Yeah, the title of this post is a hopelessly outdated reference. Blame my mom for burning that horrible Judy Collins song into my consciousness at a young age. That kind of stuff sticks with you.
Point is, it feels like scab time. Yeah, American pro sports hasn’t seen replacement players since 1987, when the NFL played weeks 4-6 with every reject they could find from ruins of the USFL and elsewhere. Back then, 15% of the NFL guys crossed the picket line, basically causing the union to buckle to the owners’ demands. Best of all though, the players were gone long enough for fans and writers to coin alternate names for these impostor squads, so the football fans of the world were treated to gems like the San Francisco Phoney Niners, the New Orleans Saint Elsewheres and the Washington Scab-Skins.
This concept can work with the 2011 NBA too, on every level.
Personally, I’m feeling the Los Angeles Fakers, the Philadelphia 86’d ers or the Atlanta FauxHawks, in a big way. If the players want to continue to act insulted by the owners proposal of a 50-50 revenue split, just imagine how they’ll feel in January when they are at home watching Mateen Cleaves and the Celtics battle Adam Morrison’s Lakers on ABC’s Sunday afternoon showcase. Silly, but not as crazy as you think. Sure, the ratings disappear with the star players, but it’s hard to imagine the teams not being more profitable if they operate on a fraction of the previous payroll. Isn’t that what this is all about for ownership? No stars to pay means more money in the pockets of the teams. Yeah, I’m taking the simplistic view here, but what else do you expect from someone who feels like they could go the rest of their lives with ever hearing another word about Billy Hunter or Derek Fisher or BRI (basketball related income) or plantations or any of this godforsaken nonsense. Of course, this scenario aslo relies on frustrated, scared and/or broke players crossing the picket lines, and I’d consider that a pretty safe bet to happen if the owners really tried to pull this off.
To borrow a phrase, just fucking do it. Snap the players back into reality while such a thing is still possible. If the union won’t budge off 53%, bring in some guys who will be happy just being there. Of all the sports in the world, Basketball has a deeper talent pool than most and plenty of players who would jump at the chance. All you’d need then is a handful of stars to cross the line. Put those two together and there really would be less difference in quality of play than you think. The talent disparity between the best americans playing overseas and the bottom third of the current NBA rosters is razor thin, something that is readily apparent to anyone who has ever watched summer league games where 90% of the guys on the court look indistinguishable from each other. Do it now, and make a real statement.
What else is left to talk about if the two sides are millions of dollars apart and unwilling to budge? And with that said, what percentage of the basketball fan base actually sides with the players here? I’d be shocked if were more than 20.
So these are the choices we’re left with. Strike a deal in the very near future, or risk losing half or all of the season. Me, I’d go for option three. Send the brats home and bring in a labor pool that will appreciate the opportunity, however brief it might be. If you really wanna crack the union, this is the best way to do it.
So fuck it, send in the clowns already. Better that than nothing.