Blog Entry

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Posted on: March 11, 2011 10:56 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:02 pm
A letter sent by Billy Hunter to every NBA player strikes a pessimistic tone following the All-Star Weekend meeting with NBA owners. Posted by Benbilly-hunter Golliver.

Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association and a collection of NBA owners met in Los Angeles during the 2011 All-Star Weekend to discuss the league's upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Following the meeting, NBA commissioner David Stern said the talks were productive and that the two sides understood each other's position, while also admitting that there was still significant work to be done.

On Friday, obtained a letter, dated March 3, sent by NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter to all NBA players. The letter, which is three pages in length, includes Hunter's take on the All-Star Weekend bargaining session. 

While the language isn't particularly surprising, it does take on a noticeably pessimistic and cautionary tone. The letter calls the owners' position "extreme" and notes that the owners' proposal would require "the players' compensation, job security and freedoms [to] recede." King also writes that the players "have quite a fight ahead of us" and that, overall, the All-Star Weekend meeting "accomplished little."

Here is Hunter's overarching summary.
"One point has become clear, and the owners did not shy away from this reality at our meeting; their extreme proposal is not just intended to wipe out their alleged losses. Instead, by their own admission, the owners are seeking in this negotiation to guarantee themselves a significant profit each year. As they made clear at the meeting, they would be making the same demands even if they were not claiming to be losing money. If the owners have their way in this negotiation, regardless of how effective a franchise is managed, each other will be able to use a new 'idiot proof' system to ensure that in addition to the appreciating return on his investment, he will reap millions in profits each year, while the players' compensation, job security and freedoms recede.
"If it hasn't already become clear, we have quite a fight ahead of us. Our meeting at All-Star Weekend accomplished little, but we did agree to continue meeting in good faith in the hope that we can find common ground. I can assure you that we will do everything in our power to reach a fair and equitable deal, and will not rest until the task is accomplished."
One particular sticking point, Hunter writes, is the owners' apparent insistence on instituting a hard salary cap.
"We relayed how their hard cap proposal strikes at the heart of our nearly 30-year history of guaranteed contracts, and how we cannot watch that longstanding culture disappear on our watch. As expected, the owners one again refused to budge. They repeated their claims of heavy losses and claimed that our 57% of Basketball Related Income (BRI) is too high. They insist that the current soft cap system is 'broken' and they need a new system that will create 'more competition' and fan interest."
Given that the meeting in Los Angeles was more an exchange of ideas rather than a formal bargaining session, the fact that there were no immediate concerns is to be expected. But, in his address on the meetings, Stern chose to focus on the fact that the two sides understood each other, while Hunter's letter here makes it clear that, while that may be true, that doesn't necessarily mean the two sides are in the same ballpark on some of the most basic bargaining issues. 

While no one wants to play the role of Chicken Little, it's difficult to read this letter and come away thinking anything but that the two sides are still at the very beginning stages of what is sure to be a protracted and potentially ugly bargaining session. That's not good, because the clock is already ticking.
Category: NBA

Since: Jul 24, 2008
Posted on: March 14, 2011 1:03 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

You can't tell me if Gasol goes to his Barcelona GM and says can Kobe come along they won't jump at it. Plus I'm sure the European leagues can get some sort of emergency TV deal to make up for some of the money and risk of taking on some of the NBA star power. ESPN would jump at that since they won't be getting the NBA games. I think that the only way the NBA makes it is to contract six teams. If they aren't making money now, who is to say they will make money after the salary cap is adjusted. In order to make up for profits lost in years past I doubt the owners lower ticket prices. In the smaller markets those teams are suffering because of attendance due to the financial restraints of the customer. You might as well contract the Raptors now because free agents really aren't going there when salaries get lowered because of the taxes.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: March 13, 2011 6:53 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Let me clarify. I hate David Stern and the referees.  Ray Allen is nearing retirement. I've watched him since he came to this league. He is nowhere near what he used to be. He might outlast Kevin Garnett, but I doubt it. To me it would really suck if this ends their big 3, because it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of the Heat, Bulls, Knicks, and Magic knowing that if they won a championship it will only be because the Celtics got old and not because they got better.

Since: Mar 13, 2011
Posted on: March 13, 2011 10:13 am

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

I like your comment. Maybe we should have a fan-union-- called FU...
I think that would be great. Because tickets to games are crazy.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: March 12, 2011 10:28 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

When some write about NBA players going overseas, there's another twist on things that isn't being mentioned.  Most of the European leagues and the NBA have some sort of reciprocal contract respect.  I believe if FIBA has anything to say about it, the European leagues would not be able to sign NBA players even if they wanted to if the players were under valid contracts.  Free agents would be another story, but not those in the middle of deals.

When the Timberwolves wanted to get Ricky Rubio to come to the US, they had to work out a deal with DKV Joventut to get him out of his deal.  Although Rubio blocked the deal and was swapped to FC Barcelona, the contractual reciprocity was perfectly demonstrated there.  For as much as the T-Wolves wanted Rubio, they had to play nice with the European leagues since he was under contract.  The same would most likely be enforced with players wanted to travel in the other direction across the pond.

Since: Oct 29, 2010
Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:32 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Football or basketball. If you can bet on it, it will be a viable business. At the stadium or on tv, if people can watch their action, they will. Gamblers and fantasy players have kept the popularity of these sports high, even if the product is substandard.

Since: May 14, 2010
Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:14 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Owning a basketball team is a business.  It is expected to turn out a decent profit.  The players and fans have to realize that.  With that being said, I think there really is no choice but to go on a lock-out. The players and owners will have to be reasonable (institue a hard cap and lower the revenue sharing) or the NBA starts from scratch and hires D-leaguers and through the draft for a new world NBA.

Since: Oct 13, 2009
Posted on: March 12, 2011 8:05 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Agree that the European leagues cannot take and will not take many US players, they have their own. Yes having a US star for one season may be of interest, but as stated the insurance for the injury risks will be considerable.

My guess is that if the current NBA players refuse to play under the new "rules" the owners want then the owners will find new players.  The owners can always get players from D league or from the universities.  Think about it, you think the players playing today in NCAA will refuse to play under the new rules? Hell no, this will be their livelihood. So they cannot make as much as today's players can but it sure beats working at Kmart! Yes the current fans will scream blue murder but long term what are the options for the fans?! Boycott? New fans will come, younger people that followed their stars in NCAA will follow them to the NBA.  The game may suffer short term but may gain long term with a more level playing field using a hard cap. 

Since: May 13, 2008
Posted on: March 12, 2011 7:14 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

Owners are scum, rich greedy scum.  No team should be allowed to make "huge" money, any fan would give a nut to run a team and be happy if it only paid bills and put food on the table.  In a perfect world we would have a fan union and not show up to certian areans unless ticket prices drop.  Its hard to have die hard passion for a team win all your team cares about is how much money they can squeze out of honest hard working people.

Since: Feb 18, 2010
Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:51 pm

There should be no guaranteed contacts!

In a time where sports stars are making hundreds of millions of dollars guaranteed regardless of whether they play or not, or course the financial structure is going to be a disaster. Barring not being able to play due to valid injury, no one in professional sports should be guaranteed their money. It will just continue to facilitate the greed of the athletes and allow them to play at a half-a$$ tempo cause they get paid regardless. There needs to be pride re-instilled in the product that is professional sports, and the beginning is having the employees work for their money. No more contract hold-outs, no more not showing up for training camps.

(In no way am I saying that all professional athletes are greedy, but there are more and more nowadays).

People will miss the NBA when the current CBA expires, but a hard cap will help briing back the excitement to a game and the desire to win in ALL players.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:33 pm

NBPA letter strikes pessimistic tone

And I almost forgot to mention that lockout or no lockout, NBA players take a massive risk playing overseas.   If they get hurt in another league you can bet everything you've got their current and guaranteed NBA contracts would be void in a second...  they better spend some good money on insurance in case they do get hurt.

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