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At What Point Does Barack Obama Get Involved In The Lockout?

With NBA labor talks having apparently stalled, it’s looking more like at least part of the season will be cancelled.  And with that, comes the reality that thousands of people will have to find other ways to make money.  Bar and restaurant owners, arena workers, and other businesses that depend on NBA games to bring much needed customers in will have to find other ways to make ends meet.

That’s never a good thing, but it’s especially bad in this economy.  With people not only receiving unemployment benefits, but exhausting them, a high-profile fight between the uber-rich that costs people minimum wage jobs doesn’t look good. 

Enter President Barack Obama. 

If the lockout can’t get resolved at some point in the near future, you can almost certainly expect some sort of political intervention.  First of all, we all know Obama is a huge basketball fan.  So there’s no doubt he’s paying attention to what’s happening to his favorite sport.  He knows full well what’s going on. 

Secondly, he’s fighting for re-election.  His poll numbers are down and stepping in to help middle class families get their jobs back by ending a fight between billionaires and multi-millionaires might help him look good.  There’s nothing politicians love more than easy wins that boost their political profile. 

The question is, when will Obama get involved?  If both sides really don’t meet on Monday, and David Stern announces regular-season games will be lost, will Obama start lighting a fire under both sides?  Will he make a public comment to let the NBA know he’s watching and pushing for a settlement sooner rather than later?  Or will he wait to see if the negotiating tactic works and we reach a settlement without his intervention?

There is one thing that may keep him on the sidelines in this fight:  money.  Some of these owners are among the richest people in America.  He might be counting on some of their money to help his re-election campaign.  Or, at the very least, he may be hesitant to get on the bad side of some of these billionaires for fear of them funding an opponent.  

But as long as he stays neutral, Obama may feel there is no risk to getting involved.  And there is little doubt in my mind that he will at some point. The longer this drags on, the more likely the world’s most powerful NBA fan is to step in and call for an end to the madness.  He’ll get to claim a victory by getting people their jobs back, and he’ll get his, and our, favorite sport back in the process.

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