Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn

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Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON The NFL and its players have come to terms on a new deal, just in time to avoid doing very little harm or damage to the league's image moving forward.

If only the NBA can be that lucky.

In the coming months, it's inevitable that comparisons will be made between the two leagues and the issues that ultimately led to work stoppages in both sports.

Don't be fooled.

The truth is, the NBA has it worse - a lot worse - than the NFL.

One league is making money (NFL) and was trying to figure out the best way to divvy up the dinero among all the outstretched hands.

And to think, it took them 137 days and they're making money, folks!

The NBA is trying to change the way money is distributed, with the goal being to set up a system that essentially guarantees profits.

"I'm dreaming" by Christopher Williams immediately comes to mind whenever I think of the owners and that pie-in-the-sky goal.

Meanwhile, the players would much rather see things stay as they are, which is understandable when the average NBA player makes north of 5 million a season.

Clearly the deal to be made is somewhere in between, but getting there won't be easy.

For the NBA to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place in the same amount of time it took the NFL, we'd be looking at rejoicing in the season to be on Nov. 14 which means even if they finished at the same rate as the NFL, games would be missed.

And with both sides nowhere close to reaching an agreement, it is setting the stage for what will likely be a very acrimonious, drawn out labor battle that in the end, is sure to do more harm than good to the league.

Forget about the name-calling and all that other nonsense that has gone on and will continue to in varying degrees as both sides draw out the lines for battle. Even as both sides steadily point the finger at the other for holding up a deal getting done, it won't matter.

Fans ultimately could care less about who is the blame.

The only thing fans know for sure now, is that everything they have seen, read and heard thus far indicates that the NBA won't start on time and that the potential for an entire season to be lost, is very real.

For Celtics Nation, this isn't as big a concern here as it is in some other small to mid-size markets.

Winners of 17 NBA titles - more than any NBA team - the Celtics have a strong global fan base.

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While Oklahoma City isn't exactly the most exciting city on the NBA circuit, they have some of the best pro basketball fans that you'll find.

In a market so heavily entrenched in college football, the Thunder's fan base might look radically different - and a hell of a lot smaller - if an entire NBA season passes by without any games.

That's not good for business, for players, but maybe most important, for fans.

Without them, there would be no interest in the NBA, no need for shoe companies to fight over the next big this or that or for those ridiculous (faux) reality TV shows involving ex-spouses, girlfriends, whatever you want to call them, of former and current professional basketball players.

No one is diminishing the fact that getting a new collective bargaining agreement is no easy task for the NBA, even when the money was rolling in for players and owners alike. Yes, we'll talk about Basketball Related Income and guaranteed contract years and mid-level exceptions and salary caps, hard or soft.

It's all nice to know, but fans don't give a damn about that stuff.

When are the games coming back, and when can I get tickets? That's what they truly care about.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the players and owners.

While we all would love to see the NBA as just a game, the league is clearly more than that. It is a multi-billion industry that has made a lot of folks rich over time. But often overlooked at times like this when we talk about the league's growth, is the growth in its fan base.

One of the first owners to speak following the NFL and the league's players union striking an agreement, was Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Among his first comments was to apologize to the fans.

It was a classy move by Kraft to take note that while the deal certainly is one the owners and players feel good about, there was still a loser in all this - the fans - who had to endure months of uncertainty about a game they love to follow.

Fortunately for them, the games will go on and the NFL's image didn't get dinged up too bad in the process.

Will the NBA be that lucky?

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

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C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

WALTHAM -- The national anthem protests by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have had an undeniable ripple effect on professional sports teams across the country. And that includes the Boston Celtics.
 
“We as an organization know what’s going on,” said Marcus Smart. “We read and see and hear about it every day. It’s a sensitive subject for everybody.”
 
While it’s unlikely that Celtics players will do something similar to Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, there’s no question some are figuring out the best way to utilize their platform as athletes to express their views on current social issues.
 
“Us athletes have to take advantage of the stage we’re on,” said Jae Crowder. “Try to make a positive out it. You can’t fix negative problems with negative energy. I don’t want to do anything negative; I want to do something positive, shed light on the situation.”
 
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and a number of professional athletes have tried to have more attention paid to recent killings of African-Americans by police officers where, based on the video footage, it appears excessive or unnecessary force was used.
 
It is a topic that has brought a wide range of responses from many in the sports world, including the dean of NBA coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
 
During the Spurs’ media day this week, he was asked about the Kaepernick’s protests.
 
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich told reporters. “The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it.”
 
As examples of the political pressure he was referring to, Popovich mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to galvanize group, as well as the NBA and other organizations pulling their events out of the state of North Carolina because of its legislation as it relates to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
 
“The important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is keep it in the conversation,” Popovich said.
 
And while there may be differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick or any other athlete should be protesting, the one common thread that seems to bind the Celtics players and the front office is them having the right to speak out not only as professional athletes, but Americans.
 
“The biggest thing is we all really value the freedoms that we have and that we’ve been allotted,” said coach Brad Stevens, who added that he has had individual discussions with players on this subject. “We certainly support an individual’s freedoms. It’s been great to engage in those discussions. It’s been really fun for me how excited our guys are about using their platform.”
 
And that more than anything else is why Crowder feels the Celtics have to have a united front as far as the message they present to the masses.
 
“If we want change we have to do it together,” Crowder said. “I feel like those guys (other athletes) used their platforms well. I think more athletes should do the same. You can’t do it with any hatred; you can’t do it with any negative. You have to do it with positive energy.”