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updated: 11/26/2011 7:15 PM

To NBA fans, all that matters is the game

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  • All that matters now is that NBA Commissioner David Stern has his league getting back to work.

    All that matters now is that NBA Commissioner David Stern has his league getting back to work.
    Associated Press


The No Basketball Association soon will be the National Basketball Association again.

The NBA drove the lane, bodies crashed to the floor, and no whistle was blown.

No harm no foul.

If anything, the NBA will be welcomed back because this could be a more entertaining season than if these two foolish groups of fat cats never engaged in a foolish lockout.

Here's how a normal season evolves: Opening night is a big deal; then the league gets lost; Christmas Day is a big deal; then the league gets lost again.

Only after the Super Bowl does the NBA become persistently relevant, leading up to playoff races and ultimately the postseason.

So nothing was squandered but season openers and a bunch of late-autumn games that season-ticket holders don't have to pay for.

Assuming both parties ratify the tentative agreement reached this weekend, play will commence in earnest shortly after presents are cleared from under the tree.

Each team's regular season is expected to consist of 66 games. This is perfect since the 50 games played in 1998-99 were too few and the customary 82 are too many.

Despite attempting to ruin the sport over issues that only Bulls financial and legal whiz Irwin Mandel could understand, the NBA might wind up enjoying its most popular season ever.

The public appetite will be whetted for basketball at the highest level. Players will be rested. Intensity will be amped. Play will be elevated. Excitement will be feverish.

Oh, that minor matter of fans holding a grudge over being held hostage?

They'll get over it sooner than later.

Lockouts and strikes are as much a part of sports in the modern era as fumbles, double dribbles, dumb penalties, drug testing and visits to the commissioner's office.

Both sides are ill advised in any work stoppage, whether it be teachers and school districts or the UAW and auto companies or reporters and newspapers.

Trust me, I've been there, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do whether it's sensible or senseless.

NBA owners felt they had to lock out players because, supposedly, 22 of 30 teams didn't operate intelligently enough to even break even.

NBA players felt they had to stay out rather than give in because they didn't want to sacrifice as much money as management demanded.

A common perception is the players were responsible for the dispute's duration.

Maybe yes maybe no.

Sometimes employees just don't want to be dictated to by the people whose business they helped grow in value.

In this case, instead of owners insisting the game needs to reduce expenses -- like payrolls -- maybe the problem is that they weren't creative enough to increase revenues.

But all this business stuff matters only to businessmen, which both NBA owners and NBA players are in the high-stakes game within the game.

What matters to the fans that pay the dues is the game within the black lines.

It's Derrick Rose weaving toward the hoop and feathering a teardrop; it's Kobe Bryant with the ball in his hands as the clock ticks down; it's LeBron James being the league's best player until the ball is in his hands as the season ticks down. It's all that and so much more.

After a needless delay neither forgiven nor forgotten, the NBA will return to a TV near you on Christmas Day.

No offense intended, fans none taken, fellas.

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