The only sad aspect of the labor deal between the NBA's owners and players is that reaching an agreement never should have taken this long.
There's no reason the season could not have started in late October as scheduled, no need for the talks to have become so exhausting and allowed fans to become disinterested or even bitter toward pro basketball.
So now the games will begin two months later than usual and the schedule will be compressed, causing other complications. Yet mixed with some sense of disgust that the process lasted as long as it did, I'm thrilled for everybody who would have been affected by the Jazz's continued absence from EnergySolutions Arena in 2011-12.
The fans, the arena's part-time employees and the downtown business owners who depend on game-night traffic are the reasons I wanted this lockout to end. And I'm not talking only about fans who buy tickets and attend games, although they deserve to have the organization treat them particularly well this season.
In Utah, there's such a huge following of the Jazz among fans whose only connection to the team is through televised games. They're the fabric of this market, the reason the Jazz resonate throughout this state. In recent years, I've learned so many stories of fans whose lives were tied to the team, and I've realized how valuable the Jazz are to us.
Utah needs the Jazz to play basketball, beyond any economic factors. The team is a unifier, a rallying point, and when the players return to the court in late December, the questions about the development of the team's young players and the ability of the new coach will become broad conversation topics again.
It's time to start finding out how Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are coming along, how much can be expected of Enes Kanter and how coach Tyrone Corbin can make it all come together. Those are much better subjects than basketball-related income and other divisive labor issues, right?