought a franchise in order to expand their empire, they purchased them as a hobby. More specifically, as social theorist Malcolm Gladwell points out, “a hobby that gets you into an exclusive club, hobby that you can make money off of if you’re lucky, but a hobby nonetheless.”
Some owners make some money or get championships out of their hobby and they’re more or less happy with the current deals on the table, other owners like Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen are pissed off because they actually lose a few dollars on their hobby and now they want to pack up and go home.
Imagine a hobby that a regular person might have, like dog breeding or cycling or competitive ballroom dancing. You can spend a lot of money on hobbies like that, and maybe once in awhile you’ll win the regional county wide swing dance contest, get a blue ribbon and $500.00 which might just cover the cost of your costumes and the hotel you and your wife stayed at for the competition. But you’re doing it for fun. You know the chances that you’d get rich are slim, but you enjoyed being in a community of other swing dancers and being competitive. Most couples that swing dance aren’t ever going to win $500.00 and they accept that going in. Greedy NBA owners aren’t so nonchalant about their hobbies.
Here’s why in nutshell NBA players will cave and we’ll get a season: NBA owners don’t need their ‘hobby’ of ownership to make money, but players do. Unlike the NFL, where stadiums have limited uses and owners might take a hit or two if they stayed empty for months, NBA arenas can be used for conventions, concerts and a whole slew of other events. Owners can re-coup some cash, players can’t. Also consider what this ‘hobby’ is to some of the owners. Paul Allen, owner of the Trailblazers is worth 13.2 billion dollars. If he loses 5 million dollars through a lost NBA season according to Vishnu that’s the equivalent of someone worth $30,000 losing 10 bucks. What’s worse? The entire NBA supposedly lost 300 million last year (an amount the players dispute) and if Allen lost THAT much money on his hobby that’s the equivalent of someone worth $30,000 losing $630.00. So in the end, the players will give in because the owners have a hobby, and players have a job.
This article originally appeared at Politic365.com.