NEW YORK CITY -- We're nowhere near excitement today.
We're not basking in the afterglow of a thrilling Heat win against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, which would have happened Wednesday night if common sense ruled the NBA. Of course, it could have been a disappointing Heat loss, too, but given how polarizing this Heat team still is, that would have only made the conversation more emotional.
We're not discussing the obvious look of determination on LeBron James' face in his first real game since the Finals disaster, or his new postgame or his retreating hairline.
We're not revisiting Chris Bosh versus Amare Stoudemire, not marveling over Dwyane Wade for an ninth straight season opener, not acknowledging that Udonis Haslem is just as tough without the cornrows.
No, we're not preparing for the Heat's home opener, waiting for what surely would have been an absolutely brilliant show, because even when this team was bad it found a way to delight when it was time to.
We should be doing all of those things.
There's an obvious, tired, increasingly ridiculous reason that we're not.
It's almost as if it took the actual games to be missed before we recognized just how idiotic the tail end of this labor irrationality really is.
Sure, in reality, two percent is about $80 million a year, and over the course of, say, a seven-year collective bargaining agreement (there's no way it should last 10 years), that would translate to about $560 million, which is an insane amount of money to consider giving up on.
But the truth is, it's hard to imagine who would be feeling that hit today, tomorrow or even next few years. Of course, it's the principle that these players are fighting for as much as the money. But if the league continues to thrive during the next several years the way it did last year, and revenues continue to increase, then players won't be taking a salary cut. They simply won't be getting raises at the rate they're used to, and at the rate owners will be because of their increased cut. And for the stability of the league, that could end up being the better option.
Now, that's not to say the players don't have every right to stand firm at their current 52 percent demand. They have, after all, given up so much already and are only asking for a fair fight.
But when we have reached this point -- when we have discovered the actual emptiness of weeks without basketball instead of just the threat of it -- then it becomes a lot more difficult to see the fight for what it's worth.
And frankly, if this continues any longer than it already has, the players would be lucky if the league doesn't take a significant revenue hit over the next couple years because of the bitter backlash from just this month of lost games.
This is just a guess here, but if it came down to a poll of all the current NBA players, with only a majority needed to decide it, the players would probably vote to accept the 50-50 proposition the owners are offering. And surely, the union would find one last crumb to hold onto to say they weren't absolutely trampled in the "negotiations."
See, it's depressing, not to mention frustrating in its repetition, to fall into discussion rather than what should have been happening today.
This home opener for the Heat against free-agent-to-be Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic would have had additionally juicy elements to it because of a second large, opinionated man that would've been working next to Charles Barkley on TNT Thursday night.
Shaquille O'Neal would have not only had a lot to say about Howard, but he would have had plenty to discuss regarding his comments about former teammate LeBron James in his new book.
In the book, O'Neal said James didn't listen to his then-head coach, Mike Brown, and that Brown and the rest of the Cavaliers organization walked on eggshells around LeBron because they feared his departure via free agency.
It would have made for an even more interesting backdrop to a phenomenal night of basketball.
But rather than watching Micky Arison cheer alongside his son and new CEO Nick, we're arguing the merits of the elder's $500,000 fine from the league over some perfectly honest and relatively harmless tweets.
NBA commissioner David Stern said he fined Arison because the tweets created "external distractions."
Not exactly sure how to put this, commish, but there's not a whole lot going on from which to be distracted. No negotiations. Certainly no basketball. All Arison did was let the people know where to direct their anger. And frankly, there should be a giant arrow pointing at your head every minute of the day until this lockout is officially over.
So no, we're not discussing the merits of Wade's very poignant comment during his interview on Mike Krzyzewski's radio show Tuesday night. The one in which he noted the Heat was trying to win last season to "spite people," and that's why his team didn't win a championship.
Instead of noticing the joy that was regularly absent from the Heat last season, we're staring at the angry faces of Derek Fisher, Adam Silver and Billy Hunter and watching file footage of Mark Cuban goofily walking into New York hotel lobbies with a grin on his face, because he knows this whole debacle is at least extending his championship afterglow.
This wasn't written on a crowded press row at the Garden. There was no buzz. Instead of players benefiting from the timely resolution to this conflict, they will be begging for forgiveness once it's over, and likely losing money as a result.
But hey, it's all worth it, right?