Richie Whitt, CBSDFW.COM

The NBA in 2011: Where Amazing Nothing Happens

117076293 Whitt: The NBA In 2011

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates a point against the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 12, 2011 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. AFP Photo / Don Emmert

It is June 12. Jason Kidd is on the low block. And we’re all on the edge of our seat.

As he’s done all NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki beats LeBron James. With 1/4th of his defender’s athleticism but 10 times the heart, Nowitzki zips down the lane in American Airlines Arena, takes a deft shovel pass from Kidd and lofts a perfect left-handed layup in front of James, high over onrushing defender Chris Bosh, and off the glass for another defining moment in the Dallas Mavericks’ triumph over the Miami Heat.

It is 9:41 p.m. It is the last basket the Mavericks will score in the NBA Finals and, unfortunately, likely the last they’ll make in 2011.

Welcome to the NBA Lockout, where ushers, vendors, Mavs ManiAACs, Mark Followill and sports bar owners suffer significant dents to their livelihood and where hoops junkies like myself are left to dust off the TiVo playlist to get our basketball fix.

That night in Miami Shawn Marion dribbled out the final seconds of the Mavs’ championship-clinching, 105-95, Game 6 win. Dallas’ next significant bouncing ball won’t come, at the earliest, until Dec. 17.

Altogether now: This suuuuuuuuucks!

The short version of the NBA Lockout goes like this. Owners, desiring a larger slice of the revenue pie, bullied the players with an ultimatum offer that backfired. Players, forced into desperate measure to keep what they feel is theirs, then jumped off the cliff. And now we’re all screwed. Can’t ignore the absurdity of millionaires fighting over billions in this economy. In a country besieged by Occupy movements led by homeless, jobless, hopeless masses, the NBA somehow thinks vacating jobs is a shrewd business move. It’s rough out there. Take it from a guy who in September was laid off by the Dallas Observer.

Tuesday was to be the first NBA pay day of the season. Most players spread their salaries out in 12 bi-weekly checks and, like you, get them direct-deposited. Not showing up in Mavs’ bank accounts yesterday were checks for $1,591,072.75 (Nowitzki), $971,500.00 (Jason Terry) and $103,060.00 (Roddy Beaubois). No money, and tonight, again, no games.

The Mavs aren’t playing the Grizzlies in Memphis. Instead, fans are left to decipher the tangled web that is now a “disclaimer of interest” and two anti-trust lawsuits filed in Minneapolis and San Francisco by the players. With the players deciding to reject the owners’ latest proposal and to disband their union, they are now, in essence, suing the owners for refusing to allow them to work.

Negotiations can still take place, but this looks uglier than Gheorge Muresan.

As the lockout enters Day 139, the NBA has canceled games through Dec. 15. Yep, best-case scenario is that we’ve already lost 26 percent of the season. Gone are Mavs’ marquee games against the Chicago Bulls (Nov. 1 and Dec. 7), San Antonio Spurs (Nov. 4), Oklahoma City Thunder (Nov. 5) and Los Angeles Lakers (Dec. 15 at AAC). The Mavs’ next possible game is Dec. 17 at the Milwaukee Bucks but, who are we kidding, I’m not counting on spending Christmas Day watching a Finals rematch between the Mavs-Heat on ABC.

I also covered the last NBA Lockout, which downsized the season into 50 games starting Feb. 5. It was ugly basketball. It was a diluted, inferior product with a championship won by the Spurs that should include an *asterisk.

The good news, I guess, is that the Mavs are still the undefeated NBA Champs. Their reign could last two years at this point. But I don’t want to see owner Mark Cuban blogging about his views on corporations and taxes. I want to see him handing out championship rings and raising the 2010-11 title banner to the AAC rafters. And I wanna watch Kidd – who turns 39 in March – play one more year.

“I hate where it’s gone right now,” Mavs’ player representative Jason Terry tells ESPN Dallas. “It sucks for us because of what we accomplished this last season. It sucks for our fans and everyone that works at the arena. And it sucks for me because I want to be playing.”

I miss Dirk’s Flamingo Fadeaway. I miss hating Dwyane Wade. I miss compelling highlights in ESPN’s Top 10 plays.

After watching the Mavs win the championship again – and again – last night, I decided to acquiesce to alternative entertainment. Yep, out of desperation I decided to give hockey a chance. Final score: Panthers 6, Stars 0.

I miss the NBA.

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