NBA Lockout: Comedy Rather Than Tragedy

NBA commissioner David Stern speaks alongside deputy commissioner Adam Silver during a news conference after a marathon meeting with the Players Association on Thursday. (AP)
NBA commissioner David Stern (r) with deputy commissioner Adam Silver during a news conference after a marathon meeting with the Players Association on Thursday. (AP)

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth.

On a sillier level, among the casualties of this lockout is the integrity of language.

When the NBA players’ union chose to metamorphose into a trade association rather than accept the league’s “final offer,” Commissioner Stern announced the onset of “nuclear winter.”

Fortunately, nobody took him seriously. Otherwise people would have been swallowing everything in their medicine cabinets and jumping off bridges.

This winter will be cold. It will be windy, and much of it will be considered dreary and too long by people not fond of skiing and roasting chestnuts on an open fire. This winter may also be devoid of NBA basketball. But unless some nation’s leader gets crazier than any nation’s leader has been for over half a century, this winter won’t be nuclear.

Less dramatically, Commissioner Stern has referred to the impasse which threatens the NBA season as “a tragedy.”

It isn’t.

That’s not to suggest the absence of NBA basketball won’t have seriously unfortunate consequences. Some people who work for the league or for individual teams have already lost their jobs. Times are hard for some of the restaurants and bars dependent on pre- or post-game business. Purveyors of fluffy mascots have begun dressing their bears and puppies in the colors of various colleges or as Santa’s elves.

But at some point after the last lawyer has calculated his final billable hour in this witless farce, the NBA will return. People will look at each other and shake their heads as if waking from an unhappy dream. Then they will buy tickets or plop down in front of their TV’s to watch the Lakers or the Celtics or the Mavericks or the Knicks. All over this sports-glutted nation they think, “Here we all are again,” which is the message not of tragedy, but of comedy.

There aren’t many laughs in this lockout. But like much comedy, it is about the clumsy attempts of flawed folks to find their way from confusion to some sort of temporarily acceptable accommodation without tripping over the coffee table or stepping on the rake.

It is not “nuclear winter.” It isn’t even tragedy. It’s the bluster and roar of comedy, and in the end – whenever it comes – each protagonist will slap himself in the head at the mutual folly and the rest won’t be silence. It’ll be games.

This program aired on November 16, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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