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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.


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