By Rich Levine
Thursday afternoon in (where else?) Nantasket Beach, the NFLs head honchos huddled up to resolve a lockout that most of us have ignored since April.
Thursday night in (where else?) Newark, the NBA took the stage for one last show, before sleeking off into their own self-imposed slice of hell.
Its pro sports in 2011 . . . can you feel it?!
Yeah, it feels like burning.
Of course, the situations arent identical. In the NFL, the moneys there the two sides just cant agree on how to ration it. Meanwhile, the NBAs a total mess. Owners are actually losing money and have no problem opening their books if youd like some proof. The NBA has fundamental issues that can only be resolved by serious compromise, legitimate overhaul and Ron Artest changing his name to Metta World Peace. Sadly, only one of those is an immediate possibility.
Obviously, things can change. Bridges can be mended. Seasons can be saved. Hey, take a look at NFL! Theyre not completely out of the woods, but (unless the lawyers creep in and ruin it all) it sure feels like theyre getting close. There was a time when we wondered if it would ever come. Now, the ends in sight.
But much like Nantasket isnt Newark, the NFL isnt the NBA. Basketballs in trouble, and we have to consider the strong possibility that next season wont start on time. That Thursday night marked the last moment of real Celtics excitement until . . . who the hell knows?
But heres what we do know:
Beginning on July 1, the NBA will cease to exist. We cant talk about next year because we wont know when it starts, how many games theyll play or who will even be on the team. Instead, all we can do is press pause, sit back and watch the league give itself mouth to mouth.
Like the NFL now, the NBA will be the broken window on the landscape of sports. Well know its there, that its being worked on, and that eventually it will be fixed, but in the meantime, what are we going to do? The Celtics have six players under contract, and one of thems Avery Bradley. How can you get excited over a team that doesnt exist?
Well ask those questions, and eventually . . . well lose a little interest.
It happened with the NFL, and it will happen here. At some point you just grow immune to the drama, or you become so affected that you force yourself to tune it out. But either way, that makes it harder to care.
For instance, imagine you slip a patch of ice and break your arm. It kills, and as you're sitting in the emergency room the doctor comes and starts explaining to you, in detail, what happened. You find it interesting, because, hey, you want to know what's wrong. This is something you care about. Only this guy won't stop talking. After about an hour of explaining what's wrong, he goes into extreme detail on how he plans to go about fixing it. On and on. Very thorough. All very pertinent information. But you're in pain. You want out of your misery.
At some point, he needs to just shut up and fix it.
We feel that now about football, and no doubt we will about basketball.
But in both cases, I guarantee well have short memories.
As much as Ive hated the NFL over these past few months, Ill get over it five minutes into the first preseason game. And if theres no preseason, then I wont even need five minutes. Youre ready to play? Welcome back!
The NBA might have a little more trouble in the PR department if the season starts late, but theres no question that the first time LeBron and Wade take the court next season, whether thats in October or February, people will watch. When the playoffs start the NBA will reemerge.
Or maybe it wont be that easy, but it also wont be that hard.
When the time comes, each league will win us back.
It's like the same part of our brain that lets us eventually detach from the drama of the negotiations is the same one that helps us forget that the negotiations ever happened.