By Tom Myklebust
Photo courtesy of Portland Trailblazers
By press time (Nov 15, 2011), there were still no definite plans on how to bring to an end this labor dispute among the NBA players and owners. November 1st was to be the official start date for the 2011-2012 Season. It came and went. The NBA players are keeping themselves busy with pick-up games, barn-storming tours, and personal workout schedules. A few are even playing in Europe. It has been 13 years since the last delayed NBA season. I thought I’d ask around to see how this is affecting the fans and come up with some ideas of what to do while we wait.
Details of the dispute
I recommend www.nba.com/laborcentral/ as a good resource. The dispute is mostly over money and contracts, like most labor disputes. The ones who will lose the most are the fans, the support staff, and surrounding service industries. Season ticket holders. Die hard fans. How about the 2010-2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks that should have received their Championship Rings (or whatever their owner, Mark Cuban, decided upon) on opening day? Not to mention they were slated to play the Chicago Bulls, a perennial favorite for championship contention.
Another tradition at risk is the Christmas Day Game, top games traditionally getting afternoon and prime time air.
What is the word on the street? A high school parent said “I prefer high school and college games better anyway, so I personally won’t miss it.” Avid Blazer fan Jan Pontious said “I’m so depressed, I can’t believe it.” A proficient quilter, she would set her quilting aside and focus on the games on her big screen TV. This season her quilting will get her undivided attention. If the season resumes? “I love my Blazers; I will forgive their absence and when the season resumes, I’ll watch them.”
One local businesswoman said her family business normally shares season tickets among the family and their best customers, so they will have to re-think their “rewards” plan.
YMCA director and LCC men’s basketball assistant coach, Roosevelt Smith said he enjoys all levels of basketball, including the NBA, but the delay does not impact his family. “There are so many good games out there at the college level, high school, youth and, of course, the Little Dribblers, first and second graders.”
When you attend local basketball games in our region, if you show up early you often have the opportunity to sit courtside, behind the bench where you can hear coaching strategy, or conversations between disgruntled coaches and referees. There are opportunities to see potential stars at the high school or Division I level within a 50-mile radius. I remember when Kevin Love played for Lake Oswego (Oregon) High School, and now he is a professional player. University of Portland and Portland State are eligible for the NCAA finals and host great competitions on their respective campuses.
With no NBA. what is a fan to do? Here are a few ideas:
• Middle and high school winter sports (see your local school’s website for schedules): Basketball, Wrestling, Swimming, Bowling.
• Community college and university sports. Check www.portlandpilots.com, goviks.com, lowercolumbia.edu, etc. They all have home games scheduled throughout the winter.
• If you are missing your trek to the Rose Quarter, don’t overlook the Portland Winterhawks (amateur hockey league) who play at Memorial Coliseum and, occasionally, at the Rose Garden.
• Check with golf courses on winter rates.
• Save the money you would have spent going to games and go instead to spring training in Arizona for your favorite baseball team.
• Check with your local parks & recreation department for winter classes or leagues that might interest you.
• Check into downhill and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing activities.
• Do you remember my article a year ago about table tennis? The Cowlitz Table Tennis Club plays on Sunday Nights at Youth and Family Link gymnasium in Longview.
•Is your NBA-tuned big screen getting dusty? Get a home gaming system and play!
• If all else fails you could start working on that “Honey-do List.”
What do you think of athletes going on strike? Does this impact their public image or the loyalty of their fans? Do most people think celebrity athletes earn enough already? Or should they keep pressure on the system and leverage fans' devotion/demand to help them get more? Share you comment in space below.
Longview resident Tom Myklebust is a landscape consultant and avid sports fan. He is planning to take up ballroom dancing this winter if NBA play doesn’t resume.