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10 Oct 2011

NBA: Last chance to save the day.

League officials and Players' Union representatives will meet Monday in New York in a final attempt to thrash out a deal that would save the start of the 2011-12 NBA season.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Union President Derek Fisher will both be in attendance, Fisher also invited all NBA players to attend the critical meeting. If a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is not agreed upon at least in principle, Stern says he will have no choice but to cancel the opening two weeks of the season.

The main (and perhaps only) sticking point is the proposed split of Basketball Related Income (BRI). The Players' got a 57% share under the old CBA, and refuse to come below 53% in any new proposal. The League and Owners have drawn their line in the sand at a 50-50 split. 2011-12's projected BRI is $4bn, meaning that the 3% being fought over is 'just' $120 million, earning the players $2.12 billion. If the players and owners do not reach agreement today, the first two weeks of games will be zapped from the calender. That would cost the players a hefty sum of money in wages. Billy Hunter, executive director of the Union, alleged that the players would lose $350 million for each month of the season killed by the lockout.

Essentially, if the players lost a month of the season, they would need to up their split demand to 58% to guarantee the $2.12bn they are after today. To even get what is currently offered at 50-50 would mean the players would need to up their demand to 54.5%. Going by this (complicated) maths, the players and owners are being incredibly narrow-minded over this whole affair.

Instead of bickering over such an arbitrary number as 3% of BRI, why not agree to the equal share of 50% and focus on providing another sterling season of Basketball? 2010-11 was one of the best in history and not just for the on-court skills we witnessed. Lebron James' "Decision" made the Miami Heat must-watch TV, Derrick Rose's rags-to-riches rise to MVP status made the Bulls a team you couldn't miss and then we had the complete surprise package in the Playoffs, the Mavericks, sweeping the Lakers and ousting the star-studded Heat to lift their first-ever NBA Championship.

Why give up a continuation of that amazing season for such a relatively small amount of money? If the players and owners agreed they could make the current $4bn pie even bigger for themselves next time around.

One thing's for certain, Monday's meeting is absolutely crucial to the fate of the season.


Around the League
NBA fans seem to be the forgotten entity in this lockout saga. While millionaire players and billionaire owners bicker and whinge over an amount of money that the common person dreams about having, the rest of the world is suffering. Owners are constantly cranking up prices of the NBA games that people love to watch. The fans come to the games to get away from their daily lives, to forget about things like money and the recession. Now when they log onto their basketball websites or turn on the television to watch at some basketball, recession and money has taken over their old safe haven. No matter the outcome, the fans will never come out of a lockout with a more favourable opinion of either side.

6 Oct 2011

NBA: No deal reached, first fortnight of 2011-12 Regular Season facing cancellation.

It started with some brave smiles, a little hope and a lot of optimism.

Tuesdays' crucial NBA Labor negotiations ended when both owners and players left their Manhattan boardroom with disappointment written all over their faces. The talks ground to a halt once more over the proposed split of Basketball Related Income (BRI). The agreement that expired saw the players take a 57% share of BRI, which equated to a figure of roughly $2.18bn per year. In the present, the owners maintain their stance that a 57% share going to the players is unsustainable, citing $300 million in losses as their motivation for wanting a fairer (read - more in favor of the owners) deal.

The owners side, fronted by NBA Commissioner David Stern (who is bound to come in for some harsh criticism if he allows the Regular Season to be affected by the labor dispute) and his associated band of owners and lawyers officially proposed a 52-48% split in favor of the players, a major concession from their previous stance of 47% share going to the players, a stance that they claimed would not change. Their decision in moving off of this sparked off optimism that a deal could be reached Tuesday.

The Players' Union (NBPA) however became the sticking block as they moved from their previous 'lowest possible' offer of 54% down to 53%, another move that allowed optimism to creep in.

The two sides seem to be close to accepting the loss of Regular Season games. The losses for both would total into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This fact is what makes Inside Sports believe that a deal could be reached before Stern's Monday deadline for saving the November 1st season opener. If the two sides, who were once a full $800 million apart on proposed deals, are just one BRI percentage point away from each other then logic would dictate that both sides would be willing to compromise for that one percent rather than lose such a vast sum of money from lost games.

One hot topic that came out of the boardroom was the League's 50-50% split that was allegedly offered. The leak came from Stern, and it infuriated the players who claimed that the leak painted them in a bad light (if that were still possible). The deal that was officially offered was one that saw the players get 50% of BRI but also allowed them to garner up to 53% if their contracts included the correct clauses. If this deal was really on the table then someone somewhere must have had their minds on their coffers rather than the game.

In the end, a deal will likely be formed in the 50-53% range that favors the players. And then, just maybe, we can get back to what we all want most. A bit of basketball.