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NBA Heading for Lockout at Midnight as Talks Stall

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Even in bracing for the worst, it’s never easy news to take. The NBA lockout was set to begin July 1, with the faintest glimmer that maybe it could be avoided. All we heard was how far apart the players union and the owners were, but maybe, against all hope, a deal could be reached to avoid a work stoppage that would threaten the 2011-12 NBA season.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming odds won, and the NBA is heading for a lockout.

The two sides were unable to reach an agreement today, and from the sounds of it, looks like that agreement won’t be reached any sooner than the NFL, which has terrorized sports headlines and generally bummed everyone out as it plows through its fourth month. While the NFL lockout seems to have some light far into the distance, the NBA lockout is just now entering its own tunnel, and it’s pitch black, cold, and appears to stretch for hundreds of miles.

As the NFL lockout seems to be profitable owners squabbling over some loose change, the NBA lockout will shape the landscape of the entire league for the future, a league in which the Indiana Pacers are one of many teams hoping to get out of the red, a league that doesn’t benefit its smaller market teams and needs to revamp if they hope to avoid league contraction.

Still, that makes it no easier to take for fans, who end up being the real losers in this conflict. This lockout may prove to be a necessary detour to fix many of the problems with the league, but it means no Paul George and Lance Stephenson tearing it up in Summer League, no welcomed late summer deals that improves the team, no counting down the days until training camp, no Frank Vogel signing, no free agency, nothing. Just waiting. Waiting and hoping that the dispute doesn’t reach 2004-05 NHL levels or even 1998-99 NBA levels, but it’s certainly being painted as a bleak picture that could reach the levels of both.

In the end, when it’s all said and done, if the Pacers can find themselves on equal standing competitively with the Lakers and Knicks of the NBA, it will be patience worth exercising. Fortunately, if this young Pacers team has just one thing, it’s time.