We know who has the most to gain from the current NBA lockout: small-market owners who are losing money every season, such as Minnesota's Glen Taylor (pictured). If they get a more owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement, they'll have a better shot at turning a profit. And hey, if the 2011-12 season is canceled, that's OK with them. But what about those who stand to lose the most if the impasse stretches well into 2012? Here are 10 hoping to salvage the season.
Welcome to the NBA, guys. Now sit tight. You can't play in the NBA's summer league. (It's been canceled.) You can't work out at your team's practice facility. You can't talk to your new coaches. You're not getting paid. It's possible your rookie season will be delayed until 2012-13. Maybe some of you should have just stayed in school.
Miami Heat fans
These are anxious times for fans of the Miami Heat, especially the ones who jumped on the bandwagon last summer. They thought they could ride along and enjoy the Big Three's certain NBA dynasty. Then the Mavericks spoiled Season One. And now a lockout could wipe out Season Two? This league domination may have to wait a while.
Stern deserves credit for presiding over the NBA's massive growth in his 27 years as commissioner. But as the public face and voice of the owners in this labor dispute, his image figures to take a beating the longer the lockout continues. He'll certainly be blamed if next season is canceled and the NBA's popularity nosedives, so his legacy is very much on the line.
Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett
Never mind that both players are set to make more than $21 million this season — the final year of their last superstar contracts. Both likely have earned enough in their careers to live without that dough if the season gets canceled. The bigger issue is that each 35-year-old realistically has, at best, one more shot at a championship. These two, along with other aging stars, such as Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, can't afford a lost season at this stage of their careers.
Overseas American players
Every year, American players who aren't quite good enough for the NBA find work in leagues abroad and make a pretty decent living. This year, if the lockout isn't lifted, many of those spots may be filled by NBA players such as Deron Williams, who already has signed a deal with a Turkish team. Since most leagues allow just two foreign players per team, there are only so many jobs available for US ballers.
Does anyone want to get next season started more than LeBron? He can't begin to shake off his epic failure in the 2011 NBA Finals until the games start counting again. Really, he won't live it down until he wins a championship. But no season means no shot at redemption for the Chosen One.
Kobe stands to lose the most in terms of salary. A canceled season would cost him $25,244,000. But his NBA legacy always has seemed to mean more to Bryant than money. And with five championship rings, he's still one short of Michael Jordan, the player with whom he's most often compared. How many more chances does Kobe have left after the wear and tear of 15 NBA seasons? This aging Lakers team won't get any younger during a prolonged lockout.
New York Knicks
Even if 22 NBA teams are losing money, as the league claims, that leaves eight that are turning a profit. For some, it's a healthy one. The Knicks, after expenses, had an operating income of $64 million in 2010. That's the highest in the NBA, according to Forbes. The Lakers and Bulls also make plenty of money every year and are at risk of losing an entire season of profits to help the poorer franchises strike a more favorable deal.
NBA and team personnel
It's easy to dismiss the NBA's labor dispute as a battle between millionaires and billionaires, but a lot of normal folks depend on the league to pay their rent. That includes arena workers, team support staff, NBA publicists and many more. The league office already has laid off more than 100 employees, and the Charlotte Bobcats, among other teams, have cut staff. If you don't care about them, at least care about the dance teams. What are they supposed to do?!
The biggest victim of the NBA lockout may be the NBA itself. It took the league a long time to recover from its last lockout in 1998, which wiped out half a season. Last season brought huge TV ratings, national interest in the Miami Heat saga and a feel-good ending with the Dallas Mavericks' title. But the NBA doesn't have the massive following and fan loyalty of the NFL. A lost season may turn many fans away from pro basketball permanently.