Is The Lockout Good For The NBA?

October 28, 2011

Washington Wizards guard John Wall participated in the D.C.-area Goodman League this summer. During the lockout, many high-profile NBA players have hit the exhibition circuit to ply their trade and grow their fan base.

Back in June, fresh off enduring an NBA-worst 17-65 season and knowing a lockout was looming, my fiancee and I inexplicably became Minnesota Timberwolves season ticket holders.

Well, here we are, within a week of what should’ve been the start of the NBA season, and there’s no end to the lockout in sight. We bemoan the mediocre Minnesota sports scene aplenty here at the Peepshow, but what I wouldn’t give to see the T-Wolves back in action.

So, what did I give? Just a mere $193 to catch 41 games at Target Center this season, should it ever happen. Few people know basketball is my favorite sport. The NBA gets a bad rep with its endless regular season, sluggish defense and me-first players, but I see it as a showcase of the world’s best athletes. Come the postseason I’m amazed players can still bring it given the rigors of an 82-game season. It’s impressive.

I’m getting anxious for the lockout to finally end, but I wonder if it’s really been the worst thing that could happen to the NBA from a marketing standpoint. Look past the obvious negatives — no one likes sniffling millionaires comparing the NBA to slavery — and you’ll see many players who’ve used the lockout to grow their brand internationally:

  • Deron Williams, Tony Parker and Leandro Barbosa head up a list of players who’ve taken temporary work (and a considerable pay cut) to play with pro teams overseas.
  • Stars like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have traveled throughout Asia and Europe to participate in exhibitions and host basketball camps.
  • The aforementioned stars like Bryant and James have done little to quell rumors they would play overseas should the NBA season be canceled, which has drawn daily coverage in China and Italy.

No contract obligations? No problem.

A conspiracy theorist could suggest the NBA lockout is all part of league commissioner David Stern’s goal of growing the game globally. If that’s the case, the players have taken the bait – hook, line and sinker. For every domestic fan the NBA has during the lockout, it has probably gained a dozen more overseas.

The risk of any lockout is disenfranchising the fans and setting the game back several years. Coming off one of the most memorable seasons in recent memory, I couldn’t resist buying season tickets. I knew the lockout was coming. I knew it could even compromise part or all of the season.

So, has this lockout been detrimental to the NBA?

As a first-time season ticket holder, I don’t think so. I bet I’m not alone.