That neither the NBA players nor the league's owners may be particularly well received at the moment by fans during an ongoing lockout isn't lost on Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love.
Moreover, he understands that perspective.
"It's hard to pick a side when it's billionaires fighting against millionaires," conceded Love. "I mean, it's no secret that's what's going on here. I think in any lockout, people are gonna be disheartened in that way, because that is the case."
Love, along with Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin, both on hand for the opening of South, a new 3D sports bar in Santa Monica, Calif., expressed concern about alienating the league's fan base. The stalled negotiations have already negated the first two weeks of the season and on Thursday, commissioner David Stern said failure to resolve the myriad of issues by Tuesday could lead to games canceled through Christmas.
"It's disappointing we can't be out there playing," said Griffin. "We're nothing without our fans. The fans make the game and we want to be out there playing for them."
"They're what drives us and who we play for," added Love. "We really enjoy and love our fans, and they're why we do what we do."
With that in mind, both hoped the plethora of games popping up around the country between NBA players would help satisfy the fans, even as an unofficial substitute. Last Sunday's Drew League-Goodman League showdown at The Pyramid in Long Beach played to an enthusiastic crowd, and Griffin will be among the NBA headliners at a Cox Convention Center game on Oct. 23 in his hometown of Oklahoma City.
"Just the simple message that we want to play and we're ready to play," said Griffin when asked about the games' message to fans.
"I think a lot of players have been doing a good job of keeping the slogan up that basketball never dies," said Love. "And with all these games they've been playing, trying to integrate the fans and really keep them focused and keep them happy with basketball.
"It might not be NBA basketball, but you're getting a chance to see a lot of NBA players in these games. Just trying to keep them excited as much as possible, so when the time comes, we're right where we left off as far as the fan base goes."
Love also expressed awareness of a bigger picture than simply the fate of athletes and the men who sign their checks.
"Any time that we miss from here on out is disheartening. Not only for the players or for the owners, but all the way down through the NBA," he said. "All the jobs that are lost and the paychecks that are missed. Not only for us or the owners, but for the concessions or people working ticket sales. People working the whole game. Really, the front office all the way down through the trainers and the equipment managers and the ball boys ... all the people that work those games for us and really help drive our business."
Still, both players emphasized the need to stand firm until the right deal comes along.
"We have to wait for a deal that's fair for both sides," insisted Griffin. "It's not just about the players. It's about the guys that are coming after us and the guys that are about to retire. So we're gonna stand together."
"We have to do what's best for us and if that's to hold out, then that's what we have to do," noted Love. "We're looking forward to getting a good deal and hoping that can work out for both sides."
Neither Griffin nor Love will be town for Friday's players meeting in Los Angeles, although Griffin said he's sought out the relevant information from the people coordinating it. Both players expressed some hope a federal mediator at next week's negotiations could result in meaningful progress, although neither appeared outwardly confident, either.
Andrew Kamenetzky is a co-author of the Land O' Lakers blog for ESPNLosAngeles.com.