To the surprise of nobody, the National Basketball Association celebrated the start of summer Thursday, July 1 by locking out the players and embarking upon what could be its nuclear winter. As if to signify the long road ahead, the NBA.com Web site — usually a hyperactively garish mix of images and videos — turned into something straight out of 1995 as of 12:01 a.m. July 1, when the home page featured simply the league’s official release announcing the lockout on one side of the page and a WNBA story on the other.
The Web site has since rejoined this century, albeit with a more subdued design than usual, but the rhetoric hasn’t subsided. When the New York Times reported Tuesday, July 5 that the NBA’s claims its owners are hemorrhaging money — almost $400 million combined annually — were suspect at best, the league wasted little time in whipping up an official reply picking apart the story and posting the response on its website.
While the 2011-12 NBA season appears endangered at best and doomed at worst, ticket brokers aren’t too concerned yet, even if they have prepared for the possibility there will be no professional basketball for the next 18 months.
“We don’t put all of our eggs in one basket,” Gary Lee, the director of marketing for Los Angeles-based VIP Tickets, told TicketNews.com. “We’re ready, the preparations have been made to make sure this isn’t a nightmare situation.”
Lee said even in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers are having a brutal season on and off the field, it is too early for fans to express anxiety over the plight of the NBA. In fact, whether it is because of the natural shift in seasons or hard feelings left over from the Lakers‘ shockingly early departure from the playoffs (the Lakers were swept by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals), fans in Tinseltown aren’t even pondering the Lakers.
“On the site I run a Lakers fan site and I can get a pretty good taste of what the fans [are feeling],” Lee said. “July, trust me, it’s dead. Nobody talks about anything. Even with all the Ron Artest antics [he is changing his name to Metta World Peace], nobody really cares. Right now, in Los Angeles, it’s July, people want to be on the beach. In August, people want to be on the beach.”
Lee believes fans will start to get antsy once the fall begins and there’s no thaw in the negotiations, or lack thereof (no talks between the sides have been scheduled since the lockout began).
“They’re far apart, from what I see — I think they’re worse than in ’98 [when the owners’ lockout nearly caused the cancellation of the 1998-99 season] so we’ll see how it goes,” Lee said. “Once September rolls around and people start to get that itch to watch the NBA again, that’s when the voices will get a little louder about what the hell is going on with the lockout.”