The tone of labor talks is this. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
"If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking."
~William Tecumseh Sherman
As you have probably already noticed, nba.com is now an old-timer's page. All current player images and videos have been scrubbed from the site. Hey, I love the historical stuff but come on now. I don't need to see highlights of every draft and dunk contest of the 90s, and this has been the NBA's content.
In a tactical move in the league's war against the player's union, nba.com and NBATV will show no current players. And, this is good for who? How? Huh? It's not good for anybody, and it's part of a scorched earth policy being spearheaded by David Stern. Stern's tactics continue to become increasingly combative, as Dave D'Alessandro of The Star-Ledger explains here.
What are the owners attempting to accomplish with this?
According to NBA spokesman Mike Bass, quoted in the Wall Street Journal:
"We do not think it is appropriate to be using video and photography of our current players at this time," said NBA spokesman Mike Bass. People close to the NBA say that the league doesn't believe it should continue profiting off players by using their images online after locking them out over issues of compensation and revenue sharing.
Well, that sure sounds noble and generous of them, doesn't it? So then, what are they really up to?
The NBA's marketing work is almost as valuable as its players, and the owners know this. By refusing to market locked out players, the league expects to drive their value down. By showing all these old-timers instead, they are driving home the point to cheer for the jersey more than the guys who wear it. There will always be some new guy in that jersey, right?
Having been in countless debates and arguments in my life, this strikes me as a "going for the jugular" move. This is the owners telling the players, "we don't really need you; without our marketing and the salaries we pay you, whattaya got?"
This might prove to be a winner for the owners but, damn. I just hope no cities are burned down in the process.