Missed It By That Much

5 10 2011

Towards the end of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon’s discussion on the NBA lockout, he stated, “A league that so many people were so thrilled to see start play, will stay dark indefinitely.” What a perfect but depressing summary of the current situation.

After multiple meetings throughout the past two weeks, the owners and players had their most significant meeting (if you can even call it that with how little they are actually together) yesterday in New York. The cancellation of the rest of the preseason took place, and NBA commissioner David Stern also pointed out that if a deal is not made by this coming Monday, the first two weeks of the NBA season must be cancelled.

While Stern has made it known that the owners have backed off their demand for a hard salary cap and their stipulation for lower salaries, to nobody’s surprise, the basketball-related income (BRI) – or revenues for short – is still the main problem. It’s amazing that as far back as July, this dilemma was apparent, and yet significant progress hasn’t been made over the months since then.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the players brought to the table a new percentage of BRI for themselves – 53 – which differs from last year’s percentage of 57. The players stated that the owners countered with a shift from their previously proposed 46 percent to 47. Once the owners made this minimal increase, the meeting was practically over as the players scoffed at the their unwillingness to find a happy medium.

Stern and a select few that have not been identified, got together afterwards, and Stern brought up a “50-50” split idea regarding BRI. However, while he and others were in the process of putting this idea together, executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher made it clear this would not be an acceptable proposal.

Sources pointed out that the owners actually put forward a plan that offered players 49 percent of BRI that would eventually become 51 percent with the growth of the league. The players’ counter was 51 percent with an increase to 53 percent based on league growth. The owners did not accept this offer.

No further meetings have been scheduled to take place in the near future.

So, here we are… again. Another national sports league going down to the wire, trying (or so they say) to put some form of a deal together so that the players of the league can get out there and play. When the last sport was face to face with a possibly shattered season about seven months ago, they came together and willingly made a compromise that benefitted both sides.

Will David Stern continue to let this season become one that is not?

One of the first things to grab my attention in this lockout is the current lackadaisical approach coming from both sides, especially with the Monday deadline fast approaching. Right before the NFL got a deal done, they were getting together almost every single day, pushing through in an attempt to end the lockout so America could be ready for some football. There was clear determination from both sides, and Robert Kraft, who lost his wife during the home stretch of the bargaining, never stopped giving his valuable time and full effort toward accomplishing a deal.

The fact that no meetings are scheduled to occur soon proves to me that both sides care more about getting what they want than making sure the 2011-2012 NBA season takes place. Isn’t this supposed to be where amazing happens? I strongly believe that the only way major leaps in progress can be made is if both sides get together and do the necessary bargaining. How can anything be accomplished if the two sides fail to consistently talk to each other? I see this as a huge detriment for the lockout. It’s sad to see these sides have such alacrity toward letting the start of the season be cancelled. Even if the players and the owners have no intentions of budging on their stances, it would help with their public perception if they at least showed some effort leading up to Monday.

It was clear Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, was fighting for a deal during their lockout. Even though he was on the side of the owners, he knew his players wanted to play with the pigskin on national television, and he successfully made a deal happen.

David Stern, on the other hand, has an image of being a “bully” and right now, that impression seems justified. He is obviously the prominent force for the owners and is leading them in the direction he deems necessary. When the players countered with their deal that was only two percent higher than the owners’ deal, Stern wasn’t afraid to make it known that the owners’ answer was definitively  “no.” There is a deal on the table right now that would allow small market teams to be competitive – which is something they’ve been harping on for months now – so why stress over these extra millions? If Stern could step down from his pedestal for a few seconds and work with his owners to put together a deal the players will accept, the NBA community would be greatly appreciative.

As stated earlier, the owners offered a 49-51 percent BRI for the players, while the players offered 51-53 percent. If you take the medians of these two, you get 50 and 52 as the two percentages. This is only a two percent difference in an issue that used to have over a ten percent difference. This can’t be anything but a good sign, right?

“Do not back down” is something that the players’ side continues to emphasize. However, this philosophy has been present since Tuesday’s meeting more than ever before. In a letter to the union yesterday regarding the owners’ proposal, Hunter and Fisher wrote, “The clear message we have received from the players, and the one we will heed, is not to back down…Yesterday, the owners gave us an opportunity to back down. We refused.” With this attitude, it is clear the players are standing at the edge of their bargaining cliff and will not jump.

Even though the disparity in revenue distribution is down from the billions evident at the beginning of the lockout to the millions it is at currently, it looks like the two percentage points will be enough to keep the league locked up. Frustration is the only way to describe how I feel about this. Yes, this is a business, and both sides are trying to get the best possible deal, but are the two sides really going to get so close and then go no further? Are they going to come this close only to throw away the key to this lockout? Based upon the rejections from both sides and the obstinate tone in their voices currently, I see a looming probability of the cancellation of NBA games.

Let’s say that the NBA does cancel the start of the season. Obviously, saving the later part of the season will be a priority. However, if NBA players do in fact go overseas, what happens when a major meeting takes place, and the large core of the NBA is all around the world, playing basketball in their respective countries? Do both sides go through with the bargaining process without them? I don’t think any progress could be made; however, say a deal does in fact occur and we have a second half to the season similar to the 1999 NBA season. Will the players simply get up and leave or will their respective teams allow them to come back home? I know many would probably come back to play, but I can see many finishing what they started.

What do we do now? We sit and wait. I believe if a deal does not get done before Monday, a large chunk of the season should be considered gone. Once those first few weeks are cancelled, expect the absence of roundball to roll over into many more weeks and possibly months. I would love nothing more than a full NBA season to occur, but since that is looking more and more unlikely, I am prepared to experience the five stages of grief.

Ignite the Site!




6 responses

15 11 2011
Same ol’ Story « jay's jems

[…] I sound like a broken record and am probably repeating a lot of the things I said from one of my posts in October, but I can’t help but be baffled about one aspect of this lockout: the lack of a […]

27 10 2011
A Hard Day’s Night « jay's jems

[…] a 52-48 split. (Even though I still believe this stubbornness about a few percentage points is ridiculous, I would like to point out 1-2 percentage points translate to a difference of 150-250 million […]

14 10 2011
Trevor Rathbun

Great article Jay. What a sad world we live in now days, people cant even agree on how to split BILLIONS of dollars. The question I have had in my head since this whole debate started is, where did the love for the game go? I understand that everyone has to make money to function and survive in this world, and that there are thousands of jobs at stake because of the lockout, but where did everyones drive and passion towards basketball go? Players and owners alike are both guilty in terms of greed. I think both sides should step back and reflect on their college and high school years when they didnt get paid a dime to play the sport, and comapre it to the passion they had then to the passion they have now. I bet they would be surprised about how much they value their money rather than just being a solid team and putting a banner up over their heads. It saddens me to say this, but players and owners alike have seemed to develop this “Its all good as long as a get mine” attitude. As Lil Wayne once said, “Money is the Motive”, and apparently it is to everyone in the NBA.
The NFL and the NFLPA did a much better job at getting their business done so they could play the game. The NBA and their players seem to not care, because the NBA thinks that the players cant survive without them, and the players think the NBA wont survive without them. Its a lose-lose situation. They need eachother. Just like the basketball needs the hoop in order for the game to even exist. The players will go overseas. They will have no choice. And the NBA, to counter act all the susperstars leaving, could possibly bring up all the NBA D-League players and resume the season, with scrubs (No Offesne to all the NBA D-Leaguers). Kobe Bryant got offered $2 Million for ONE GAME. ONE GAME. Yes, that is ridiculous. That is how hard all these international teams are trying to pull all the superstars away from the NBA.
In the end, if they dont agreee soon, I think the NBA season will be lost with the potential of the NBA all together being lost due to these international teams stealing away the players.
Greed is the main determinate here. How sad it makes me as a passionate basketball fan and follwer to see a whole league consumed by their own desire for money.

8 10 2011

This is David Stern’s problem. The only way it is going to be solved anytime soon is if he can make it happen. I featured him in my most recent post. Good article!

6 10 2011

Wow, love the post Jay! Keep up the good work!

5 10 2011

great piece here. love the article, love the specifics, love the angle. but at the same time, i find it hard to blame the players over the owners. the owners already make their money from others’ talents. it is the players who grind their knees to nothing, the players that risk injuries every night, and the players who are subject to taunts and hazing from the crowd. their demands are slightly ridiculous, and there’s no reason that a 53-47 split favoring them is unacceptable. again, though, love the article. great work here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: