OK NBA, Now What?
Hopefully you enjoyed The Finals because it could be the last we see of the NBA for quite some time. Much like its gridiron counterpart the NBA is hip deep in labor strife and a lockout will most surely take place once the current CBA expires on June 30.
The fact that the NBA cancelled the Summer League games and did not schedule any overseas preseason games means that not only will there be a work stoppage but it will be a lengthy one. This of course is a real problem. Despite fighting negative perceptions for years the NBA enjoyed a stellar year with increases in attendance and TV ratings. Dallas and Miami provided a dramatic championship series that morphed into a good-versus-evil battle. Both teams also proved you don't need to be a one seed to reach The Finals. Oklahoma City and Memphis proved that the non-traditional smaller market teams can be successful as well.
But it appears the NBA will not be able to capitalize on this surge. A long, drawn-out work stoppage will grind the gears of fans everywhere. You can see the patience wearing thin among football fans. It's getting down to crunch time in the NFL where if decisions aren't made soon we'll likely see the start of the regular season pushed back. The NFL can survive it, but can the NBA survive another shortened season? Sure, things are different now than in 1998. With Michael Jordan's second retirement in '98 the NBA lacked a true superstar as well as decreased interest in the sport.
That's no longer the case but will the fans come back for Kobe, LeBron and Dirk? It took the NBA a decade to rebuild from the last work stoppage. Despite the NBA's recent renaissance it make take just as long to bring back fans already bitter over one league work stoppage.