Now that the NBA Finals confetti is starting to settle, it is time to acknowledge the elephant in the room: is there going to be basketball next season? Charles Barkley doesn’t think so.
Howard Eskin and Ike Reese of Philadelphia’s WIP radio station asked Barkley for his take on the possible upcoming NBA lockout and his take was not pretty.
“It’s going to get ugly. I feel bad because we are coming off a great year for the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks are a feel good story,” said Barkley. “If you can’t be happy for Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki there is something wrong with you and that ain’t got nothing to do with hating on the Heat. You should be happy for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, but in both of these sports and it’s just my opinion now. These owners are batting down the hatches and they are going for it. I’m going to be honest with you––I would be surprised if we played basketball next year.”
The respected analyst did point out that he has no inside track to exclusive information.
“I don’t have no inside info. I think what’s going to happen is once we start missing games and it starts creeping. I think they are going to say ‘You know what let’s don’t play this year.’ That’s just my personal opinion because I think last time  it was so negative when we played 40-50 games. I think the reaction was so negative. Some people said the Spurs really didn’t win a championship that year because it didn’t count. I think once the NBA get locked out and everything gets started. I’m hoping we don’t miss any games. I got great respect for David Stern. I think he is the best commissioner in sports. I truly believe these owners in both sports that they at a point now where they are going to try to break these unions I truly believe that.”
Barkley has been wrong about things before (Charles had the first draft pick in the TNT Ultimate All-Star Fantasy Draft and picked Allen Iverson over Bird and Jordan), but he makes a few interesting points about an NBA work stoppage. The chances of the NBA cancelling some regular season games are much higher than the NFL’s are. This is simply because the NBA has less time to work out a deal than the NFL does. The NBA Finals end in June, and the season starts up in November, giving the players and owners less than four months. The time between the Super Bowl and the first NFL regular season game is a little over seven months.
We have seen in the past that when the NBA plays a reduced regular season schedule due to a labour issue, their attendance figures and ratings fall. The 1998-99 NBA lockout shortened season had a 2.2 per cent drop in attendance numbers from the previous year , and the NBA Finals drew the lowest amount of viewers since 1981. The ratings were expected to fall a little bit since Michael Jordan retired, but he didn’t even play NBA basketball in 1981 and he didn’t make his first NBA Finals appearance until 1991, so the drop ended up being much larger than expected.
Commissioner David Stern does know what a lockout could mean for his league, so don’t be totally shocked if Charles Barkley’s expectation pans out.
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