What’s love got to do with it?
For all the talk of the love of the game by both sides in the NBA lockout (“basketball never stops”), the fans are not feeling that love. Fans do love the game and pay to watch it be played. Right now the owners and players are having raw emotional fights about money and freedom of player movement. That doesn’t feel like love.
Former NBA player John Amaechi was on the Dan Lebatard show last week, primarily to talk about the scandal at his alma mater Penn State. Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop watched the interview as it turned to hoops. (As a reminder Amaechi came out as a homosexual after his NBA playing days. He was in no way accused of wrongdoing as part of the Penn State scandal.)
Amaechi talked about the NBA lockout and motivations for players. When asked what he missed most about the NBA he said “the paychecks,” which is a topic Amaechi talked about in his memoir. And while fans want to think their favorite players take to the court for the love of the game, that is not usually the case.
People who think you need to love something in order to do it don’t understand fundamental human motivation. That’s not how it works. To me, this is one of the huge hypocrisies that sports people perpetrate because it’s good for marketing. It’s this idea that … they convince everybody they love it so much that they’d do it for nothing. And yet nobody does it for nothing. Two leagues have been locked out … and players have agents to make sure that every year they make more, even though what they make is more than anyone can possibly conceive of — what they make in a month is more than anybody can possibly conceive of.
Ask the players right now in the NBA. “If you loved the game, would the season be eroding, knowing that you’re still going to make a gajillion dollars a year?” Really?
There are a lot of players who do love the game, and some who like it. There are players in the NBA who love the lifestyle and money and that is their motivation. In reality, it’s a mixture of all of it for most players — the money and the game and the lifestyle go hand in hand, so they work at their game to keep it all going.
It’s just a reminder not to think of this as love, but to think of this as business. Because in the end that’s what it is — the business of a game, but still business.