by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

If you’ve been paying attention to the lockout between players and owners over at the National Football League, it is quite evident the players who have been front and center on behalf of the players.

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Drew Brees.

What has not been so clear is who are going to be the players who lead the charge to end a lockout between players and owners in the National Basketball Association. Sure there are players’ representatives of each team who have the seat at the table, but there is something more on the line than just the paycheck and long-term benefits that come along with a players’ union.

People’s legacies are on that line.

Peyton Manning is 35, Tom Brady is 33, and Drew Brees is 32. Arguably the three best quarterbacks in all of football (this is a basketball site, I’m not about to debate this with you all right now) are on the frontline trying to get their football lives back in order. Why? Because they know that their legacies are on the line. Manning and Brady are on their quest to be the greatest quarterback of all-time, and Brees is fighting to be in that elite tier with Elway, Montana, Marino, Manning and Brady. There’s no country for old quarterbacks who waste their prime years enduring lockout hell.

So this is a public service announcement to Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Dwyane Wade…this is your legacy calling. There’s no country for aging and decrepit superstars who waste a prime year of their career over a lockout.

Look, Kobe is on the brink of cementing a top-five of all time legacy. If the man were able to bring home a sixth ring to his trophy case, the Kobe Stans are going to scream to the heavens that he’s the best of all time. The prognosticators will begin to question should he be placed into the pantheon of elite players that since Jordan retired, has been unquestioned. So Kobe wants to consider going to Europe? For what? There’s nothing for him to prove there. Isn’t this your quest, in your journey, to be the greatest of all time? You can’t lose a year now, you’ve got to at least give the ‘Mike Brown era’ a chance first. And, as the face of the of “The Association” your voice should be respected and appreciated at the negotiating table and if that doesn’t work then do that crazy overbite you do in the fourth quarter all the time. That’ll put some fear in their hearts to end this.

Same goes for Kevin Garnett. If the lockout continues and puts to end any chance of an NBA season, we might literally see the end of Kevin Garnett on a basketball court. Unlike his teammates Jesus Shuttlesworth and Paul Pierce, I’m not sure how KG can either play at an elite level as a starter or play in a reduced role. We forget Garnett’s been in the League since NBA Live ’95 (arguably the greatest basketball video game ever) and has a ton of miles on those creaky knees. KG is arguably the greatest power forward not named Tim Duncan of our generation, and a second title could put him on the Mt. Rushmore of big men of our generation. Olajuwon, Duncan, O’Neal, and possibly KG. We need those scowls, yells, screams and facial expressions in the boardroom.

But there might not be more pressure on one team and one player to get this lockout over with more than Dwyane Wade. Why? Man, there’s no country for an explosive wing man whose go-to move is getting to the rim at the age of 30. You know, that whole “Fall down seven times, get up eight” campaign that Dwyane Wade used to live by? He can’t do that anymore. That vertical leap isn’t quite what it used to be (remember Taj Gibson?) and that first step isn’t going to work on everyone like it used to. Look, I’m not dogging Dwyane Wade, but for a player who isn’t quite as crafty or resourceful as a Kobe Bryant that athletic ability is only going to take him so far. The Miami Heat need to win championships right now, and LeBron didn’t come to South Beach just to see Dwyane Wade take his talents to the trainer’s room for half the season. Miami can’t afford to lose a season, there’s too much on the line and Dwyane’s legacy is on the brink. Bring in Gabrielle Union or something if you have to and distract those lawyers. Jokes.

There’s never been an NBA player’s legacy that’s been compromised by labor issues, and this current crop of stars that are crowning their end can’t afford to lose a year. The young guns are coming, the talent is getting deeper, and if the owners keep screaming broke like they claim then these “Big 3” squads won’t be able to happen in the future. The time is now, because there’s no country for old men and legacies.

Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.