David Stern's version of the "Ponzi Scheme" — having accountants moving money around for years with the knowledge that eventually you'd be caught — is over.
The National Basketball Association as we've known it since Larry Bird and Magic Johnson saved it three decades ago is over.
Crummy (and I mean crummy) players making $12 million — see late season acquisition Troy Murphy in 2010-11, who couldn't crack the Celtics disappointing rotation during crunch time in April and May — has finally caught up with the league.
I don't meant to pick on Murphy. From what I'm told, the Notre Dame grad is a nice guy. There are dozens of others, including phony-baloney all-star Antwan Jamison, who has raked in $124 million over his 12-year career. Over that span, this franchise player has "led" his four teams to three playoff series victories. That's right. Three series.
I forgot to mention Jamison will be paid $15.1 million this year as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is more than $2 million than Tom Brady will make this season.
Oh yes, because Jamison is in the last year of his contract he will be a hot commodity, even though his points, rebounds and assists numbers have begun their immediate descent. NBA teams want expiring contracts almost as much as they want a franchise player. It means you can start preparing for the season the season after this one.
I will admit that the NBA playoffs have been very good the last half-dozen or so years. Yes, I'm being a tad provincial because our Boston Celtics have been in the mix.
But the storylines between Celtics vs. Lakers, Celtics vs. LeBron, power struggle between Lakers, Spurs and Mavs in the West, emergence of Kevin Durant, etc. ... have caught most of the country's attention.
The problem is that while we a lot of us were rooting against the Lakers and the New Big Three, most of the NBA's franchises lost money.
Which makes this lockout much different from the one we saw the National Football League oversee the last four months. The NFL has never been more prosperous. Everybody is making millions. That "lockout" came from strength. The NFL was in a position to tell the players a thing or two about where the future is taking them and, in the end, the players had give in a little.
The NBA lockout is a disaster-in-waiting.
Which brings us to Commissioner Stern.
While Stern gets most of the credit for marketing the league in ways his predecessor Larry O'Brien couldn't comprehend, wasn't it really Bird and Magic who marketed the league?
Stern replaced O'Brien in 1984 right in the midst of the Celtics-Lakers explosion. Bird, Magic and, to some extent, Julius Erving, were can't miss TV on Sundays at noon on CBS.
Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal picked up where those guys left off and Stern got his Manhattan pals to buy more stock into the NBA, even in some unforgettable times (the late 1990s).
Since then, Stern has broadened the NBA dollar to Europe and Asia, which hosts about five billion of the world's seven billion residents. Some might argument that the NBA is as big outside of our country as it is inside.
But even those dollars, in these tough economic times around the world, are apparently drying up.
Stern has had to have known this for a long time, at least since the turn of the century, that the NBA was destined for this mess where a few hundred players make more money than most of the 32 owners.
Yesterday was an important day in this realization. Yesterday Stern, through his Manhattan minions, said he wasn't going to take a salary during the lockout.
That is both funny and sad.
It is estimated (or alleged) that Stern made $23 million last year. The fact that he averaged about $2 million in the 1980s and about $5 million in the 1990s, it's safe to guess Stern has collected between $200-$250 million as commissioner.
Remember, this is David Stern, not radio shock-jock Howard Stern.
Stern is not going to take his salary? Have you ever heard of a more self-righteous act? Like it really matters?
I have some cheap advice for Stern. Take the $25 million (I added $2 million for inflation) and run to the nearest bank and deposit it. You deserve it. You've earned it.
And, most of all, unlike the Mr. Ponzi Scheme himself, Bernie Madoff, you did it legally.
It's time to go away so we can blow some of this up and start all over again and cross our fingers that Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose can do the Bird-Magic thing all over again.