If it's NBA basketball you want, it's easy to side with the owners in this lockout that's a few days away from threatening the start of the season.
It's easy to argue that basketball superstars are placing themselves above the game, and that permanent bench players are making too many millions already, and that these players have hardly any ground to stand on when the NFL has everyone's attention for the next four months anyway.
It's easy to say that a league that's suffering actual losses, at least as far as we're allowed to see, is well within its own right to restructure its economic model, and that players bickering over how much money they deserve need to come down to earth and take significant pay cuts just like so many others in this country have over the past several years.
But while all that may be very true, when it comes to this increasingly infuriating NBA lockout, it's the other side of this dispute that's currently making the more ridiculous argument.
It's the owners who started these negotiations already winning, and are fighting tooth and nail to make it an absolute bludgeoning, all the while using an entirely unreasonable argument.
And while it's easy to make yourself believe that the millionaire athletes are simply being greedy and unrealistic here, it's the players who are deserving of the public's backing, for whatever that's worth.
What the NBA owners want is a system that doesn't just guarantee a level playing field in terms of winning games and putting out a quality product. That, in itself, is perfectly reasonable, and it's a sentiment that only grew stronger around the league in the past year, when the Miami Heat built an immediate superpower and the Knicks were conspiring to make their own by 2012.
What the NBA owners truly want -- and this doesn't mean every individual owner is insisting upon this, but as a group they're lumped together -- is a business model that guarantees profits.
Think about that for a second. What other business in the world can you go into that will actually guarantee you make money from it? Not just a likelihood, but a virtual guarantee that you will come out in the black every year.
That's essentially what the owners are trying to construct here with the new collective bargaining agreement.
That's what happens when the Golden State Warriors -- not the Knicks, not the Bulls, not the Heat, but the Golden State Warriors -- are sold for a record $450 million despite the fact that the Warriors aren't one of the glamour franchises in the league. The league is now fighting to ensure those big spenders are paid off for their hefty new investment, even though they bought into a league that has been claiming overall losses for the past several years.
If it wasn't obvious before, it's only more obvious now that that's the case, because the owners are reportedly willing to concede things like a hard cap and salary rollbacks if it means they get a significantly larger portion of basketball revenues in a league that only figures to continue its recent boom.
And here's why it's so easy to side with the players in this mess: Because they began these negotiations already conceding to the owners despite that side's backward reasoning.
The players, from Day One, have discussed giving up percentages of their share of the basketball related income. It's the players who came into these negotiations hoping simply to maintain any semblance of the status quo -- a system that, by the way, made the NBA more money this past season than any season before it.
But here the players are being convinced to take even less than they're conceding, and all the while being told they're being too greedy.
They're already, as a group, taking a pay cut. All they're trying to do at this point is limit just how much they're going to lose. Any working man would fight for the same thing.
So here we are, the outsiders, wondering why something as simple as a 50-50 split of the basketball revenues can't be agreed upon. And surely most people blame the players for wanting the bigger cut.
It's not that simple. It's never that simple.
And, frankly, the players union has a much stronger case for holding its ground.
The two sides are essentially just a couple of percentage points from coming to an agreement. And when you break that down, they're haggling over about $90 million a year.
Split that up between 30 owners, and it's basically pocket change. Give that amount to the players, and you're talking meaningful dollars for some of the lower-salary players in the league -- the ones who are rarely talked about in these broad discussions about lockout resolutions.
As much as it pains this NBA diehard to admit, the players need to hang on as long as they can to get something resembling a fair deal -- even if it means LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will only be playing in charity games for the next couple months.
It's not the easy side to take. But it is the most sensible.