The headline says it all.
Be mad. Be frustrated. Be upset. Be sad. Be disappointed.
That is what I feel. I try to be objective in writing about the Magic. But I am an NBA fan and a Magic fan as much as anything. That is why I do this. I thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoy all the frustration, all the glory. Everything. The Magic are interesting because they never make things easy.
There was a seven-hour meeting Monday afternoon bleeding into Sunday night. It was the last great hope to save the entire 82-game regular season. It might have been far-fetched to think the owners and players could bridge a gap between 52 and 47 percent. Very far-fetched considering how bitter the negotiations have been during the long summer.
We knew it was going to get to this point when David Stern announced that Monday would be the deadline to save the 82-game season. The two sides sensed the urgency and hastily scheduled a meeting for Sunday night. Monday held hope.
Maybe progress was made. Maybe. The rhetoric was depressing with the news that games — and more importantly paychecks — would be lost. The next meeting will likely tell us whether there is hope of saving the rest of the season or if we can bunker down for the rest of winter.
One thing we know, it can only get worse with each passing day. The clock is ticking and time is working against the NBA and the 2011-12 season. If the owners are truly losing money, they would be willing to lose games. The players are not receiving paychecks and so they are the ones in true desparation now.
Derek Fisher has long said that he and the union are willing to wait it out to protect the rights they have earned and the benefits their predecessors fought for. But Fisher has to really ask himself and his constituents how long they are willing to wait. The owners will take the loss in revenue out of whatever offer comes next in bargaining. Stern has threatened as much already.
The decertification option is back on the table. Surely the agents will push for that again with progress halted. The case at the NLRB is still pending and the government may actually step in and enjoin the owners from locking out the players by filing a complaint that the owners committed an unfair labor practice. Whenever they get around to that, it might be the last best hope for saving the 2011-12 season.
The All-Star Game, the London Games, everything in 2011-12 is in jeopardy. As Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball poignantly pointed out: “The Dwight countdown goes from 82 to 75.” There is a very real (and depressing) possibility that Howard has already played his last game in a Magic uniform, a disappointing loss to his hometown Hawks.
In this run of cancellations — Stern said they will go in two-week increments for the time being — the Magic lost seven games. The season opener at Amway Center against Charlotte on Nov. 2 is gone. So is the game the next night in Miami. An additional road game against Washington and home games against Philadelphia, Utah, Washington and Atlanta are all wiped off the schedule.
That is right, five home games to just two road games are gone off the schedule. Amway Center will be much quieter. And what looked like a favorable early season schedule — doesn’t that look like a 5-2 start? — are wiped out. It makes the work much harder should 2012 start at some point.
That is the nuts and bolts of it. Every team is looking at a much more difficult road as uncertainty sets in.
Nobody knows when the next meeting will be. Nobody knows if there is a way to cut down the divide quickly. All that we know is that there will not be games. The fans will lose out on the NBA, something that had been at the height of its popularity since the Michael Jordan era ended.
It is the owners holding the players hostage. But the players are responsible for us mising games too. There are no winners in this scenario right now.
But we, the basketball fans and supporters, are the biggest losers. We are powerless in this whole thing. And all we can do is wait… and hope.
Photos via DayLife.com.