Thursday, June 30, 2011

Salary of $ 25 million and on strike

Just imagine this. You earn a salary of $ 25m a year. And then you go on strike demanding improved wages. Believable ?? You better believe it. Kobe Bryant (arguably the best basketball player in the world, for those readers not familiar with sport), earns that salary, but is on strike from tonight. Actually not just Kobe. Every basketball player who plays in the NBA ( unsporting types - that's the National Basketball Association, which runs the League in the US of A.)

The NBA is a private league. Players have formed a union and there is a collective bargaining agreement every few years. The last agreement expires today. Negotiations with owners of the teams has broken down. No deal; so there is a lock out.

The team owners are losing money. The players claim they aren't getting enough money. Despite the wild popularity of the game. Unlike other American sports such as Football (the American variety) and Baseball, which have limited appeal outside the country, basketball  is wildly popular in Europe, and most important of all, in China. Yet the League loses money. As always, money is at the heart of the dispute.

The issues under negotiations are technical, perhaps only of interest to a die hard NBA fan like myself. Both the owners and the players are driven by absurd greed. The trouble is that there are a lot of others, who depend on the NBA for a living, but who don't have a say in this matter. You would think the players should be the last group that needs a union, but that's the way it is. With the lockout, what's going to happen to the cheerleaders. The ushers and ticket sellers in  the stadiums. The guys who clean the locker rooms. The pretzel sellers. All out of a job and on the dole.

And what about the fan. He's the one who pays all of them - owners and players included. If the millions like me stop following the game, there is no $25m for Mr Bryant. Of all the people the owners and the players are taking for granted, its the fan. The poor little (or big !) Joe Public who is passionate about the game. Who relives every great moment in the sport. Who remembers the famous dunk of Shaq against Portland. Or Jordan's 20 footer in Game 6 against the Jazz with 5.2 seconds to go. Or his 38 points against the unfortunate Jazz, battling flu, dehydration , sick as hell. Even Derek Fisher, the current head of the Players Union winning against the Spurs with a shot taken  0.4 seconds before time expired.

You lot - owners and players alike -  need a bollocking. Pampered rich kids who need to stop throwing tantrums. Don't quibble over small change when you guys are very well off. Get an agreement, lift the lockout.

And may the great game keep flowing.