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Sixers, NBA cannot afford a lockout: Local fan’s view
The NBA Finals were universally hailed as one of the best in recent memory, as was the entire season as a whole. But while fans from Dallas to Philadelphia hail the world-champion Mavericks, and decry the Miami Heat and LeBron James(notes) one last time, the NBA is trying to avoid giving all the recent momentum back in a flash.
With a lockout looming on June 30, basketball could be on the verge of a long and costly shutdown- one which football fans can relate to all too well. However, the hope is that the NBA will take stock of its great success this season, and not throw it all away by losing an entire year.
Every team throughout the league would be in limbo, and would face a new financial era when a deal does get made. Here in Philadelphia, this comes as a costly time for the 76ers, since the team may be up for sale shortly. In addition, trade rumors are circling around Andre Iguodala(notes), which could land us a big scorer like Golden State's Monte Ellis, or an All-Star like the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman.
To get remotely close to the likes of the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, the 76ers have to make some big moves. But they can't do so if there's a lockout, and if an entire season or half-season is lost, it leaves less time for their young core to come together.
In addition, the timing of a lockout is even worse now that the team could be for sale. The potential buyers could be scared off by a work stoppage and not find it worth the risk, or have to adapt to a brand new CBA right off the bat. But if these possible investors want to purchase the 76ers and start turning them around, they should hopefully be able to start as soon as possible, since new blood and big moves will be needed.
The Sixers gained some momentum in the past season, by making the playoffs and getting back to .500. However, losing significant time next time would leave the team back at square one- although it would at least be in the same boat with everyone else. But some clubs have more dire straits than others to worry about.
For the Celtics, Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, a lost year would cost their aging stars another season that they can't afford to lose. For the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, their young superstars would lose another year of development, as they try to evolve into champions. And for the Heat, the longer it is off the court, the longer its recent collapse will fester, as James might not get a shot at redemption until 2013.
And for the NBA as a whole, it will be the biggest loser of all, especially commissioner David Stern. He already has the abbreviated 1998-99 season on his resume, and now having a longer lockout would be another black mark- especially after a year like this. At the least, the even uglier NFL shutdown could overshadow basketball's labor problems, but the NBA would find it harder to recover from an extended break.
Here in Philadelphia, the Sixers absence might not be felt that much, thanks to our city's other winners. But that makes it even more important that the 76ers don't get locked out, so that they can continue their climb back up to relevance. Yet Philadelphia's need to start next year on time, and the hope that it has the chance to build on the 2010-11 season, is a familiar prayer throughout the NBA in this sadly fraught offseason.
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