One of the weirder aspects of the nascent NBA lockout has been the league's restrictions on its player employees. While no one would expect players to hang out at team facilities during a lockout, the league has instituted a policy that essentially pretends they don't exist. It's all a bit creepy and immature, especially given the fact that team employees and players can grow bonds throughout many years of working together.
Just ask Manu Ginobili(notes), who has become friends with Spurs trainer Will Sevening over the course of many, many training sessions for one of the most oft-injured players in the league. Except, because of lockout rules, Ginobili couldn't even wish his friend a happy birthday last weekend like a normal person. Instead, he had to tweet it. From Tim Griffin for Spurs Nation:
The two friends can't converse as normal over the summer. No summer cookouts among their families. Not even a birthday e-mail. For all we know, the NBA's thought police might be monitoring Sevening's ability to read tweets from Spurs players.
So we here at Spurs Nation are here to break that blockade.
Here is Ginobili's tweet to Sevening: "I wish I could talk to my friend and Spurs trainer Will and wish him a happy birthday…"
We're more than happy to circumvent the NBA's rules during this illogical lockout for all sides — particularly the fans in Spurs Nation.
It is very nice of Griffin to keep friendships together during a lockout, especially since Sevening could feasibly be fined for acknowledging any words from Ginobili. It's enough to make you wonder if anyone will try to communicate by carrier pigeon after a few months. I bet Adam Silver is training a group of intercepting hawks right this moment in preparation.
It's certainly the NBA's prerogative to restrict communication between its employees and players, but it's also extremely immature and generally disregards the humanity of the players who sell tickets. All these decisions underscore the NBA's standard operating procedure of the lockout: that the players aren't really owed anything.
Negotiations are tough, especially when two sides are as far apart as the owners and players are now. But there should still be a basic level of human decency in these interactions. It's not a matter of getting a deal done -- it's about treating other human beings like they have their own desires and emotions.