An Open Letter to Derek Fisher

An Open Letter to Derek Fisher

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Dear Mr. Fisher,

You’ve always been a favorite amongst the citizens of Lakers Nation for your quintessential professionalism on and off the court. You’ve provided us with countless memories, from the 0.4 heave to sink the Spurs to the recent fourth quarter outburst in Game 3 of the 2010 Finals. Despite everything you’ve accomplished, ending this lockout may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do in your career.

That said, this lockout is slightly ridiculous from the fans’ vantage point, so please put an end to it.

I understand the immense amount of pressure placed upon your shoulders to strike a deal; however the notion that millionaires and billionaires can’t agree over revenue sharing means absolutely nothing to us fans. We are desperately praying there will be a season, so we can spend our hard earned money (money earned through gruesome labor and not through playing basketball) on your product.

Tell the owners that if Amir Johnson isn’t worth 34 million dollars over five years then don’t offer him that in the first place.

Better yet, tell them while they may “own” the teams, you can’t put a price tag on the intangibles of the game we love to watch 82 times a year.

As TJ Detweiler, the protagonist of the cartoon series Recess, once said when Principal Prickley claimed ownership of a playground; “your jungle gym? How can you own a jungle gym? How can you own the way the monkey bars feel in a kid’s fingers when he’s hanging in midair? How can you put a price on the cool clean feel of metal on a guy’s butt when he’s sliding full blast on a slide? It’s like magic. And let me tell you something Principal Prickley, magic is not school property.”

Similarly, while the owners and Mr. David Stern may provide the players’ salaries, an arena to play in, sponsorships and everything else that comes along with being rich and powerful, the magic of basketball is priceless.

How can they lock players out of a game millions upon millions play in gyms and outdoor courts every day?

If this summer has proven anything, it has shown the fans that basketball is basketball. It doesn’t need to be glamorized and played in front of a capacity crowd of 18,000 people who overpay for their seats and snacks.

At the various summer leagues, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and many other NBA stars, captivated crowds a fraction of the size of the ones at Staples Center. We still watched.

The owners can take away the NBA, but they can never take away the fans’ never-ending thirst to watch good basketball.

Watching the game is something a lot of working men and women rely on as an escape after a long day at the office.

To kids, the game may merely be a simple activity they might pick up one time in grade school and keep playing the rest of their lives. But by watching it on television being played at its highest level, it inspires them to get better.

After every layup I convert in a pickup game, I pump my fist like Kobe, after every defensive stop I kiss my biceps like Ron (err…sorry Metta). And that’s no coincidence, it’s because I was a product of the NBA. By locking the league out, you risk losing a generation of life-long fans who may decide since there’s no NBA season I’m going to like soccer instead.

We live for NBA basketball, we need it. Watching Laker basketball has always been a constant in my life, something I can depend on, even when everything else is a variable. Mr. Fisher, don’t let the owners take this game away from us.

As you know NFL season just kicked off, and since my group of friends are extremely into football I watched a couple of the opening weekend’s games with them. It just didn’t feel the same for me, even when the New Orleans Saints had a chance to tie the game with one last play on Green Bay’s goal line I was the least excited guy in the room.

The main premise of the lockout is that 22 of the 30 teams in the league are losing money and small market teams can’t compete any longer. Consider this Mr. Fisher, in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent article for Grantland, he explains that owning a NBA franchise has always been a bad business.

The owners should buy the teams because they love the game not because they expect to make money. Gladwell uses Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, as an example: Snyder made $2 billion by the age of 36 and he sold his company, Snyder Communications. To him Snyder Communications is a business while the Redskins are an investment he expected no return on. “The former he ran to solely maximize profit, the latter he runs for his psychic benefit-as a reward for all the years he spent being disciplined and rational,” Gladwell writes.

Here we are halfway through September, with the NBA season scheduled to be right around the corner. Some look forward to Halloween but I celebrate the beginning of a fresh season.

But this year is different, for the first time since I started following the NBA obsessively, there is a possibility there might not be a season.

The prospect of a lost season is a frightening, so please do your best to end this lockout so we can see you out of your three-piece suit and back into the familiar number two jersey. We’re all behind you. We believe in you.

Sincerely,

Gabe Lee

President of the Disgruntled Fans Association