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A Few More "System Issues" for the NBA and Its Fans

Since everybody's talking about collective bargaining, I thought I'd chime in with a few "system issues" of my own.  These can't be included in a CBA but they'd sure improve the NBA environment if followed.

Players

Remember that you get paid to play a game, a form of entertainment for other people to enjoy.  Cut those other people out of the equation--make it all about you--and you have nothing.  No matter what your income bracket or unique skill set, if you divorce the common person from the process your ability to pursue this career diminishes.

Guaranteed contracts work both ways.  Your employer cannot say, "I'm having a bad day and not feeling particularly like paying you" and give you 70% of your salary.  Giving 70% effort or not putting in the practice to make the most of your abilities breaks your side of the guarantee.  The more of you who do this the more the perception of your game will suffer.

People associate with teams as much as individuals.  Helping your team win absolves you of plenty of individual ills.  Watching you score 30 per night will not absolve your team of losing in the long run.  Do what is necessary to create the win first and individual accolades will follow.

Your comparatively massive salaries are compensation, in part, for being a public figure.  That means your game is open to discussion, even criticism, from the people who observe you.  When you're tempted to get offended by this remember that nobody talking about you means nobody is noticing.  Chefs, actors, and artists all put their work on display.  Their skills would be meaningless otherwise.  You're in the same boat...and you get handsomely rewarded for it.

You don't have to be a hero.  You don't have to be a perfect role model.  You cannot completely disregard the public nature of your role, however.  Don't embarrass yourself, your city, or your organization.  Don't encourage others to do so either.  Just take basic precautions with your "iffy" behavior, the same as any normal person would take.  Don't pretend that your position lifts you above everyone else, as that's the same as saying your fans don't matter.

Owners

Read the first paragraph to players above and apply it to yourselves.   You depend on a connection between fan base and organization.  Even if money separates, love of basketball unites.  Therefore you need to define yourself more by the basketball that binds you than by the money that differentiates you from the masses.  When in doubt do what's right for the team's legacy and the city.  You will be rewarded.

Public assistance is not a quid pro quo of ownership.  If the organization is well-managed and the team builds a successful community history you'll probably find people willing to help when it's time for a new stadium.  But if you show up like an entitled child you're probably going to find those doors shutting. 

That said, there is an element of community trust to the endeavor.  You're a steward of the team as much as an owner.  The more the public perceives their co-ownership of that legacy the more they'll be willing to support it.

Hire people who care about the public as much as their own ability.  If you don't want to be the spokesperson for the team that's understandable, but somebody needs to have skill in that area.

Fans are not dumb sheep, especially in this day and age.  No marketing slogan or ticket sales drive is going to replace competence in your front office, effort on the floor, and accessibility while pursuing both.

Fans are not dumb sheep Part Two:  You don't have to tell the whole truth, but when questions are asked you have to say something and it better be true.

Fans

Buying a ticket and watching commercials during games give you the right to talk, criticize, cheer, or boo as you please.  You are entitled to any opinion you wish to espouse.  There's no call to frame those opinions in derogatory terms, as if the people you're talking about aren't really people.  Community connection goes both ways.  How can you expect people to reach out to you when you call them idiots at the drop of a hat?  How can you expect people to take pride in their work and community contributions when all they hear is criticism for it?  (And lest you think they hear plenty of praise, what do you remember most out of your day, the 50 people who greeted you nicely or the one guy who flipped you off in traffic?) How can you expect people to regard you as not stupid when you act like you are?  If you want them to be real people then treat them like real people, both in person and when you talk about them.

Buying a ticket entitles you to view decent effort in pursuit of an entertaining sport.  It does not entitle you to a victory.

Neither can you purchase a hero or a role model.  Those are extra bonuses when they happen, which they often do.  When a player doesn't fulfill those roles you have to let it go as long as that player isn't causing egregious harm.  None of you is perfect.  None of you is all things to all people.  You can't expect athletes to be those things either.  Players being civil and presenting a good public face so as not to interfere with enjoyment of their sport is plenty.  Like them because they play basketball well and hard.  Regard anything else as added value.

This isn't a charity, it's a business.  If you enjoy it, support it.

If you've lost your sense of humor and lost your sense of fun then you've lost the purpose of the game.

Add your own thoughts for any of the above groups in the comment section if you wish!  If anybody comes up with some great ones we'll add them to the post as the day goes by.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

P.S.  Note the address change.  Both the old and new accounts will be operative for a while, but please switch over mail to gmail for convenience.