NBA lockout claims more games
It is now nearing the beginning of November, still the NBA has yet to take the court. As the lockout nears the beginning of its’ fourth month, only in recent days has any progress been made. But wait, NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to make an announcement today!
Are we (the fans) in luck? Will he announce that a deal has been agreed upon? With reports that the sides are getting closer, this wouldn’t seem that far-fetched. But alas, in is not to be. I regret to inform that the announcement is expected to be concerning the cancellation of more games. Our fear that basketball wont begin until after Christmas (if at all this season) is one step closer to being realized.
The fact that in the past two days, the players union and the league and owners have met for a combined 22.5 hours may generate some optimism. But they have seemed close before, and still there is no deal.
It is believed that the two sides are now close on several “system” issues, but that the talks broke down when it came to revenue sharing.
The league is believed to be proposing either a 50-50 split or a 47-52 split in their favor. The players, who received 57 percent of basketball related revenue under the last collective bargaining agreement aren’t believed to be willing to accept anything less than 52 percent.
“(Players Association President) Derek (Fisher) and I made it clear that we could not sell the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we’ve granted,” Union Executive Director Billy Hunter said. “We’ve got to have some dollars.”
The owners appear unwilling to go over 50 percent. With the players holding steadfast as well, it’s hard to foresee anything being agreed upon. The players believe that they are the only of the sides that are willing to negotiate.
“We feel like we’ve made concessions,” said Fisher. “Right now it’s not enough.”
From the owners perspective, many teams are loosing money. If less is going to the players, than more can go to covering costs. Also by allowing less to be spent, it will create less disparity between team’s salaries, which in turn could create more parity in the league, making it more competitive. NBA star’s contracts have gotten out of control, and the individual players have way too much power (i.e. Carmelo Anthony forcing his trade to New York). It may be time to take the power back.
From the players perspective, the NBA created their own monster. No one forced them to offer players obscene amounts of money. Furthermore, the loss numbers from the league proved to be inaccurate. The players are the basis for the league and thus deserve their fair share. The NBA didn’t even pay the full 57 percent that they were required to last year. There is no good faith, therefore the league should feel lucky about the concessions the players have already agreed to. The league has attempted to villainize the players in the press and must show they are willing to sacrifice something to repair the damage that they have already done to the relationships with the players.
The owners believe that the players will concede when they start to feel the sting of not being paid. I believe that there are feasible alternatives. No I am not talking about LeBron playing football (although someone would sign him, if just for the publicity). Several players are playing in China (I wouldn’t recommend this as they don’t allow opt out clauses). Other countries will provide clause in the case of an agreement being reached in the NBA (including Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and Russia). This is a viable option, with sponsors underwriting some of the costs, they are able to pay respectable salaries. In some cases (Kobe Bryant), they are offering ludacris amounts of money for limited amounts of games. This would help to generate more worldwide exposure, and would help to globalize the sport and even the NBA brand long-term.
I believe a better option exists within the United States. As shown through charity games and alternative leagues (i.e. the Drew League) there is still a great amount interest in the sport. Dwight Howard proposed an intriguing alternative when he suggested that the players organize their own league. This play would be covered under NBA contracts’ “love of the game” clauses (thank you Michael Jordan), so the players would be insured. With sponsorships the players could be compensated. I’m sure that someone like ESPN would be willing to pick up the television rights. It would ensure that the players wouldn’t be seen by the public as the villains by giving them basketball. And the players would receive the majority of the revenue, ultimately weakening the owners’ position.
So far the owners have spent a considerable amount of time trying to create disunity in the players union to no avail. In fact, the owners seem to be the more factioned side (hello, Mark Cuban). While I do think that the NBA is way to individualistic, I believe that both sides are taking the wrong approach. The people most hurt by this battle of gigantic egos are the fans. Both sides need to swallow their pride, because right now everyone is coming out losing.
The NHL still has yet to completely recover from losing an entire 2004-2005 season to lockout. The NBA is threatening to go down the same path. Maybe, it is what needs to happen for a more feasible business model to emerge from the ashes. I personally would hate to see digression for the sake of progress. And while I don’t see any end in sight, the fact that the sides are still talking is positive.
“We’re not sure when we’re going to meet again, but we’re hopeful that soon enough we can get back at this and try and close this out,” Fisher said.
We can only hope, along with Fisher that this will be the case. Maybe I’m wrong, and a deal is within reach. I hope that I am. For the sake of the fans, I hope this ends as soon as possible, and when it does I hope it will be the last time in a long while that we have to hear the word “lockout.” At least until the NHL collective bargaining agreement expires next summer.
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