Labor Day signals the end of summer, a transitional time when kids return to school, temperatures (hopefully) begin to cool and football reasserts itself as the modern national pastime. Once upon a time, it also meant a celebration of the American worker. But these days it seems the only time we hear much about labor is on SportsCenter. The 2011 NFL season was in doubt for much of the year after the league locked out its players in March, but the two sides agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in July, bringing a collective sigh of relief to Las Vegas sports-book operators. And now another group of locked-out pro athletes is preparing for an endless summer—and they’re planning to spend it in Las Vegas.
With the NBA lockout unlikely to end anytime soon, many of its stars will be competing in a league at the Impact Basketball training facility on East Sunset Road and Gilespie Street beginning Sept. 12 (see Impact Basketball League). The league, an extension of the training sessions already conducted by Impact Basketball owner Joe Abunassar, will last two weeks—possibly longer if the lockout persists—and such standouts as Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin reportedly plan to take part.
The average annual NBA salary is more than $5 million, but during the lockout nobody gets paid. That’s why erstwhile Boston Celtics guard Delonte West recently made news by applying for a job at the Home Depot. After Nevada’s long, hot political spring and summer, when organized workers from teachers to firefighters were regularly lambasted by our editorial writers and populist politicians, it’s ironic to see that our next small step in diversification is as a haven for displaced union workers.
And if they happen to have a 48-inch vertical leap, that’s all the better.