‘Is Anybody Hiring? LOLZ’
When NBA players make unemployment jokes, no one laughs harder than NBA owners.
by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones
Dear NBA Players,
I hate open letters. They’re often annoying and usually ineffective, and this one may be no exception, but I had to try something beyond the 140-character rants I’ve been firing off since Thursday afternoon. So here’s this, inspired by some of you, and in the best interests of all of you. And of us, too.
DeMarcus Cousins started it, as far as I know, but I’m not here to pick on Boogie. Dwyane Wade joined in the fun early Friday morning. I’m guessing others tried for similar lolz. I know you’re trying to keep it light, and I’m not personally offended, but please, hear me when I ask you, politely, to knock that shit off.
As of May, the national unemployment rate was hovering just over 9 percent, or roughly 14 million people. Those stats don’t show the number of underemployed—those who work long, hard hours and still can’t make ends meet—nor the unquantifiable others who live in fear of layoffs, or furloughs, or even just salary freezes, that could come at any time. It’s hard right now, for a lot of people, and a lot of you NBA players know it. Most of you weren’t millionaires before you got to the League. More than a few of you came from next to nothing.
I don’t begrudge the wealth basketball has brought you. Most of us don’t. And just the same, most of us—the ones who are paying attention—understand that while you could concede and end this lockout sooner than later, that wouldn’t be justice. We know who’s dictating the terms of this situation (or trying to), and we know it’s not you. We are, most of us, on your side. Now you need to do what you can to keep us there.
The “who’s hiring?” jokes are not going to help.
Dwyane seems like a funny and likable guy, and he suggested those who took issue with his tweet should lighten up a little. It’s good advice, generally. But here’s the thing: It’s easy to laugh when you’ve got untold millions stacked in the bank. Most of us—even those of us with a sense of humor, or a really terrific sense of humor, like me—don’t have that luxury. And while the lockout for most of us is a real bummer—the potential loss of our favorite pastime, something we’re at least really interested in and in some cases unabashedly passionate about—it is for some of us much more. As a lot of stories will point out in the coming weeks and months, there are the people who work concessions and mop the court and park your cars at the arena, all of whom figure to take a hit they can’t afford.
And that’s before you get to those other 14 million, some of whom are close to running out of unemployment benefits, who don’t have any sort of financial cushion, who have mouths to feed. They read your tweets, too.
Listen, most of us are with you on this. You—the players—are the reason we love this game. The owners haven’t given us a reason to love anything about them, but one thing about those dudes: They know spin. They’ll stay on message. And they’ll stay the hell off Twitter.
You guys, feel free to keep your Twitter game tight this summer. Stay connected to your fans. But don’t be idiots. The jokes about your unemployment aren’t funny, and they’ll be less funny as this goes on. They’ve already pissed off some of us. We want to see this thing on end on your terms, but mostly we just want to see it end. It won’t take much for a lot of us—fans and media alike—to stop caring who wins, to decide you’re all just greedy millionaires fighting over the small print while our game withers away.
We’re on your side, NBA players. Don’t give us a reason not to be.