I'm frequently awake late at night (I'm the kind of person who stays up until 5 AM but complains about having to take a minute to use a toothbrush) surfing the Internet, and there's always a quietness that sets in when a certain time is reached. The barren nature of the activity of Twitter or any web page in front of me always seems to almost perfectly align with the stillness I physically and mentally sense in the immediate and tangible world. I want to continue to discuss, argue, and make stupid jokes about the NBA with the Internet world, but no one is around to hear and respond, and that seems fitting. It feels like a welcome break from pointless dialogue and overt self-interest (and least for one moment). Of course, boredom begins to set in, and I seek some random tweet to dissect and discuss. For some reason, someone is usually awake and interested enough to respond. Today, as the long-dreaded NBA lockout inevitably becomes official, an unresponsive market of fans may eventually replace the currently vibrant NBA fan community.
With a possibly lengthy NBA lockout looming, everyone seems to be bracing themselves. Many "The Calm Before The Storm!"-type articles have been written lately by respected bloggers, and they accurately place the prevailing mood to a degree. No one wants to see Twitter reduced to sarcastic live-tweeting of generic TNT dramas (shout-out to all the Franklin and Bash bros, you know who you are) and pondering thoughts about what the lockout really means, man. I want things to happen in the NBA, and I want it now. I'd rather hear read a story about what kind of contract Aaron Gray might get (It better include a marketing campaign entitled, "Have A Better Gray!" or a section of fans called the "Gray-beards") than one about what David Stern might be thinking when he wakes up in the morning.
What scares me most about the possibility of an NBA lockout is not the existence of depressing news but the infinitely terrifying prospect of a void with no way to be filled by a graveyard market. The first month of a potential lockout and negotiations don't scare me on as deep level, because I'm confident news will at least be frequent and somewhat focused. I'm worried about a second month in which the owners won't budge and the players can't. I'm worried about a third month in which progress can't be made because of long-term goals and pride. I'm worried about a fourth month where negotiations begin to take a backseat in the headlines and the public becomes tired of the issue. I'm worried about a series of months in which there is no season and an eventual, "Ok, you win, owners. You have billions of dollars and power and control our livelihood." from the players' union. It's a sad prospect, and one that I fervently hope won't come to fruition.
But we all hope there won't be a shortened season, or (*gasps, runs around in circles, finds solace in Landry Fields' poster) no season at all. No one wants to have to spend time doing "actual things" and "going outside" to see "people". We want the NBA. We want something to grasp at, call ours, and devote our time to. The feeling constantly manifests itself in life for all of us, and often times in sports. There is no group of people more lively, engaged, and devoted to their sport than the NBA blogosphere, Twitter, and online community are with the game of basketball. I'm part of that group, I think, and the thought of its vibrancy waning saddens me.
Do I know what will happen with the lockout today and going forward? No. No one does, except maybe the squid that bets on World Cup matches (horrible, possibly incorrect reference, I know. I'm grasping for desperate straws here. And to be clear, I'm desperate, not the straws.) But at least the temporary future holds hope and focus. With so little currently quantifiable about the situation, it's justifiable for me to hope a fair agreement will be made somewhat soon.
But the indefinable is so much more terrifying than the obvious. Three months from now, no progress could easily have been made. Moods may sour, and NBA news may cower behind other sports with no momentum in tow. And that's what I can't to see. I don't want to see the NBA fan community fade and lose steam. I don't want to see jilted fans and a dearth in spending time. I don't want to see one more year of Brian Cardinal's prime go to waste. I don't want to see "Larry Crowne", though that seems inconsequential now. I want to know what's going on, I want the talks between the players and owners to be in full swing and energized, and I want to believe there's a chance the CBA will be temporarily extended and then revised. Something positive may very well happen soon, and all my impending gloom could be lifted and replaced with an orthodontist-approved smile. And for the short-term of a month or so, I have that luxury of hope. In the second and continuing month(s), I may not. I worry there may be no clear hope. I worry there may only be murkiness and stagnation. I worry for NBA employees, writers, and anyone else whose livelihood could be affected by a lockout, and that worry should be, and is, much greater than my own selfish interest.
I worry there may be no one to respond to my inane NBA drivel at 5 AM, and nothing, as a fan, is more worrying than that.