NBA could miss pivotal moment with a lockout

Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern announces that a lockout will go ahead as NBA labor negotiations break down at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City.

Jeremy Hobson: Today the full bargaining committees will return to the table as negotiations continue
to end the lockout in professional basketball. NBA Players and owners have been fighting over how much money each side should get in a new labor deal. If they can't agree, then no NBA games.

Let's get an update now from Henry Abbott of ESPN.com, who writes the TrueHoop Blog. Good morning.

Henry Abbott: Good morning.

Hobson: Well as a casual observer of the NBA lockout, I have to say, I sort of think, 'Ah, they'll come together with some agreement by the time the season is supposed to start.' Is that a wrong assumption?

Abbott: That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. There was sort of a clash of the titans shaping up in the rhetoric, where the league was talking about a total reboot of how they share revenue with the players. Now that it's getting down to the final few weeks before when they'd have to make a deal for the season to start, the rhetoric has gone away entirely and the behind-the-scenes noises are that things are going very well now.

Hobson: What happens if you and I are both wrong and there is a lockout, and some games are missed?

Abbott: Oh, it could definitely happen. And no, it's not good. The NBA has an opportunity right now to sort of move past baseball as America's second sport. It's incredibly popular with young people playing in playgrounds all over the world, and there's a chance to become the most popular American sport in China, and to just move very solidly forward back to where the league was in the Jordan years. A lockout, a missed season would be a step back in that process.

Hobson: And what are the long-term effects of a lockout?

Abbott: Well, the NBA has a particular moment right now where they have what they've always wanted, which is some very attractive young stars like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. It seems like based on TV ratings, America's coming around to really getting to like those players. When you lock them out, you demonize them a bit. The whole idea is to sort of show through the media that these players are spoiled and shouldn't be respected as much, and as soon as they back in business, they want those players to be loved again. So it's a little bit of a marketing problem to have them locked out.

Hobson: Henry Abbott is a senior writer with ESPN.com. He writes the TrueHoop blog. Henry, thanks so much for talking with us.

Abbott: Thank you so much for having me.

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