I think I've reached withdrawal symptom stage level one. Level one is when you just about miss something that much that it kinda churns your stomach when you think about it. You know when you break up with that girl you were with for an extended period of time, and you bump into her/see her around and you remember why you liked her so much? It's kinda like that in a way. I know the NBA season wouldn't be on our screens right now, but it's the little things I miss the most. I miss free agency chatter around the web, same way you'd miss talking to that girl on the phone late at night.
I miss watching videos of rookies doing their thing with their new teams, trying to impress the coaches by giving their all in those first few few practices. Same way you miss the way you used to try impress that girl by making that little bit of an extra effort those first three or four dates you shared.
I miss the stupid trade rumors, I miss the shock signings and the bad deals teams sign off on. Same way you miss the way that girl would make you wear that one stupid shirt you own because she thinks you look good in it.
For me, the NBA is like that girl you took for granted and did just enough to get by when you had her. You never really realize how much of a good thing you had until it leaves you, or gets locked out in our case. There's a real (and more than likely possible) possibility that we may not see basketball in our Association for quite some time. No more Blake Griffin highlight reels, no more Derrick Rose twisting himself into a pretzel to finish a layup, no more Steve Nash making yet another one of those kinda passes, no more Dwight Howard doing something that makes you think "Man, imagine if he actually gave a crap". I miss the NBA that much that at this stage, I'd even love to see Kobe. Well, not love, but it would beat logging onto a basketball website and seeing some highlight reel of LeBron destroying some 16 year old kid in a gym in Wyoming.
I don't know how far apart the players and the union are away from thrashing out a deal, you don't know, and being honest I don't think anybody does. When you consider what both parties want, and how polar opposite they are, you know things are serious. Players don't want to miss out on money they feel they deserve, owners don't want to pay those same players the obscene amounts of money they earn now because the money they had is now dwindling away in front of their eyes. The league lost something like, $9 kajillion dollars last year, and that was on top of the fact that it was perhaps one of the most successful campaigns in years in terms of TV ratings and interest as a whole. This lockout thing has everyone thinking, everyone pondering how on earth it's going to be resolved. Everyone has a theory on how it can be fixed, you know that you can walk into any local sports bar by your house and within twenty minutes some genius will splurt out an idea of how the lockout can be fixed. I'm after doing it at least nine times today. I do agree with the owners that guaranteed money should be cut and that contracts shouldn't be allowed span more than 3 years. I like that idea. And I'll tell you why.
The top ten salaries in the NBA belong to (in correct and descending order) Kobe Bryant, Rashard Lewis, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Gilbert Arenas, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson. Of the ten I would say that only three deserve to be in there, those being Kobe, Tim and Dirk. Garnett isn't that kinda guy anymore, Pau Gasol isn't the best player on his own team so he shouldn't be there, Joe Johnson should be making significantly less than his $18 million annual salary, Carmelo and Amare combine to take up $36 million of the Knicks salary cap which in itself should be lawfully illegal. I'm not even commenting on Rashard Lewis. Last season, Gilbert Arenas averaged 11 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. His career resume reads; 2003 NBA Most Improved Player, All NBA 2nd Team in 2007, All NBA 3rd Team in 2005 and 2006. He made $17,730,694 last season. That defies logic.
For me, a rule I would love to introduce is one that prohibits a player from gaining an increase in his salary for the upcoming season if his stats from the season he just played were down on those of the previous season. For example, let's use NBA Player X. Player X (who is completely fictional by the way) made $8 million in 2009. He averaged 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists a game while logging on average 36 minutes a night. His salary for 2010 was set to be bumped up, but due to his average's in the season 2008 being 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists while only playing 35 minutes, his salary was reduced by one million dollars. If his numbers had gone up, a previously inserted clause would then determine by how much his salary increases. If this makes sense to you, please explain it to the ones who are now after turning off their computer and are sitting there scratching their heads wondering why I've just melted their minds for the next few hours.
You see if a player knows he'll get money taken off of him if his numbers dip, he'll naturally push himself to reach the required goals so he'll make the extra few million. Well, that's what you'd expect a player to do anyways. I'd also introduce certain team rules that would stop teams from paying more than one player over a certain amount, let's make the figure $14 million. If this rule existed, you might see some more competitiveness in our league. You'd see teams having a decent chance of staying relative because NBA Player X knows that he can make the most money at home, rather than up and leaving to join a fellow star player in South Bea...I mean, to join a fellow star player on another team wherever that team may be situated.
It would almost definitely eliminate super-teams, but would give a great chance to see basketball games that matter more than once a week. The Lakers wouldn't be able to have Kobe, Pau and Bynum. Two and a Half Men down in Miami wouldn't be happening, Melo wouldn't be in the Big Apple and neither would Chauncey Billups. Kevin Garnett might still be in Minnesota. This rule will never ever come to fruition, but its fun to think about isn't it?
To reward certain players and certain teams we'd also have to think up of exceptions and allowances. For example, if a player is with the one team for more than four years, he gets a bonus payment that is decided on by his current team. The payment would be made over the next three years, thus ensuring his tenure with his team is extended. This payment wouldn't count on the teams salary cap for the upcoming season either. Players would get bonuses for making All Star teams, all NBA Teams or finishing in the top three of individual awards voting. Teams would be rewarded by staying under the salary cap by getting back that number in a payment from the teams who go over. For instance, if the cap was set at $55 million and New Orleans had a total salary bill of $51 million, they would then get paid $4 million dollars which would be paid by all the teams who were over the cap. Would this rule even work? I'm not so sure. But its fun to think about, isn't it?
Fun to think about the same way it's fun to think about that girl you once dated, the one that when she was gone you only then knew what you actually had. Sooner or later, a side is going to crack in these negotiations, or they'll settle on a common ground. They'll miss what they once had, and they'll want it back.
Then and we'll all be winners...I just shudder to think when "then" will actually be here.
Follow David on Twitter @DOL17
Photo Credit: Crossover Chronicles