NBA lockout could have long-term ramifications

Dante Geoffrey

After three straight days of mediated negotiation last week, the NBA and its players came no closer to agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement, which could mean game cancellations through Christmas or longer.

If a deal isn’t reached by early 2012 (there is a rumored deadline of Jan. 7) the entire season could be lost.

Everyone has an opinion on who’s to blame, but it’s not a simple right-and-wrong situation. Despite what Bryant Gumbel thinks, this issue is not so black-and-white.

I have no interest in assigning blame or supporting one side. It’s hard to get behind either side in a multi-billion dollar negotiation between two parties that will walk away with ridiculously high-paying jobs no matter the outcome.

Instead, I am interested in how this lockout and potential non-season will affect specific players, teams and fan bases.

Here is what the NBA lockout makes me stress out over.

The seasons we may never see

A lost NBA season would mean one less year to watch one of the best talent pools in league history. Star players LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and even second-year player Blake Griffin are all in their prime. It would be a travesty for fans if a year of these players’ best basketball was lost forever.

The implications of all of those players and more missing an entire season go far beyond 2011-12. Some of these players have the talent to break records and assemble Hall of Fame careers. While one season likely won’t prevent a player from entering the Hall, nor would it mean the player was any less amazing, it would limit their historical legend – fair or not – in this stat-crazy sports world.

The long-term effects

As a lifelong fan of the Golden State Warriors (you can send your condolences to the email below), I understand the importance of young talent and the hope it brings to a fan base.

As a resident of Sacramento, I see the hope throughout the city and hear it on sports-talk radio.

Both the Warriors and the Kings have exciting young stars upon whom the fans have placed the franchise. But players like Stephen Curry and DeMarcus Cousins won’t become the franchise players we want them to be unless they, you know, play.

In my lifetime the Warriors have suffered from Chris Cohan’s ownership, Latrell Sprewell, P.J. Carlesimo, Latrell Sprewell choking P.J. Carlesimo, Larry Hughes, horrible jerseys, drafting Mike Dunleavy third overall, giving Adonal Foyle a contract – like people know who Adonal Foyle is, and the most apathetic coach in NBA history, Don Nelson.

I really don’t want to add the stunting of Stephen Curry’s development to that list.

For Sacramento, more is at stake than the tutelage of Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette, or as I call him, “basketball’s Tim Tebow.”

A city’s last chance

Less than a year ago it seemed a foregone conclusion the Kings would leave Sacramento for Anaheim. Through the efforts of Mayor Kevin Johnson and a bunch of other people who are not running for office and therefore did not get publicity, the Kings remained in Sacramento for at least one more season while the city tries to finalize a deal for a new arena.

Now with the lockout looming, the season that was supposed to generate momentum and fan support and prove Sacramento deserves to be an NBA town may never happen. How will this impact the arena deal? I don’t know. It may not. But the 2011-12 season was all Sacramento was promised, and now that the promise may be broken, it’s hard to remain positive.

In 15 years basketball fans won’t talk about federal mediators and union representatives. They’ll talk about a season being stolen from aging players and developing young stars. They’ll talk about a city left to wonder, and fans left with nothing.

Dante Geoffrey can be reached at asports@statehornet.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @dantegeoffrey.