In battle of billionaires vs millionaires, fans lose

Samantha Wendt, Sports Editor

Sunday, June 12, 2011. The events of that day were 31 years in the making. With determination, perseverance, hard work, and the refusal to give up no matter how large the deficit, the Dallas Mavericks had finally won their first NBA Championship against the Miami Heat.

LeBron James’s controversial decision to team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat to form a dream team not only netted him more haters, but produced a larger NBA fan base. Whether people loved or hated LeBron, they were tuning into games to find out how he was doing, which brought the NBA more followers, as evidenced by TV rating for the Mavericks clinching victory in Game 6 having the highest Game 6 rating in 11 years.

But instead of capitalizing on these gains, the NBA is once again isolating these returning fans due to the loss of games during the current lockout. With this being the second lockout involving a loss of games, the NBA is looking at several losses; the first lockout, during the 1998-1999 season, began playing games on February 1st, 1999. This year’s negotiations between the players union and the owners seem to be missing a crucial participant: the fans.

As a die-hard Mavs fan, and really just an all-around NBA fan, for the better part of the past 10 years, I can’t help but be thoroughly disappointed and let down by this current travesty.

Naively, I once thought the players played the game for their sheer love and passion for it. But after more than 120 days of reading about players and owners arguing over a less than three percentage points of the basketball related income (BRI), I’ve come to the conclusion that players play the game for one thing: their massive paycheck.

For me, I not only looked forward to Halloween as an opportunity to acquire outrageous amounts of free candy from complete strangers, but also because I knew the Mavericks season would start soon. However, this year, on November 1st, the Mavericks scheduled season opener, instead of watching the Mavericks be presented their championship rings and banner like I should have been, you could have found me re-watching Game 6 of the Finals (yes, I still have that game, as well as the other 3 other Finals games the Mavericks won saved on my DVR).

Unfortunately, about mid-way through re-watching the game, I came to terms with the fact that I simply couldn’t replace the current NBA season with old games. One of my favorite parts about watching sports is the spontaneity and flood of unforeseen emotions, and you just don’t get the same satisfaction if you already know what’s about to happen.

Therefore, I realized that I need to find another sport to follow. This time around though, I’m staying away from professional sports. Sure the athletes are better in pro sports, but the lockout has made me realize that I would rather watch a team that truly appreciates the game and is playing for fun, instead of a team that is being paid gargantuan sums of money to go out and play something that they claim to have an eternal love for (which I now know is a lie, for the most part).

So until the NBA season resumes (I would put my money on sometime early next year), you can find me dutifully following the world of college basketball, high school basketball, and NBA developmental league basketball.