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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.


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