We learned that seven hours of negotiations could prove as meaningless as the 2 1/2 hours it takes to complete Kings-Timberwolves.
And we confirmed that David Stern is every bit as ruthless as we already knew.
Through all the drama, through the threats, the stops, the starts, the ultimate lack of an agreement, we've actually learned plenty during this lockout that now threatens to consume an 82-game season in two-week increments, which are the very increments in which most NBA players are paid.
So consider it revenue lost, lessons learned. (We hope. Eventually.)
What have we learned?
We learned this ...
Owners are not guardians of the game
They're in it for the money, many seemingly purely for the money. We get that now.
Sunday night, as the lockout negotiations were pushing toward midnight, I asked a league official how this all went so terribly wrong. Stern had invited some to be owners who either did not deserve it or did not have the financial wherewithal to push through this tough economy.
The league official countered how in some ways the NBA ownership situation resembles the housing meltdown, how some never were qualified to own, of how some built their financing on little of substance.
The romantic version of sports features owners so passionate about the game that their legacy and the legacy of their franchises trumps the bottom line. When the league was smaller, with familial ownership, that might have been the case.
Now? We've heard about Robert Sarver moaning about the lack of profit certainty with his Suns. Not cost certainty, which was all the salary cap was there to do in the first place.
The Summer of 2011 was going to be ugly with the expiration of the collective-bargaining agreement. We got that. But because of who Stern allowed in the door from an ownership standpoint, it got far uglier. These are not the custodians of the sport; they are the custodians of their own bottom lines.
By not playing, many lose less money.
Contraction would help
Among the best examples of what the game could be came in Saturday's stars-only exhibition in Miami, where summer ball didn't mean summer slop.
The passes were crisp. The ball movement precise. Chris Paul's 14 assists were legit, a total not all that difficult when Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are running the wing. It became clear that stars truly measure up to their abilities when paired with other stars. The respect for the game in this exhibition was absolute.
What the NBA long has sold is a star system, the other guys are just seat fillers. The pre-cap Celtics and Lakers were what made the sport special. The Heat and Knicks last season contributed to the revival.
The shame of the lockout is we end with the same 30 teams we started with, without contraction truly being addressed. Of course, the league owns one of those teams (the Hornets) and has taken the arena-negotiating lead for another (the Kings), so the target teams are in place.
PBT: San Antonio raced out to a 25-point lead at home, pushed back on Memphis’ big third-quarter run, shut down Zach Randolph and cruised to a 105-83 win.
PBT: The Grizzlies haven't faced a team this postseason that can execute its system to the level that the Spurs can. The results were obvious in the series opener.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Grizzlies ready for 'running' Spurs
DPS: Lionel Hollins tells us how he plans to play against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
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