New Chris Grantland: The Players, The Owners, and The Clevelanders

When they poured out Grey Goose on the carpet, the sins and human afflictions of riches seemed so much closer than the twisted morality of unimaginable wealth of the men that provided them with those riches. That, and they play a game which forces a visible display of accessibility, humanity and horrendous insulting humiliating unforgiveable failability.

Is there a worse fate that being willingly led down one wrong path after another in search of the wrong answer? Into believing that casinos, far right wing monstrous political monetary contributions of Dick DeVoss and the triumph over labor laws, that this could somehow translate into desire to meet more than financial goals and manifest desire to lift a community on willing shoulders? Into acceptance of the weight of suspension of disbelief that the same ambition that drives support for the engine that drove an economy into dirt could also pilot a shameless simplicity to win a fucking championship whose meaning has outgrown its utility?

It was never wrong to believe that our morality could withstand a measure of corruption. Otherwise the jerseys that burned brought flames three years late. And perhaps they did. But it was that corruption that led us to believe in the necessity of shortcomings. Acceptance of the waving of that horrible interlocking NY in the faces of the small market that not only deserved so much better, but was so close to where he was born, raised, and learned cruelty.

So do we cheer for the landlords? To grind their tenants into a form more palatable to us?

Do we honestly believe that interests have aligned, if only for this moment, with men of wealth and power? Or that the interests of the NBPA union align or at least resemble in any manner the eroded bargaining position of the American worker?

The real debate the public should care about, if the public cares about anything but the League resuming, competition, has been presented though posturing rather than facts: (1) the owner-façade of a cure to competition issues by the institution of micro-hard caps restricting how much teams can pay players measured against (2) the player-façade that hard line negotiating owners are obstructing their ability to play the game under any circumstances. Neither is true. Neither the immediate gratification of “let us play” nor pandering to the fan desire to see the players punished for the circus of the summer of 2010 that saw fans and owners united in groveling solves any of the underlying problems that face the fan-consumer seeking a likely and ultimately less profitable fairness.

At the same time, there is an undiscovered truth between the two sides negotiating in conference rooms in New York through marathon 12 and 15 hour mediation sessions. The public, the consumer, the NBA “fan” has been denied a voice not only in that room, but in the media reporting what is happening in that room. Even though the media has been and assuredly will be quick to expose misrepresentations and assign blame, underlying everything is that these parties have both exercised control over the dialog.

The public and media dialog has had no consideration for either blame or for a solution which favors anything but the two sides negotiating. One side will win, one side will lose in a negotiation that concerns the interests of these individual parties rather than the interest of betterment of the product, nor a betterment of the communities which bear the ultimate costs – whether though consumer funding or through taxpayer donations in sin tax public funding of privately controlled facilities.

It is the fault of everyone involved that the discourse has never risen to the challenge of these considerations. If called upon, they could enter that mediation room and force the shape of the outcome. Form it into something more than a battle of competitive greed. Those outside of that room, should demand more than a compromise of ideals or a sacrifice to flaws and weaknesses in a voice so loud that its sound forces its way into the mediation room, up across the negotiation table and into the agreement itself. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.