Okay so NBA commissioner David Stern and former NBAPA head Billy Hunter, or whatever he is these days, have hammered out a deal that apparently is digestible to both sides.
This, after the players took their ball and went home after months of fruitless negotiations, dissolving the union. Evidently the threat of massive anti-trust lawsuits by the players which if successful, not only would have shut down the league for who knows how long but may have cost the owners a collective $6 billion – three times the annual players take.
Whatever. It’s not just about the money, right?
But there the two of them were in sweaters, looking all warm and avuncular in the middle of the night after a 15-hour bargaining session last weekend.
I give them credit, in a reluctant, back-handed way. I thought the season was toast but they got it done in double OT. The deal still has to be ratified by players but that’s a formality. The 66-game season begins in earnest on Christmas Day with a wall-to-wall schedule of five games wedged in between opening presents and turkey dinners. The locks come off team facilities December 1 so players can start workouts with training camp opening December 9. That gives them 16 days for training camp, a couple of exhibition games and bang – you’re into the regular season.
Actually, on some level, not a bad way to go. Sure teams with new coaches like the Raptors are going to be at a disadvantage because there’s always a learning curve with a new guy.
But hey, would you like their chances any better if Jay Triano were still calling the shots? Lockout and coach aside, the Raptors were on course for another ugly season no matter how it’s spun by BC (GM Brian Colangelo). The silver lining of course would be getting a high draft pick and word is, this will be a strong draft. So there is that to look forward to next year.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to this season — I do.
It somehow didn’t feel right with them not playing this time of year. It fills a bit of a void in my sports viewing calendar and provides a break from a steady diet of hockey, hockey, hockey. I’m not a hockey guy who hates or doesn’t care about basketball. I actually surprise myself a bit about how much I do enjoy the Raptors’ broadcasts both radio and TV.
Because of small rosters, the pace of the game and lack of bulky equipment you can see expressions and feel the emotion more clearly than practically any other team sport.
I think that’s what connects the fans to the game.
Listen, no one would’ve taken to the streets or occupy the NBA offices because they’re outraged about not having basketball. In the height of the lockout a poll in the US found that 76 per cent didn’t care if the NBA shut down for a season. Ouch.
C’est la vie.
I for one am glad — maybe not jumping up and down glad — but happy I’ll be coming back to Jack Armstrong, Matt Devlin and the Jones/Smith radio show. I miss those guys. They have fun calling the games and don’t take it all so deadly serious as it can be with hockey. It’s refreshing. Then again, it is the Raptors where a sense of humour is pretty much required.
And I mean that in a good way.