By now you may know that the NBA season is on the verge of being cancelled. The pre season was cancelled and the regular season may, or may not happen. The last time an NBA season was in danger was in 1998, before the age of social media. Even without social media the strike played out poorly for everyone.
In 1998 NBA guard Kenny Anderson was earning $49 million a year and joked to reporters that he might have to sell one of his cars during the strike. Two months later player’s agents had organized a charity game with some of the money raised going to out of work players. At the time Player’s Union President, Patrick Ewing said that professional athletes “make a lot of money, but they also spend a lot of money”.
All of that happened with the coverage of traditional media, radio, television and newspaper. Granted the internet was a viable source of news in 98’, but things weren’t as widely reported as they are now.
Fast forward to the current strike and the players are keenly aware that they did not escape the 1998 work stoppage looking sympathetic. The players haven’t committed the same gaffes that they did in 1998.
A couple players stuck their foot in mouth to a certain degree a couple of months ago. Now that the season is in jeopardy the tweets are flying. They’re using hastags like #Lockout, #StandProud and stating that they’re with the fans, but will go work in Europe if necessary.
None of the tweets were too offensive. But nobody wants to hear somebody who makes $5 million a year joke about having to buy in bulk, moving to Europe or complaining about their boss.
Taking a glance at the comments section on the sports pages suggest that the fans will have little sympathy for the players if they don’t return to the bargaining table. If that’s the case then the ultimate PR and social media winner could be the NFL, NHL or soccer, unless they strike too.