As one lockout slowly comes to an end, another one begins. The NBA owners will lock out their players tonight while they try to figure out a better system to operate under. The NBA, unlike the NFL, has as many as 22 teams losing money on an annual basis. The agreed upon number is that their are at least 12 teams operating in the red. Of course the NBA is a completely different animal from the NFL. The NBA is a star league driven by star players. Cities and therefore franchises are only successful if they can develop or acquire big name college or established players. The New York Knicks are a perfect example of a team that had lost attendance, and had become irrelevant in the league. They had no star players since Patrick Ewing left, and had disappeared from the landscape of New York and National sports. Once they were able to invest in Amare Stoudamire, and Carmelo Anthony, they were the talk of the NBA. They of course were a .500 team with both those players on the roster, and were swept in the first round of the playoffs, but they had star players and were again a topic of conversation. The NBA is not being sued by their players. This is a true lockout of the players and a complete shutdown of the league much like the NHL experienced a few years back. The NBA also has many owners that own NHL franchises, and they know first-hand the benefits they achieved by changing the way they pay players, and what they achieved by shutting down the league for a full season. The NBA and NBAPA are said to be so far apart that no deal will come quickly. The most optimistic diagnosis is the league may start up again sometime in February and play a 50 game season. The NBA will suffer from fans already sick of labor talk from the NFL. They will also suffer from the fact that November-January is prime NFL season, and no one will care what they are doing until February. The sense of urgency just won’t exist from the fans. The media will cover it sparingly as the NFL season chugs along. The NBA has real problems and this is a chance to make the changes it needs, and that won’t be a simple, or quick fix.
The NFL on the other hand is the NFL. The Shield, as the league is known, is bigger than any player. It’s nice to have big stars, but teams and franchises make the NFL successful. A tweet this morning from a former player asked the question if any fans root for owners. Of course we do. We are fans of our team. We adore certain players, but it’s the franchise, and their successes that makes us such loyal fans. This is verified by the amazing success of DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket which allows fans to watch their team no matter where they live. Fans don’t change loyalties in the NFL because free agents leave, coaches get fired, or even if they themselves move away. The League, The Franchises, and The Teams are the stars of the NFL.