By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Oct 15, 2011 at 12:02 PM

I am normally a very peaceful man.

But, over the years I've been involved in a dozen fights or so. Bar brawls and street fights. I've lost some and won some, but I've learned how to throw a punch with the best of them.

And the next punch I throw is going to be at the next guy who comes up to me and says "who cares if the NBA lockout goes on. It's a dying sport, anyhow and fans don't care."

There's an old saying. "Ignorance is temporary. Stupid is forever." This one is to the forever club.

Just because you saw some games where the stadium wasn't full, just because you didn't get jacked up every time a game got played and just because you sometimes drifted off while watching a game in your man cave, doesn't mean this sport is dying.

From a spectator and fan standpoint, the NBA has never been healthier.

Last year the ratings for NBA games were great. They were up 42% on TNT, 38% on ABC and 28% on ESPN. Attendance at games was almost 17,500 per game, a measurable increase over the previous year.

Those in the forever stupid club suggest that those attendance numbers are skewed by the big, romantic teams like the Lakers and the Heat. Well, let's just take a close look at the local situation.

If you use multipliers to create relatively equal attendance bases, then the Milwaukee Bucks, who had a forgettable season, drew only about 3,000 fewer fans per game than did the Milwaukee Brewers, who had the most memorable season in the club's history. If they played in the same size stadium, the Brewers averaged about 37,000 fans a game and the Bucks would have averaged about 34,000.

Fans were going to those games in the dead of winter.

People talk about the exorbitant prices of basketball tickets. Sure, courtside seats cost a lot. But you can take a family of four to a Bucks game and spend less money than the lowest price for a Brewers' game.

The NBA business model is screwed up. No doubt about it. Somehow they need to have some way to bring salaries into the realm of reality. Somehow they need a way to get out of contracts that pay huge amounts to players who are injured or whose ripe date has passed (Michael Redd, last year, $18 million). They need to share revenues.

They need to look at the NFL. The most successful sports league in history got that way with one word. PARITY! Pete Rozelle convinced everyone that the league would truly be much stronger as long as every team had a relatively equal chance to win. He didn't think, and the NFL owners agreed, that money should be the determining factor when it came to the race for the title.

I'm not really on anybody's side on this. About the only thing I'm against is the people, including a bevy of sportswriters, who grab onto the low hanging fruit and write and talk about the apathy that afflicts the NBA. Your neighbor may feel that way. You may feel that way. But to actually say it out loud, as if it's a fact, ignores the real facts in this issue.

Basketball is a great game and the NBA is the greatest basketball in the world. We are lucky to have a team in this town and we should cherish that sport.

Like the man said. "Ignorance is temporary. Stupid is forever."

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.