The NBA lockout is a week old.
This milestone looks like the first of many depressing moments for the league, its owners and its players. No meetings are planned. No discussions are imminent. No end is in sight.
When weeks turn to months and emotions bubble over during the lockout, I hope everyone will remember the true villains in this whole thing.
Not good owners. Not players. Not the NBA.
Bad owners wanted to be bailed out the last time the league locked out its players, and a little over a decade later, they want to be saved again.
When is the NBA going to stop asking its players, its good owners and its fans to keep cleaning up the messes made by these rubes?
When is everyone going to say enough is enough?
The last time the NBA had a lockout was 1998. Back then, the league said its teams couldn't possibly survive under the system that was in place. They were losing money. They were fading fast.
So, they changed the rules.
Luxury taxes and escrow accounts were added. Ditto for limits on contract lengths and contract amounts.
Much of it was done at the expense of the players, by the way. They took it on the chin.
And now, only 13 years later, the league is again saying that its teams can't possibly survive, that the league is losing millions every year, that the business model is broken.
Is anyone else noticing a pattern?
The truth is, the real problem then is the same as the real problem now.
Bad owners are to blame.
Listen, I'm not saying all owners. There are good ones out there. There are owners who know how to manage their businesses properly, being smart with their finances and doing deals that make sense.
Then, there are owners who offer guys like Joe Johnson $124 million over six years or Rudy Gay $80 million over five years.
Do you realize the Hawks made Johnson the highest-paid free agent in last summer's high-profile class? He's a nice player, but he's not worth more than LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Amar'e Stoudemire.
Gay's a nice player, too, but the Grizzlies' swingman going to earn only $1.2 million a year less than Kevin Durant. He is nowhere near the player that KD is, yet his salary would indicate otherwise.
Those two contracts are among the worst in the NBA, but they are hardly the only bad contracts on the books. You don't have to look far to find them.
Bad owners are the culprits.
They sign the checks, so even if a general manager or a vice president did the bad deal, the blame still falls on the owner.
Listen, I'm not sitting here saying that bad owners are the only ones who are poor with their finances. There are plenty of players who are bad with their money. They are immature and irresponsible. They overindulge and overextend. And sometimes, things go terribly, horribly wrong.
Penthouse millionaires become skid-row bums.
But the difference is impact. In the case of the players, the one hurt most by a fiscally foolish athlete is the man himself. With bad owners, they hurt their entire franchise.
One awful contract can cost tens of millions and start a nasty downward spiral. First, you lose money and start struggling to retain good players or top free agents. Then, you start losing games, losing fans and losing even more revenue.
I understand it's tough to be in that predicament, but wasn't the collective bargaining agreement done during the last lockout supposed to fix the broken system?
The truth is, the system isn't broken.
Oh, sure, having a hard cap would be good for the Thunder. A small-market franchise like Oklahoma City would be better able to compete over the long haul with the likes of Los Angeles and Miami if there was a fixed high-water mark for payrolls.
But having a hard cap, which the league and the owners are pushing, wouldn't automatically fix everything. That's because there are owners who are going to bumble and stumble and lose millions regardless of the rules.
They cannot be saved from themselves.
Still, with this latest lockout, the NBA is again demanding that its players, its fans, even its responsible and good owners bail out these bad owners.
When will the league stop doing the same thing but expecting a different result? Couldn't the NBA be right back in this same situation in another 13 years?
Talk about a milestone that no one wants.