This was in ESPN The Magazine which arrived today. I disagree on some of the points (I tend to side more with the owner over the players), but it brings up some of the flaws on both sides of the table.
BTW..any guesses on who the player is? Definitely a veteran based off the comment at the end of #5 suggesting players should attend a mandatory business class (I think they've been doing that for a few years...ala Beasley's suspension as a rookie). Maybe Tim Duncan?
Player X is an anonymous NBA star. This is his fourth column.
ON JULY 1, THE NBA WILL LOCK OUT ITS PLAYERS. That is for sure. And it may do more than wipe out next season. I've been told to prepare to miss the following one, too. The owners and players are that far apart.
Well, I can tell you that the players are ready. For more than a year our union reps have been advising us to save money. All my friends have cut back -- on cars, bling, you name it. Me too. I won't need another paycheck until 2013.
But the problems between the two sides are real, and they've got to be dealt with. Here's my chance to do my part. I'm not a lawyer or an accountant; I'm not even a union rep. So I can't speak about numbers or CBAs. But I can present to my fellow players and our owners a road map that will not only end the battle but also prevent any further troubles.
1. Remember the stakes.
Without basketball, our fans will turn to the NFL and MLB. And once they go, it will take a long time to win them back. If they're not spending on our tickets and gear, we aren't earning to our potential. (You got money; we want it. Welcome to the food chain.) But while the stoppage will hurt the players some, we ain't sweating. Can the owners say the same? I predict a full-season lockout causes more than one franchise to fold.
2. Find new resources.
Owners say they're losing money. If that's true, it's their fault and makes me think they're not very bright. (I'll explain in a second.) We need owners who are smarter, hungrier, bolder and richer. The NBA was onto something when it okayed the sale of the Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Just like that, a dying franchise had a legit shot at landing LeBron. How many other rich foreigners are smiling as they monitor our sexy, cash-strapped league? We need to become a league where only the strong survive -- no matter where they call home.
3. Clean house.
The owners need to stop blaming us for their hardships and start scrutinizing the "geniuses" in the front office who handle their dough. Our teams are run by one weak GM after another, guys who blow millions on overvalued players, then blame the rest of us for driving the league into the ground. The only way to win is to spread the money around. You can't max out on a bold-faced name like Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson and still fill a roster with a worthy support crew. And you can't get a ring with that kind of incomplete team. Owners need to find some new GMs, or become de facto GMs themselves, like Mark Cuban. When you hold your own purse strings, you open them more carefully.
4. Lower the max salary.
Hear me out, players. Owners want to cut our salaries by a third, and that's just ridiculous. They've built a billion-dollar business on our shoulders, and suddenly we're worth a third less? Of course we're never going to go for that. But if they brought that max number down, owners could put a little something in their pockets and still build a contender. Kobe can live on a few million less, I promise you.
5. Take a look in the mirror.
We players are our own worst enemy. The guys I know don't watch their bank accounts or even know how to do their taxes, and we lend money like crazy. I haven't seen a dime on 70 percent of the loans I've given out. If family wants money, cool. Friends? Forget it. Most of us aren't good with investments, either. Ever since real estate went to hell, we've been buying car washes (dumb) and record companies (really dumb). We have to go back to the basics. I know few NBA guys who carry cash or can even find their checkbook. While we're at it, the league, or maybe the union, should start requiring every rookie to take a business class.
6. Change the tone.
I don't sit in on the negotiations, but from what I hear, David Stern is a beast -- a tough bargainer, to say the least. Now, we have a lot of smart fellas -- guys like Derek Fisher -- running the Players Association, and we stand by them. If my union asks me to march with signs or to hand out PB&Js, I'm there. But deep down, I blame them, too. We need to chill the hell out. This isn't war; it's business. We have a chance to save our season and strengthen our league. I pray we do. Because, damn, I hate watching baseball.