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Kevin Durant Stays Busy During the Lockout

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Coming up with a list of people who have lost out because of the NBA lockout is easy. As of last night (when the Thunder were supposed to open the season versus the Los Angeles Lakers), the players are missing out on paychecks. The owners are losing out on revenues. Businesses surrounding the team arenas are missing the foot traffic brought about by home games. Fans are not getting the world class entertainment they crave. Most importantly, rank and file employees of the teams are losing their menial-wage jobs while the billionaires argue with their millionaire employees over how much money each side is entitled to receive.

Only one man has taken the debacle and thrived on the stalemate: Kevin Durant.

For a man whose life time earnings are probably going to be reduced by about 15% as a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will come from this lockout, Durant has still managed to make the most of the situation. While the owners have fertilized the situation with financial statements bordering on fradulent and the Player’s Association pretended that a 20% cut in their pay was akin to slavery, the Thunder star has stayed above the fray.

Early in the Summer, he joined in a virtual nationwide street ball tour, dominating playground basketball leagues from L.A., to D.C., to NY. Then he started doing exhibition games with other NBA players–normally for charity–where he outplayed LeBron James. (And James’ effort generally has a reverse correlation to the stakes involved, so he was at his best.) All the goodwill generated from KD playing for free earned him enough favors to organize what will be the closest the 405 ever comes to hosting an All Star game.

Now basketball with nothing at stake is apparently starting to bore him. Monday night on Twitter, Durant made what everyone expected to be a joke about wanting to join a flag football league. Everyone either laughed at, or ignored, the plea except for a Sigma Nu member at OSU who jokingly offered the NBA superstar a roster spot at his team’s intramural game.

A few hours later, Durant pulled his minivan into the parking lot of the Snake House in Stillwater.

The rest can be seen in the embedded YouTube clip above, but in summary, it was only a step above a real version of this promotional photo he did for Nike:

Kevin Durant wins at Lockout.

With the boredom kicking in, we came up with a few other things Durant could do to occupy his time until the NBA powers-that-be come to their senses.

Go Door-to-Door in Oklahoma City and sign one thing at every house

I imagine this would turn into a pied piper sort of situation where the first kid shooting baskets on the driveway who sees him walk up to the door follows him to the next house. By the time KD gets a couple of streets down, he has enough children following him that it blocks off May Avenue. At minimum, the publicity stunt raises his Q-score. Also very likely, it makes a bunch of people who aren’t in the cockiest fraternity at OSU happy.

Another NBA Exhibition Coming to OKC

Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen believes that income derived from basketball activities has very little relation to whether players are involved.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Exhibition games organized by NBA basketball players have become a trend as a result of the NBA lockout. With the benefit normally given to charity, the games have been an oasis of basketball during a period where little is known about when the league will again play games. Now, the Association’s owners are getting in on the action.

With Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett and NBA commissioner David Stern to his side, Thunder owner Clay Bennett announced an owner-organized charity game. The game, which will be held at Chesapeake Energy Arena, is scheduled for November 3rd.

Just last week, a game held in OKC that was organized by former Thunder player Desmond Mason and current Thunder star Kevin Durant sold out the Cox Convention Center mere moments after tickets became available. The game featured league superstars including Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and also featured other Thunder players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

In response, the owner-led game intends to bring a star-laden line up that will be centered around Bennett. In addition, other ownership heavy weights will join him. Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks, Paul Allen of the Trail Blazers, and the Cavaliers’ Dan Gilbert will join in the festivities.

“I can’t wait,” Cuban said while wearing a “Don’t Let Us Overpay” t-shirt. “Most fans feel sorry for the players because they aren’t allowed to play, but what about us owners? I haven’t been able to yell at a referee since the Finals.”

When asked if officials would be involved in the event that will not, due to collective bargaining difficulties, include any players or basketball activities, Cuban was quick to respond. “Of course. They aren’t being locked out.”

At Durant’s exhbition, action involved world-class scoring, high flying dunks, and precision passing. What will be featured during the owner exhibition is less clear.

In addition to the promise of Cuban’s antics, Bennett teased that Dan Gilbert may craft a letter while all eyes watch. “You can speculate about what font he will use.” As for the content? “It will demonstrate our position that the players receive too much money and credit for the success of the league.”

Whether the game will be as entertaining as the player-involved version is still up for debate, but it is already known to be just as successful financially. Just seconds after tickets were made available, every ticket was purchased by an Human Relations employee at Chesapeake Energy.

Profits from the game will be donated to NBA Charities, an organization that assists homeless professional sports owners who cannot pay their depreciation and amortization bills.

Good Things About the Lockout

Yesterday, a federal labor mediator met with NBA owners and NBA Players Association for over sixteen hours. It may or may not have looked something like this in there.

They are meeting again today and unless both groups emerge from this meeting to participate in a joint press conference announcing an agreement that will allow the season to start in about a month, it will be time to panic. As it stands, with Commissioner David Stern “cancelling” the first two weeks, little has been lost. If a deal is reached soon, an alternate schedule can be created saving the games that were already axed, even if the lack of days off kills Tim Duncan. However, if the mediator cannot get to two sides to compromise, compromise goes off the table.

Months ago, the owners filed a pre-emptive lawsuit to prevent the Players Union from decertifying. To avoid a business law lesson, let’s just say that as much as the owners want to crush the union, they are far more afraid of the Union disappearing completely. That lawsuit goes before a judge on November 3rd. Should it get to that point, neither side will back off until they get that decision. Whoever wins the lawsuit will be ready for a blowout victory in the labor negotiations. If the players can decertify, they can pretty much go back to demanding no changes in the current system, and if they can’t, the owners pretty much continue telling the players to suck it.

Of course, neither side is about to just roll over and take that big loss, so this season will be washed away forever as the side without leverage refuses to admit defeat. If that happens, there will be some good things to come from it:


Barons Hockey Has No Competition

As someone who hasn’t given a crap about hockey since I was able to play the Sega game where I could make Little Wayne’s head bleed, I was less than heart broken when the Blazers folded. Then, I was less than enthused when another team from a supposedly superior league took their place. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who think differently than me (there are a couple of people like that) that are excited at the possibility of the new local minor league hockey team siphoning away some of the Thunder’s fanbase. At minimum, it should give the Barons more hope at long-term success.

There is definitely some irony in the fact that the sport of hockey is set to benefit most from the NBA’s self-destructive path. Mainly because the self-destructive path was mapped out by the NHL’s assinine year-long player lockout that cancelled an entire season. In the end, the owners annihilated that player’s union and the league, while now only being viewable on the Outdoor Life Network, is a richer investment. This has given basketball owners the resolve to be ruthless in their negotiations.

Of course, hockey is, was, and has always been a niche sport. The people who like hockey, love hockey. It’s practically a cult religion. So, when the NHL went back to lacing them up, their fanbase was basically still in tact. Sure, they lost some casual fans (enough to destroy their relationship with network television), but not enough that it made a major impact.

That is not how the NBA works. Most of their revenue comes from television  which thrives on the casual fans who aren’t going to the arena to watch a game tuning in. Thanks to an influx of great player talent over the past decade, ratings have been great and the next contract negotiation should improve the league’s bottom line significantly. You know, if they don’t go and make themselves irrelevant.

Liberal Governor Mary Fallin

During one of the times Friedrich Nietzsche was not discussing the state of God, he blurted something that accurately describes the current state of the Republican Party. “In times of peace, the war-like man turns upon himself.”

According to the explicit, global hermetical blog run by Mike McCarville, a GOP committee-woman has begun an email campaign attacking Governor Mary Fallin. The charge: Fallin is too liberal.

The bee that got into Bunny’s bonnet is that Governor Fallin applied for $60 million of federal grant money that would be earmarked for early childhood education. In Chambers’ own words, the money “will result in more pre-school-age children—including infants and toddlers—being enrolled in early childhood education programs.”

Perhaps I’m naive, but that sounds like a good thing. Bunny’s intention was for it to sound scandalous. Chambers feels strongly that “Conservative Governor Frank Keating” would never have kowtowed to the liberal agenda of preparing small children for a life of literacy and education. She asks bluntly:

Should Oklahoma go along with President Obama in his ‘support for a seamless and comprehensive set of services and support for children, from birth through age 5’?

Based on the letter that was sent out to attack their fellow Republican, Chambers opposition boils down to this final conclusion: “Ask her to cut our taxes instead, so we can keep our own money and raise our own children.” Of course, getting a grant means the services are paid for without our own money, so that seems like a strange reason to try to block kids getting a jump start on learning.

There is a better reason for Chambers to suggest that Fallin is being too much of a liberal, though. In a time when Republicans control every aspect of the state’s governance, this wasn’t a Republican idea.

And, yet Gov. Fallin recently said she is committed to seeing that Oklahoma continues to have a strong role in programs that have already been established for early childhood education. It wasn’t our conservative Governor Keating who established those programs.

Any guess at who might have been responsible? Yeah, it was Brad Henry. So, since he wasn’t a “conservative” (here used with the political definition of “belonging to the Republican party”) governor, anything he did has to be undone. If it means back tracking on improvements in education to fight the ghost of Democrats past, so be it. Not doing so is being a traitor to the conservative cause.

So, while Fallin is actually–and it pains me to point this out–going about doing what is best for the state, her fellow party members are attacking her for not being partisan enough. Thankfully, Bunny Chambers is around to keep the bigger picture in perspective.

How to survive the NBA lockout

There have been dire warnings about this outcome for a couple of years now, but the breakdown in collective bargaining discussions between the NBA and the Player’s Union (NBPA) still struck me like Ron Artest did those fans in Detroit. One always expects that rational thought will prevail when billions of dollars are at stake (as finally happened with the NFL just a few months ago), yet that has not been the case in these labor discussions.

Basically, the sides are close enough on all the major issues that a deal could be finished at anytime if they can determine how to split Basketball Related Income or BRI. Of course, that’s like saying that the Israeli Conflict could be solved if they could come to a consensus on religion. The players are willing to accept a 10% cut in pay while owners are demanding 20%, but supposedly floated the idea of 15%. Of course, it’s easy to be magnanimous when you’re playing with house money as the owners are at this point. Whatever happens, they win.

Regardless, the argument goes on. Stern says that if an agreement is not reached by Monday, he will begin cancelling regular season games. Being that there are no more meetings scheduled before that time, and that Friday/Saturday is Yom Kippur, there is very little chance of avoiding that fate. After the jump, there are some ideas for how to pass the time without NBA basketball to keep us entertained.