Column: NBA failing to keep parity among teams

Dan Nelson and Dan Nelson

The NBA has slowly been working its way towards a lockout over the past few seasons due to failing policies and a lack of interest.

I’ve been avidly watching basketball for about a decade now and I’m disturbed at the current state of the NBA and how it’s losing momentum.

The most recent off-season in the NBA has been one of the most talked about in league history.

A plethora of big name players, like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire and above all, LeBron James, hit the free-agent market this summer. James, Wade and Bosh were in fact three of the five starters on last year’s eastern conference all-star team.

Consequently, James’ decision to join the Miami Heat, which was broadcasted via his one-hour special on ESPN, (you can find all parts on YouTube) left me scratching my head.

But it only takes 15 seconds to announce what team you decided to join over the summer. What could the other 59 minutes and 45 seconds be about?

The whole fiasco was so bad that even NBA Commissioner David Stern was irked about the decision.

It’s disappointing to see the arguably best player in the NBA tarnish his legacy by joining a juggernaut like Miami. A proper analogy is the Heat having a monopoly on all the talent. The NBA needs to spread its talent out to create more competition; but that’s the problem with giving the players the power to sign their own contracts and make their own decisions.

Even if LeBron wins a championship, it won’t mean as much. It turns a beloved player into a grudgingly detested player.

I wrote a column last spring about the NBA’s rich teams getting richer and the poor teams getting poorer in the flawed system of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. And it’s only getting worse.

Fundamental change vs. the status quo is a very oppositional duality. Commissioner Stern has provided the players with numbers for the new hard cap the NBA player’s union, the organization that speaks on behalf of all NBA players. However, the players insist the owners have exaggerated the 30 teams’ aggregated losses, the number of teams that are unprofitable and the degree to which they’re losing money.

When the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Spanish guard Ricky Rubio in the first round of last year’s NBA draft, Rubio denied them. The Timberwolves haven’t exactly been a playoff contender the last few seasons and is a poor team in a small market. Subsequently, Rubio opted out of his rookie contract and went back to play with Spanish club team FC Barcelona.

Of course European teams have more appeal to international players looking to join the NBA ranks. Even big name stars have considered playing over seas because the Euro-league has no salary cap, and can offer players figures like $50 million a season.

Salary caps in the NBA vary depending on the number of years a player has been in the league. The longer you’ve played, the more the money you can make per season, but the maximum anyone can make at all is a shade over $19 million per season as of the 2010-2011 season.