Fans blame owners for NBA lockout but side with their positions
The lessons learned from the NBA lockout go beyond the frustration over lost basketball games and seeing two sides fighting over $4.3 billion during a poor economy.
It's that the rhetoric from each side has often mischaractierized the situation and the proceedings many times over. As I realized looking through a series of lockout-related poll questions, fan sentiment has often been mischaracterized as well.
No doubt, the 38.33% of about 200 voters blame the owners for the lockout lasting this long and 48.04% believe the players mainly drive the NBA's popularity. Many side with the players during the labor dispute (41.58%), think they've negotiated more in good faith (49.72%) and a majority (52.54%) believe they've made the most concessions. But they're not absolving the players from blame.
A 33.49% plurality think both owners and players make too much money and 73.39% of fans say they should also debate ways to lower ticket prices. But that doesn't mean fans will suddenly boycott the NBA; only 5.88% say they actually will. There's a 38.5% plurality who have followed every single meeting and maintain they could cite the proceedings from memory, while 34.76% simply want the NBA to wake them once they reach a deal.
The fans also appear to side with some ownership positions. Some fans argue for a 50-50 split in basketball-related income (33.54%), shortening contracts to three to four years (47.02%) and advocating for higher luxury taxes to curb both spending and ensure competitive balance (24.55%). A 54.3% majority love revenue sharing -- they must not be Laker fans -- and a 69.9% majority love an amnesty clause, presumably because these are Lakers fans eager for their team to cut ties with Luke Walton.
Don't mistake the fans' conflicting sentiments for them being ill informed. It's just that with 38.67% believing the owners will inevitably win the labor dispute, the players should minimize their losses. The responsibility also falls on the owners, fans say, with 21.18% arguing that being flexible with the BRI will allow the players to save face and make them feel more respected.
Surprisingly, fans aren't expressing much personal animosity toward either side. The majority all say they understand NBA Commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Players Assn. executive director Billy Hunter and players union president Derek Fisher are trying to satisfy their constituents. But that's hardly raising optimism, with both 23.5% of voters appearing equally split on believing the season will start in early December or not at all.
It appears the fans have some well-reasoned sense on this proceedings. Now it's time for the owners and players to ensure they maintain that same attitude.
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Photo: Many fans blame NBA Commissioner David Stern for the prolonged lockout. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images / October 4, 2011