The NBA lockout is here; Will Pistons fans notice?

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern (R) and Adam Silver announce that a lockout will go ahead as NBA labor negotiations break down at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City. The NBA has locked out the players after they were unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current CBA is due to expire tonight at midnight. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

It's official: the NBA lockout has arrived. Any hope that the league and its players might find middle ground and avoid following in the NFL's ugly footsteps vanished at the stroke of midnight. In the short term, this doesn't change much for Pistons fans, except for those who regularly visited Pistons.com.

(Seriously, go look at it -- with the expiration of the CBA, the league is no longer allowed to use the images or names of players. As such, Pistons.com is solely fluff articles about cheerleaders, youth camps and Flight Crew tryouts. (Well, more than usual.) It's ridiculous.)

It's going to take some time for most Pistons fans to truly miss the NBA in the summertime, and for that we can thank the wise Joe Dumars. Was he truly handcuffed the last two years, or was he subtly preparing fans for a third summer of inactivity? You be the judge.

In any case, expect this lockout to drag on all summer -- the owners can't use it as leverage until there's actually a threat of missed games. Whether the owners and players can eventually resolve their differences without sacrificing a portion of the 2011-12 season is currently up for debate. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports argues that this could go the distance:

So the NBA leveled the lockout at midnight on Thursday, and there’s a real chance the NBA is gone for a full year now. This has the makings of the NHL’s labor war of 2004-05, where the cost of instituting a hard salary cap cost the sport a complete season. The union elders don’t want to give into that, nor do the agents who could be rendered far less relevant in an NBA world where there’s no middle class of players. Stars will get paid, and everyone else will fight for the scraps left under a hard cap.

"The key for this comes from, say, Sept. 1 to Sept. 15," says a source involved in the talks. "The owners have always been willing to blow off July and August, but once they cancel the first part of the season, that’s when we find out if they have the stomach to go the distance."

As MFMP pointed out yesterday, ESPN's Henry Abbott is more optimistic, showing the two sides may be closer than they actually appear. Who's right? I have no idea. And to be completely honest, I don't care.

Thinking too hard about the big picture finances of sports (both professional and college) puts me in a bad mood, much like thinking about golden parachutes on Wall Street, the oil industry or the price of popcorn at movie theaters. People are getting rich, and anybody who claims they aren't merely have good accountants.

Let's face it, attending a live sporting event is one of the least cost-effective ways to having a good time, and yet we turn out in droves because we have an addiction to feed called fandom. But being forced to observe billionaires and millionaires argue over how they're going to share our money? That's more than a little insulting. Figure it out behind closed doors without using our goodwill as leverage.

At least that's my take, which is why there's been precious little discussion of the labor situation thus far on DBB. Now that the lockout is officially here, it's time to remove my head from the sand -- at the very least we'll do our best to link out to the best writers with the stomach to cover this. But unlike the NBA's official online outlets, we won't pretend the players no longer exist -- we'll continue to debate trade scenarios, discuss the merits of prospective coaches and otherwise continue doing what we do.

(That said, if there's anybody out there who actually digs this labor stuff and would enjoy explaining the twists and turns to a super-engaged audience of readers, consider this an open invite to put your thoughts into a FanPost or two -- or more -- which I'll gladly promote to the center column on a regular basis. Surely such a person exists, right? I'm crossing my fingers.)

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