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Why the NBA Lockout Doesn't Really Matter, and Why it Does

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not written much lately. Oh sure, I’ve remained active in the threads (and spammers notwithstanding, my trusty ban hammer has remained mostly sheathed during the lockout – well done, all of you!), but I have not "graced" the front page in months.

2011 has been one for the books for yours truly. Momma214 is now a resident of an assisted living facility, where she regularly reminds me of the frailty of life. More recently, Mrs. section214 has determined that she does not care to be Mrs. section214 anymore, and I am faced with starting my life over at the ripe old age of 52.

Please understand, I’m not whining or complaining here. OK, so I am whining and complaining here, but that’s beside the point. I know that I still have it better than others and worse than some. Daughter214 is a rock, I’m healthy, I have a job that I like (and they seem to like me), and I don’t look a day over 51. I’m not the first child that has had to take on the role of provider to his/her own parents, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not the first person to get divorced, and I likely won’t be the last. But the fact remains that my world, such as it is, fell in on me a bit this year. Another way of putting it is that I really got knocked on my ass. So I’m sure that you would understand me if I held that the NBA lockout is not very important in the grander scope of things.

But it is.

First, there was sport. Then came fans to watch the sports. Then came owners that understood that they could charge the fans to watch the sport, and eventually the players came to understand that they could be compensated for participating in the sport. And professional sport was born. And it was good.

And fans were fruitful and multiplied. And arenas arose throughout the land, and radio and TV networks spread the gospel. And Moses Malone said "Let the World B. Free!" And George begat Wilt, who begat Julius, who begat Magic and Larry, who begat Michael…or something like that. And there was peace throughout the land, except for a 32 game period in 1998-99, which completely turned around the fortunes of the Kings, so in the end we were pretty much OK with it.

Somewhere along the line (at least in the NBA version of sport), it was lost on both the owners and players as to why they exist, and who ultimately foots the bill. Yes, TV stations pay millions and millions to broadcast the games. But that is because fans tune in and watch. No fans, no millions of dollars. No bucks, no Buck Williams (sorry, "The Right Stuff" was on cable 35 times last month). The seats in the arenas don’t fill themselves, and the jerseys and hats and foam fingers never leave the store shelves if not for the fans. Professional sport exists for one reason and one reason only, and that is because of the loyal (and sometimes deaf, mute and blind) fan. The NBA exists because of you, and it exists because of me. For all of this talk of whether it’s easier to replace owners or players, the life blood of the NBA is the fan. No fan, no Fanderburke (again, sorry).

I can’t speak for others (though that rarely stops me from trying), but sport has always been my escape. Whether playing or watching, it has always been my time away from the "real" world. Sure, there are plenty of times where sport can overtake my real world. Bibby’s shot in game 5, would be one example, while 16-30 from the free throw line in game 7 would be another. I ache for my teams (cried when the Giants lost the series in ’02, cried again when they won it in ’10). I know that it’s just sports, and that it is nothing more than a diversion from my daily existence. And that when it’s all said and done and I’m finally put in the ground, the growth and success of our young Kings will not really be of any great importance to me.

But it is.

And this is where I can’t get my mind past the current (non) state of the NBA. Millionaires and billionaires squabbling over how to split up the billions and billions of dollars that NBA fans generate for them, all the while giving those same fans a big eff you. There has probably never been a time in my life where I need the diversion that is my Sacramento Kings more than I do right now, but it has become completely evident that the owners and players do not care. Not-one-bit. In an historically bad economy, in an era where the left and the right has eroded the middle and with it an opportunity for reasonable discussion, in a time where unemployment and cutbacks and foreclosures have crippled the once bright futures of millions of families, the owners and players refuse to recognize the impact that their acts of petulance and greed have on the fans. The fans that ultimately foot the bill. They don’t care about us. Not-one-bit.

So, if any of you readers are tight with David Stern or Adam Silver or Billy Hunter or Derek Fisher or any of the owners or any of the players, please tell them for me that they have reached a point where no one is going to win this battle. One side is going to lose, and the other side is going to lose bigger, and the fans are already losing biggest. Tell them for me that their fans need them now more than ever, and that their fans do not appreciate the situation that both sides have had a hand in developing. Tell them that you know people that have parents in assisted living and are going through a divorce that could really use a diversion otherwise known as "Your Sacramento Kings." Please tell them for me.

On second thought, don’t. Because upon reflection, it’s really not that important.

But it is.