The National Basketball Association is losing big in the court of public opinion. The damage will be compounded if the 2011-12 season is lost, which appears to be a real possibility after the latest breakdown in negotiations.

Neither the owners nor the players should look here for sympathy. Instead, they should look out their tinted windows to get a sense of how absurd their dispute seems in the context of the times.

Owners: See the rising anger at the callousness of the 1 percent? That’s you.

Players: See the people struggling to stay employed and keep their homes out of foreclosure? Those are the fans who dig deep for $60 tickets and $10 beers that help cover your seven-figure salaries.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has suggested the league was on the brink of a “nuclear winter” without pro basketball.

What really should scare players and owners is the possibility that casual fans won’t come to think of it as a “nuclear winter,” but the winter they discovered other great pastimes of the season.

— San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 16

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