NBA owners and NBA Players’ Association executive director Billy Hunter reached a tentative agreement Saturday that eventually ended the class-action lawsuits, reform the NBPA and allow for an abbreviated, 66-game 2011-12 NBA season.
With news the lockout was ended by a handshake agreement over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I took a moment to do some reflecting on what the current game meant to me.
After all, the owners and players spent months arguing over billions while the fans will get saddled with rising ticket prices and $10 beers. Why should anybody care about salary caps, revenue sharing, or luxury taxes while many fans struggle to pay their mortgage?
Now the game is mere weeks away from being played again.
Will the fans immediately forgive the players and flock back like they did after the NFL lockout ended?
Here is what I feel the NBA must do to win back the fans:
The NBA owners need to offer an apology, that comes from the heart, with a written letter to every single season-ticket holder, in order to express a sincere desire to regain the fans’ trust again. After that, NBA teams should offer incentives for fans to attend games with extended giveaways of free towels, t-shirts, etc, to help bring more fans back to the games.
A reduction in ticket prices would also be nice, but that’s unlikely. Instead, teams should offer periodic free or at least inexpensive autograph sessions, which will quickly improve player-fan relations. Fans usually come away from just a two-minute conversation feeling as if they know the players. It’s a false sense of intimacy, but it still goes a long way towards preserving the critical belief that players play for the fans and not for themselves.
Come on guys, just give us more of your time! And double your community-outreach efforts as well.
As a NBA fan, I am always in total awe of what NBA players can do on the basketball court. The slam dunks, the no-look passes, but especially the grace they display of their athletic ability that God has gifted these players.
Starting the NBA season on Christmas day is a nice gift indeed, but what the world really needs now is for the NBA players to open up their grateful hearts and share more of the love they have for the game of basketball with their fans.
How that will look like remains to be seen.
But for now…..
The NBA…It is still FANTASTIC!