Tommy Heinsohn Calls NBA Lockout ‘Ridiculous,’ Discusses Possibility of Contraction


The NBA players rejected commissioner David Stern's offer on Tuesday, casting even more doubt over whether there will be a season. And as the lockout continues, some are becoming a little bit skeptical, including Celtics great Tommy Heinsohn.

Heinsohn voiced his displeasure with the current lockout at a Q&A session for the upcoming Broadway play Magic Bird.

"This thing here, to me, is ridiculous," he said. "For the last two years, we've been seeing in certain cities and towns that were mainstays, like Detroit, like Washington, like Philadelphia, where there weren't people in the seats. Now, I always thought the players were pretty smart and observant. Well, where do they think they're getting paid from? All right, so they never really observed that. And I think right now, when I was president and organized the players' association way back in the '60s, late '60s, we had the benefit of the game. We wanted to leave the game for the next generation of players in good shape, with something to look forward to. I'm not so sure that's what's going on now."

Heinsohn's response, which came after a question regarding how the likes of Larry Bird or Magic Johnson would have handled a situation similar to today's back when they were players, drew an applause from the 40 or so people in attendance for the Q&A at West End Johnnie's in Boston.

Jackie MacMullan, a former columnist for The Boston Globe and current writer for, said she understood where Heinsohn was coming from, but asked, "At what time do the owners have to say, 'Listen, we are losing money.' OK, so the players need to go back. But if you're an owner, why should the players save you from yourself?"

Heinsohn responded, "Oh that's bogus. That is bogus. That is bogus. I'll tell you what, because the last time out, they were just, they handed everything to the players because they thought they could do it. OK, They did. They gave them a heck of a deal for all those years."

The two, who remained in good spirits throughout the evening, also addressed whether contraction should be considered. MacMullan was in favor of it, saying that it's "exactly what the NBA needs," although she notes that it's become a somewhat dirty word in sports. Heinsohn pointed out that the talent pool in the league drops with the more teams there are.

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