That Was the Lockout that Was (told through comments)

Hey. My name is Cesar, I’m a friend of Aaron's, and the same guy he was talking about in the Andrew Bynum player capsule. Short version: I’m a Hispanic Lakers fan, I made a religion based off of Bynum's elbow, and I carry with me a sincere hope that a fight breaks out in every sports game I watch. I was unironically opposed to trading Bynum for Melo last season (and not just for the sake of my religion). Aaron is letting me write an article, which is very nice of him. Classy stuff: just the type of behavior you’d expect from a fan of the most boring team in sports. I don’t know if I’ll stick around, but it’s always nice to try new things, so let's get started.

As you all know, the lockout sucked. Crazy as it may sound, though, there were actually people who thrived in the absence of basketball. These folks engaged in acts of schadenfreude over the season that wasn't, due to their irrational hatred of basketball and/or the NBA. Others, too, thrived -- people who enjoyed the game didn't quite approve of a cancelled season, but still managed to display an incredible, inexcusable degree of ignorance about the lockout. There's no way around it: These people deserve to be scorned and ridiculed for their terrible opinions. So, who are they? Really very easy to find, just go to your favorite sports site, and then find any article about the lockout! Then you can scroll down to the dark soulless abyss known colloquially as the comments section. To save you some time, I've undertaken this dark work myself and made a record of it. Click the jump as I take you on a tour through the worst of sports fandom at one of the lowest points of the lockout. Make yourselves comfortable.

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Happy Days are Here Again (or: goodnight, sweet lockout)

Goodbye, lockout. Go ahead and leave us alone forever now. And go ahead and let the door hit you on the way out. Last night, not 30 minutes after I went to sleep, both sides came to an agreement and signed off on a settlement to end the litigation, complete the lockout, and bring us a season starting on December 25th. Dave Checketts' heart is smiling. Now, us here at the Gothic have been making the best of the lockout (see: our Lockout Coverage tag) and we'd like to think we did a good job of covering it. But let's not beat around the bush. Nobody seriously wants to cover the lockout for a year, and nobody seriously wants to read about the lockout for a year. That would've been awful.

Thank God it's over, and thank God that arena workers can at least get 33 games of guaranteed income starting in 30 days. And that the bars and eateries suffering from the lockout can get the patronage they need starting on Christmas Day, if they can just survive until then. In all the player/owner love, very few people have been mentioning them -- and that's a shame, because it's THESE people that we should be giving our love to right now. They're the ones who have done the majority of the suffering. And they're the ones who I'm most glad will reap the benefits. Regardless. The NBA hasn't released the full deal yet, but by tilling through a variety of sources, we can pull together just enough information to start commenting on the deal in hand. Once we get a full reveal of the new CBA, I'll do a long analysis of that working off my last analysis. But until then? Scraps will do. Click the jump as I examine these scraps and muse on their importance. Continue reading

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Hunter."

So, despite this blog being around for less than a month, I've already written a heck of a lot of copy about this awful lockout. I wrote an angry rant about Jordan for his hypocrisy. I wrote a piece highlighting why my history with depression made me afraid to give up on the season. I wrote an excruciatingly long three part series (almost 9000 words, overall) analyzing the CBA proposal to try and cut through the spin from both sides. I did the research and tracked down an extensive list of lockout layoffs to try and shed some light on the front office impact of the lockout. I've done my time, in short. I would like the lockout to end. It won't, though, so I suppose I'll just need to keep writing furious rants.

On that note, today's furious rant! Continue reading

A modest examination of the NBA’s proposal (Part 3)

This post is part three of a three part series examining the final doomed CBA proposal pre-disclaim.

The other day, the NBA officially released the terms of the final CBA proposal sent to Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher in the latest CBA negotiations. The players rejected it, throwing negotiations into a death cycle and all but destroying our chances of seeing a 2012 champion crowned. Before the proposal was killed, I started a series examining it point-by-point to see how bad it actually was. Being someone who finishes what he starts, I decided to finish the job despite the irrelevance of the act. This is the final part of this series. Join us tomorrow for an angry summation rant on the subject of the lockout. Until then, bask in the glory of the CBA none of us will ever see applied. Continue reading

Tracking the Lockout Layoffs, team by team.

Hello, everyone. I was going to finish my CBA proposal analysis series with a post featuring a long angry rant about the disclaimer process and the general tenor of the negotiations. But I got roped into a discussion earlier with the imitable Mr. Swanson of Rufus on Fire (who, by the way, you should vote for here to get him a scholarship -- stand-up blogger, hilarious guy) in trying to determine how many people had been laid off by the lockout. Ever since May, I've been keeping a text file with references for the number of employees each team has been reported to have fired. I realized during that conversation that not everyone has been keeping close tabs on the labor situation, and there's a pretty good reason for that. Namely, nobody has actually posted a compilation of all collected sources on employees laid off team-by-team.

Consider this a compilation for that reason. After the jump, I've put together a table including every current source for layoffs on a team-by-team basis, along with our most recent update for the team in question, the number of layoffs reported for that team, and a few choice notes whenever applicable. I'll keep updating this throughout the lockout as we get wind of new layoffs, or as unreported layoffs get reported. Please don't hesitate to email us at if you have any news of further layoffs that we don't have yet, any more reliable sources to back up our general hodgepodge of news sites, or any anonymous tips for the teams we have no sources for. Or if you just like emailing people, I guess...? Continue reading

A modest examination of the NBA's proposal (Part 2)

This post is part two of a three part series examining the final doomed CBA proposal pre-disclaim.

The other day, the NBA officially released the terms of the final CBA proposal sent to Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher in the latest CBA negotiations. I began, earlier today, a point-by-point analysis trying to determine what the players would do. The more I looked at the CBA, the more convinced I was that they'd take it based on the tenor of negotiations. I was wrong. They rejected it, disbanded the union, and plunged the NBA into nuclear winter. Not the players' fault, mind you. This is supposed to be a relatively neutral look at the CBA proposal and an honest delineation of its merits and demerits. Although it's now little more than a curiosity for the sake of itself, maybe by going through it I'll come to some epiphany about why the NBA is, for all intensive purposes, gone. I will continue to go through it, point by point. Though only God knows why. Continue reading

A modest examination of the NBA's proposal (Part 1)

This post is part one of a three part series examining the final doomed CBA proposal pre-disclaim.

The other day, the NBA officially released the terms of the final CBA proposal sent to Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher in the latest CBA negotiations. Among the myriad terrible PR moves by both sides during this excruciating lockout, this is one of the more transparent and respectable things they've done. The majority of the lockout coverage has been through hearsay and anonymous sources. To actually release the proposal on the table publically both opens the NBA up to criticism and allows fans and media to actually take a look at the real proposal and figure out what they like, and what they don't. How bad of a deal is it, essentially? If the players blow up talks today and decide to decertify (edit: they did, making this more a retrospective curiosity than anything substantial -- not that I'm going to let that keep me from finishing the job), is it a reasonable response? Given that we now have the ability to do it, I'm going to put on my thinking cap and find out just how crummy the deal is. So let's go through it, point by point. Continue reading

Depression, the NBA, and me.

Depression is, at its core, a selfish disease. I once heard someone describe his depression as walking into a McDonalds and immediately being paralyzed with the fear that everyone in there was judging him. It obviously wasn't true -- after all, nobody was looking at him, and everyone was wrapped in their own little world. It's honestly a pretty narcissistic thing to assume that everyone in a room is waiting on your every move to judge you. But despite that, to the mind of many people who suffer from depression, the faintest sideways glance, the most imperceptible frown, the offhanded sigh -- all of them are magnified to impossible levels. Their existence all seem to inexplicably signify the weight of the sins and guilt a depressed man carries on a day to day basis. It isn't logical. It doesn't make sense. And people who are depressed realize that, dwell on it, and feel worse about it all. Because self-obsession is actively harmful when you legitimately hate yourself. But alas. Still happens.

Another thing most are familiar with is the "I can't get out of bed" type of depression. Those days when the weight of the world and living with the mistakes you've made -- many or few as those may be -- is too much and you simply cannot bring yourself out of bed without some sort of substance, or incentive, or -- for some people -- simply convincing yourself that if you stay in bed you're a terrible, horrible person. Thus perpetuating the cycle. It's always a cycle, really -- you try to do something, do it wrong, mentally eviscerate yourself for it, feel bad for doing that, etc, etc. You try to stop feeling sorry for yourself and end up playing a mental cat and mouse game, pretending you're Kevin Garnett and screaming at yourself like you're a misbehaving stanchion. Stop doing that. Be happy. Stop it. Why do you do this. Great questions, even without proper punctuation. But the answer always seems elusive.

I have lived the majority of my life with severe depression.

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Jordan Rules, Part II: "Go Away, I Already Got Mine"

Today, I read two very important articles within about 15 minutes of each other. They set off an incredibly angry tirade in my head that I couldn't do all that much about, and still can't. Except write it down. Which, as millions of NBA fans everywhere are uncomfortably discovering, is virtually all we can do. We hold no leverage, no power, no pull. And while I'm not saying we should have all that much power here, there are moments when I can't help but get depressed by the fact that we have absolutely nothing we can do but wait and see what happens while borderline insane factions of owners battle a downtrodden and de-toothed player's union. Nonetheless. The first story I read, thanks to Kelly Dwyer, was a somewhat interesting exchange from the run up to the 1999 lockout.

During the mass owner-player meeting yesterday, Jordan engaged in a heated exchange with Wizards owner Abe Pollin. Jordan's showdown with Pollin and fellow Bull Steve Kerr's verbal battle with David Stern were the highlights of the 11/2-hour meeting, according to several players.

According to players, Pollin said about his fellow owners, "You just have to trust us."

Jordan fired back, saying, "You've got to trust our negotiators." Jordan also blasted owners for not bargaining in good faith in the offseason and said to Pollin, "If you can't make a profit, you should sell your team."

Sound familiar? Dan Gilbert's "trust my gut" line isn't really a new sentiment. Abe Pollin's pleading for the players' trust is just about the same, and just about as baseless. There's no particular reason to trust an ownership group who is trying to kill your union. Jordan was right for standing up to the owners. But, really -- the 1999 lockout isn't the 2011 lockout, as we're discovering. And to be honest? The owners during the 1999 lockout were clearly operating from a position of better faith than the 2011 lockout. As I discovered firsthand from this particularly infuriating piece from the New York Times outlining the demands of a certain faction of the owners. Led by none other than the league's all-time golden boy. The same person from the previous story, in fact.

A faction of 50 N.B.A. players is threatening to dissolve the union if it compromises further on player salaries. The league is facing an equivalent threat from a trenchant group of owners, who are vowing to oppose any deal that gives players more than 50 percent of revenue.

The owners’ faction includes between 10 and 14 owners and is being led by Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, according to a person who has spoken with the owners. That group wanted the players’ share set no higher than 47 percent, and it was upset when league negotiators proposed a 50-50 split last month. According to the person who spoke with the owners, Jordan’s faction intends to vote against the 50-50 deal, if negotiations get that far. Saturday’s owners meeting was arranged in part to address that concern. ...

Despite the misgivings of some owners, Commissioner David Stern has said publicly that he can garner support for a 50-50 deal and will continue pushing for it. But the longer the negotiations drag on, and the more games are canceled, it is more likely that the hard-line owners will demand reductions. That group backed an initial proposal that would have cut the players’ share to 37 percent (from 57), eliminated guaranteed contracts, rolled back current salaries and imposed a hard salary cap. The league has since dropped those demands over the objections of those owners.

This is a lot to digest. So let's start at the top. The picture I started this post with is a photo of Michael Jordan's house. Jordan bought that house in 2010. It's worth $12.4 million dollars -- $4.8 million for the land, $7.6 million for the construction. It's highly likely that my net worth over my entire career will be less than this house he built, using money he earned as a player and as an icon. And that's quite his right. What I don't think is quite his right is demanding that players submit to completely fucking insane draconian proposals. Jordan always had his brand behind him, and from the time he took off in the NBA, he essentially was set for life. Jordan was never a middle-class NBA player -- a star from day one, all things considered. But he didn't let that stop him from fighting for the players in 1999, and helped the players get a deal that was -- frankly -- the best deal any professional athletes had in any league.

Now? It appears that Jordan has pulled a Harvey Dent. He has lived long enough to not only become the biggest villain we've seen in this lockout, but to become a grotesque caricature of one to boot. A villain who demands the players' unconditional surrender with no recompense, despite the fact that not less than 10 years ago he was among their ranks. A villain who would rather endanger the legacies and careers of dozens of young stars with a lockout that lasts not just months, but years than accept a deal that lets the players save face and protect their sport for future players. You couldn't write a better comic book villain here. You may not remember when the owners released their original proposal -- nobody paid it much attention, because it was fucking crazy. The rollback of all current salaries? No guaranteed contracts? A rock-hard punitive cap, and a reduction of the player's BRI share by TWENTY PERCENT? No way any owner actually thought that was reasonable, the story went. There's nobody on the owner's side who's that crazy. That's the equivalent of walking into a new car lot, demanding a Mercedes for a nickel, then being flabberghasted that they won't sell you the Mercedes for five dollars -- after all, you've made some SERIOUS concessions. Nobody could possibly demand that in good faith. Right?

Oh. Wait. It looks like Jordan's batshit crazy competitive desire doesn't just apply to basketball. It doesn't just apply to the obsessive way he approaches gambling. It doesn't just apply to his rude, cantankerous, and altogether inappropriate Hall of Fame speeches. It also applies to the way he does business. And unfortunately for NBA fans, Jordan has finally latched onto the one place where he CAN do business this way -- if Jordan ran a business in a competitive market and made demands like this, nobody would work for him, and he wouldn't be able to be quite this insane and still pull a profit. But the NBA isn't a competitive market, it's a cartel. The owners have a monopoly on the only professional basketball league in the country -- there's no ABA to go to, no backup plan for the players. It's NBA or bust. And if the owners want to be pathetic racists a la Donald Sterling, the only person who can really do anything about it is Stern. If the owners want to be money-grubbing crazy people like Robert Sarver, nobody really can bat an eye. And if the owners want to demand insane concessions and cry foul at the players for trying to preserve their livelihood? Well, looks like nobody can even say much of anything.

After all, he's God disguised as Michael Jordan. Right?