One of the oft-cited casualties of an NBA lockout is the arena workers; whether you consider them a symbol writers latch onto as rhetoric, or real, live bodies that scrape for money and feel the lockout sting (and both are true), the idea remains that human beings with five-figure salaries are the forgotten children as human beings with 7-10 figure salaries bicker over splitting their pot.
However, if the players decide to come through on their idea to construct their own league, there’s one arena where the workers may end up seeing some work: the Prudential Center in Newark, alleged New Jersey Nets home for one more year.
(I)f either Anthony or Stoudemire gets his wish and the locked out players need a place to play, the Prudential Center would be willing to host them, according to Robert Sommer, a spokesman for the four-year-old Newark arena.
“We can do it,” Sommer said of hosting barnstorming NBA players in games. “And we would love to host Carmelo.”
The Nets are renting dates at Prudential Center, which is controlled by the NHL’s Devils, for the 2011-12 season before a planned move to Brooklyn and the new Barclays Center next fall. So, while a building like Madison Square Garden — which is owned by the people who own the Knicks — wouldn’t stage games featuring locked-out NBA players, the Prudential Center is free to entertain any act, or show, that can pay the rent.
Of course, there are many hurdles that would need to be cleared to get any kind of game into the Prudential Center. The players would need to take care of all their insurance needs and a whole bunch of other logistical matters, and there is also the question of whether the players would need a building as big as the Rock. So far, the exhibitions the NBA players have taken part in are being held in small college gyms. But if the lockout drags on, could a game featuring Anthony, Stoudemire, perhaps LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and other big names draw enough to warrant holding it in an 18,000-seat arena?
Let me answer your question, Colin Stephension: Yes.
If there’s no basketball in the entire country, do you really think a trip on the PATH train to Newark is going to deter fans from watching (potentially) LeBron, Wade, Stoudemire, Durant, et al? I know it’s Newark, where the basketball product normally borders on the unwatchable and the fanbase is ill-prepared to watch live games. But this isn’t the Nets we’re talking about, this is the best players in the world. And Carmelo Anthony.
Side note: it is kind of upsetting that a Lockout League would most likely only benefit the players that don’t really need the help in the first place. I’ll bet Jordan Williams doesn’t get any roster invites, yet he’s still never seen an NBA paycheck.
Even so, I’m kind of rooting for this to happen now. It’d probably be the best basketball we’d see in Newark all year.