Idle arena a snapshot of the NBA’s mess
SACRAMENTO, California—Power Balance Pavilion, among the oldest in the NBA and known in eras past as Arco Arena, looks more beat up than ever.
As twilight shrouds the building, it looms like a medieval castle over trees losing their foliage as fall marches on.
Members of its monarchy—the Sacramento Kings—are idled from battle by a standoff among royalty of a bigger realm.
It was in its purple-laced court, familiar to NBA fans worldwide, where the Kings scored many conquests. In the year of Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic—they would have lorded it over the 2002 NBA championships were it not for a close defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in a classic seventh game of the Western Conference finals.
If the memory of its past is torture, look at the future ahead for the Sacramento landmark. With the pro basketball season on the verge of doom, Sacramento fans may never see an NBA game there again.
The Kings almost left town for Anaheim and Disneyland last spring for lack of a new home.
Since the 2011-12 NBA season is in jeopardy because of the prolonged NBA players’ lockout, fan support and the community-wide momentum to build a new Kings arena could go to pot. Worse, the labor impasse could hasten its present household to pack for Southern California.
With regular season games falling from the NBA calendar faster than the leaves of autumn, the Kings’ plight is shared by small-market NBA teams that are not only losing their fan base but much needed cash flows as well.
And with another major snag stalling talks to end the 142-day-old lockout, NBA cities, big and small can kiss more revenues goodbye.
In the meantime, NBA fans spread in the Four Winds could ditch the league altogether this season. Already, a poll says 76 percent of American fans don’t really give a damn if there are hard court games this year.
Followers in the Philippines and other basketball-crazed countries are probably feeling the same.
Is their patience slowly flatlining, too?
Well, here’s another cause for disgust. The league has canceled more games through Dec. 15 while the players and the NBA owners’ haggling over money reached a dangerous stage. Last Monday, the players filed a disclaimer of interest that effectively dissolved their union.
The following day, the first sign of what NBA commissioner David Stern calls the league’s “nuclear winter” arrived when superstars Carmelo Anthony, recent Manila visitor Kevin Durant and other players went to federal court. They have filed anti-trust lawsuits against the NBA.
The gist of the players’ lawsuits said the NBA violated antitrust laws by its “boycott” of players and by attempting to force them to take huge reductions in salary. Named as defendants in the class-action suit filed on behalf of the NBA’s players were the 30 NBA teams.
When bargaining stopped last week, the owners were adamant in insisting that the players take a 51-percent cut of the league’s basketball-related income, or else.
So do the billionaire NBA owners give a hoot about the millionaire-players’ latest move?
Listen to Stern who warned of the league’s nuclear winter.
“The players have been threatening those lawsuits since February,” he said in New York.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.