Owners decided to lockout the league's players this week, kicking off a second lockout in professional sports, joining the NFL.
While picking between egotistical billionaires and spoiled millionaires is as fun as choosing which tax company to prepare your taxes each year, those who desire an NBA team must side with the billionaires in this case.
It's time, for now, to put the LeBron James jersey in the closet and pull for the owners to win this battle for several reasons.
• NBA revenue sharing is putrid and only the big market teams benefit. Following a 19-63 season in 2010, the Los Angeles Clippers turned around a $10 million profit, according to Forbe's magazine. The New York Knicks have been horrible until this past season, but they often turn an eight-figure profit. Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers struggled to make a profit the year they made the NBA Finals in 2000 and the San Antonio Spurs, who have won four titles since 1999, isn't exactly a money-maker. Despite having the second best record in basketball, the Spurs will lose money this year. For a small-market team like Kansas City, a strong model of revenue sharing amongst the franchises is significantly important. If the same system remains in place, it will be more difficult for the NBA to do well in Kansas City.
• A hard cap is absolutely needed in the NBA. The current soft-cap system allows teams to "get by" the system and allows teams like the Miami Heat to build a super-power team. The salary cap in the NFL gives each franchise – even the Detroit Lions – hope entering the season. Without a hard-cap, forget the NBA in Kansas City. The 2011 NBA champs from Dallas spent $92 million this season, while the Sacramento Kings spent $45 million. For years, fans of the Kansas City Royals have complained about big-market teams spending. The current NBA would almost be like baseball in this area.
• The NBA is expected to lose $300 million this season and over two-thirds of the teams are expected to lose money. In order to help flip that around, the owners should receive more than 43 percent of the gross revenue generated by the league.
• On the same note, NBA players made $2.1 billion this past season. While players like LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki deserve their millions, Yao Ming earned $17.7 million this season while playing just 90 minutes throughout the season. For those counting at home, that's about two-and-a-half games worth of time. Ming is an underrated player who's unfairly labeled a bust, but a system is not working if a player can earn that much while missing that much time. No sport has more absurd contracts in America than the NBA – and considering the New York Yankees are in MLB – that's saying something. Again, to compare it to the Royals. The franchise was stuck paying Gil Meche over $12 million last season despite missing most of the year. In an NBA small market like Kansas City would be, Ming's injury would be devastating in more ways than one.
It's not fun rooting for rich guys in suits who have private planes, several homes and live a life of luxury.
However, this is not like the NFL lockout where the league is doing awesome financially in most cities and is setting records for revenue generated. That's a pure power and revenue grab by that league's owners.
In the NBA, a fundamental change is needed in its economics.
For an NBA team to thrive in Kansas City, the owners must win in the battle for that fundamental change.