So they NBA lockout is into it's 146th day. There are rumors that the two sides are meeting for the first time since the player's union decertified a few weeks ago. However, I'm not very hopeful. Mostly because I read Bill Simmons. The man that brought us all the Book of Basketball is a well known sports columnist for ESPN and has recently started his own blog/site Grantland, where he is the chief editor.
Simmons has recently published an article about the NBA lockout and has had some pretty interesting ideas about how the NBA ought to restructure itself. Mostly, I agree with Simmons. What I don't understand is his and others ideas and complaints about how owners deal with and treat players. According to Simmons, the commissioner of the NBA and the owners of the individual franchises have gone after players "like an overbearing principal". Now, I understand how people don't like being told what to do, however, Simmons gives a laundry list of things that David Stern has mandated in the last decade. These things include a dress code, showing up to work functions on time, taunting, and physical altercations (on the court, and in the stands). Apparently, players balk at these sorts of the things, and are basically defended by sports writers like Simmons, Mike Wise, and Bryant Gumbel. Gumbel even goes as far as to call these sorts of things racially motivated (which even Simmons has decided went too far).
The thing that I don't understand, and what most people who work for a living in real jobs probably don't understand either, is this... The owners employ the players to work for their franchise/organization. If the players are seen as employees, then they are so out of touch with how employee/employer relationships actually work. Even employees that have unions need to play by the employer's rules to a certain point. These unions help prevent unfair employment practices and gross misconduct by employers, but dress code, not allowing violence/harrassment, and being punctual don't seem to be issues for other unions.
NBA players have whined about the fines levied for showing up late for NBA functions like All-Star Weekend and NBA Cares events. Normal people with jobs are all expected to be on time for work. Dress Code was an issue that players didn't agree with either. Again, most jobs require employees to dress a certain way, including those sports broadcasters. Most have a uniform, others require certain types of dress so their employees look professional when representing their company/agency/organization.
Normal employers in normal occupations take "disciplinary action" if their employees show up late for work, don't dress appropriately, and conduct themselves unprofessionally on the job. Disciplinary action means consequences like docked pay, probationary employment status, and termination. NBA players get fined or get suspended, or banned from playing in a number of games.
The fact that NBA players are union members, contracted professionals, and/or free lance employees shouldn't make a difference. Other professions with unions who work on a contract play by similar rules like teachers, the police, and truckers. Each of these professions are required to dress appropriately, act appropriately, and come to work on time.
I have never heard of an NBA player getting fired. I don't think it's possible, and the thought of it actually being possible is a pretty interesting concept. However, that would probably turn into a strategy used to dump a bad investment, free up cap space, get out of a contract, or force a trade. On second thought, nevermind.
What is my point? Final summation? I think the overall attitude of the players is so out of touch with reality that even if this lockout ends in time to save a partial season, it will take a long time to bring back disillusioned fans who live on Earth and not planet Professional Athlete.