The prospect of a lockout hangs over this NBA season like Blake Griffin from a rim. But while the NBA at least has another month of the regular season and the entire playoffs left, the NFL's labor dispute has already started in earnest. The players union voted to decertify last week, which essentially puts an end to collective bargaining talks and will create a near-certain lockout that may lead to missed games, depending on its duration. You can expect a similar outcome for the NBA this summer.
Not surprisingly, NBA players are already starting to think about the connections between the NFL situation and their own. Take it from Pistons guard Tracy McGrady, who already went through one lockout more than a decade ago. From Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
The NBA's labor battle is a few months away, but Tracy McGrady is keeping an eye on recent developments in the NFL.
"I'm paying attention, of course," he said. "I don't know all the details about how the players are coming together in the NFL, but like us, we all have to stay strong, stand our ground."
The NBA's players and owners met during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, and the tone was cordial afterwards. However, McGrady believes the public perception about the owners wanting an absolute, hard salary cap with no exceptions is false.
"The proposal that they have out here for us, it's really bull," McGrady said. "Some of the owners, (Lakers owner) Jerry Buss, the big-market owners, they don't want a scale-down."
McGrady continues with a fairly perceptive take on the debates at-hand, but my interest here is in the kinship he feels to the NFL. At a time when labor groups are under attack in virtually all areas of American society, there's strength in numbers, even for millionaires.
The NFL's labor issues may be over by the time the NBA's begin in July, but if not, it's easy to see athletes from both leagues joining together to present a unified front to the public. Their interests are similar, and they can only gain more public support by making that argument together.
They may not need to do regular events with each other. However, even a few comments to the press can help fans of both leagues notice that the players' aims in labor talks are not completely unreasonable.
- Tracy McGrady