It appears that the NBA lockout is far from over, with the players and owners still not able to come to a deal regarding the hard salary cap. The 1999 NBA lockout resulted in a 50-game season, and I believe that this season may be headed toward something very similar. However, if the talks do indeed end in a stalemate — resulting in no NBA season this year — many fans will be forced to turn to other leagues or sports for entertainment.
A quick Internet search for alternative basketball leagues brings up a couple options. The World Basketball Championship acted as a distraction over the summer, especially for University of Connecticut fans who wanted to watch UConn star Jeremy Lamb do his thing, but the event couldn’t last forever.
The “Lockout League” of Impact Basketball in Las Vegas is a good alternative to the NBA right now (who doesn’t want to watch John Wall drop 42 points a game?), and Spurs fans have been watching their man Manu Ginobli, playing for Argentina in his drive to the Olympics. The National Football League and Major League Baseball could also gain new fans due to the lockout.
A season-canceling lockout, if it improves the quality of the game, may not elicit the vitriolic response from fans that many analysts are predicting. After the 2004-05 NHL season was cancelled, journalists and analysts reported that the NHL was losing fans, and that it would take a few seasons for it to recover. This was not the case, however, as one study from the University of Toronto indicated. Though many NHL fans turned to amateur or junior hockey teams, they went right back to the NHL for the subsequent 2005-06 season.
That said, the study suggests that fans only returned to watch the NHL because the majority of them approved of the changes that came from the restructuring of the league. If the NBA wishes to retain its fan base, it should follow the NHL’s suit and work to make the next season more exciting. Then again, fans might just be craving some basketball after having spent the whole winter without it.
Ondo is a member of the class of 2014.