There has been little reason to be optimistic throughout this NBA Lockout. Even though many will continue to take this stance, I honestly have changed my ways and become an optimist.
The NBA players and owners got together for a meeting on Wednesday and ended up talking for more than 15 hours, going past 3 a.m. ET. They will return to the table at 2 p.m. today to continue discussions.
As they are obviously told to do so until there is an official agreement, Derek Fisher and David Stern were ambiguous with their answers and would not provide any specifics about the meeting.
The revenue split is still the prevalent problem between the two sides as the owners think the 50-50 split is reasonable and the players want a 52-48 split. (Even though I continue to 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 dollars a year, so you can form your own opinion on the matter.)
The first two weeks of the NBA season (which would have started November 1st) have already been cancelled, and the following two weeks are also in danger of being cancelled if something is not figured out soon.
Even though nothing about this lockout looks different from the surface, I see reasons to be hopeful.
When discussing how progress was made, Fisher said there was “obvious enough [progress] for us to come back.” It’s hard for me to ignore the fact that after meeting an entire 15 hours, they are going to meet again in less than 12 hours. There have been multiple times when the two sides won’t meet for many days because they get so frustrated with each other or feel as though they are just running in circles. To go as long as they did yesterday and to be insistent on meeting again today shows there has to be hope.
Many might point out that just one week ago there was a 16-hour meeting that then turned into complete turmoil. The meeting the very next day ended with Derek Fisher calling deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt “liars.” However, there is one vital difference between last week and this week – David Stern. He will be present at the meeting today. Last week, Stern was unable to attend the follow-up meeting because he had to go home with the flu. As I’ve stated before, Stern controls the owners. Without him, I don’t see any other outcome than the meeting falling to pieces. So this time, with him there, I expect progress to happen.
The basketball related income (BRI) or revenue sharing has in fact not been figured out yet, which could lead to some doubting that progress has been made. Something David Stern said yesterday made me believe otherwise. “I think we’ll turn to the split when we finish with the system…right now, it has been profitable to turn to the system.” If Stern truly means what he is saying, he couldn’t have given us better news. This goes against what so many people have been harping on – the two sides’ inability to split up the revenues. By saying “we’ll turn to,” Stern gives the idea that it hasn’t even been a point of discussion of late, while they sort through other problems. If the two sides are about 2 percentage points apart and have not even been covering the topic recently, once the “system” is figured out, they will be so close to a deal, I can’t see them being unable to divvy up these last few percentage points.
I realize I am unable to be 100% unbiased about this lockout; I love the sport of basketball and have always enjoyed watching NBA games. Yet, I just see too many signs pointing towards an unlocking of this lockout. I will even go so far as to say that by next weekend, I expect the National Basketball Association to be back in business.
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