Blog Entry

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:35 am

Posted by Matt Moore

It's just about over now. The respiration machines are slowing, the room has gone still, and everyone's trying to make peace with it. NBA momentum is almost dead. And the players and ownership are still haggling with one another over its possessions. 

It's grotesque how everything has happened that has led to this point. From the owners' scorched earth policy to avoiding any move toward real compromise or negotiation, their refusal to offer counterproposals over a period that lasted longer than six months, the players' desperate moves to maintain their footing, and most of all to the fact that both sides only really started negotiating within the last month. They knew this was coming. They knew what was at stake. And their pride kept them out of the board room. This is not how business should be conducted, not how men should decide the fate of the league at its most important time. 

There should have been dialogue the whole way through. It should have started last year and continued as often as possible. Both sides should have offered alternatives outside the box (the players have provided some ideas, but they were mostly regarding tertiary issues and didn't address the primary concerns). Both sides should have recognized that total victory is not obtained through negotiation. But maybe the owners knew that. Perhaps they understood the only way they were going to get their way was to force a siege and then choke off the supply lines. Maybe this was the plan from the start. If so, they're even dumber than the contracts they gave that put themselves into this position would show. But either way, there should have been efforts made to avoid this at all costs. This should have been the absolute last option, not the starting point to try and avoid. That would have been reasonable, that would have been intelligent, that would have been good business. 

Instead, we've got this, the height of success for the league since Michael Jordan left being set aflame because of principled stances and juvenile dramatic positioning.

We've got a lockout.

The NBA and ownership meets Thursday for the final time at noon eastern (high noon, as the drama continues) to try and resolve this. Or at least to look as if they're trying to resolve this. If you have a key negotiation that's being done to avoid shutting down your business entirely, do you wait until the absolute last minute? Is that how things are done? Absolutely not, but that's what's going on here. Instead we have one more chance for each side to try and position themselves as the compromisers, as the ones trying to get a deal, to try and create a crack in the other side. It won't work, of course. What would work is a group of smart people in a room trying to find solutions to the problems both sides face. Instead, we get two sides providing lip service by showing up for a meeting neither of them expect to actually do anything. 

If ownership is largely responsible for the injuries sustained to NBA momentum with its refusal to offer counterproposals, ridiculously hard line, constant scare tactics, and unrealistic expectations to completely revolutionize the sport in one renegotiation versus aiming to make changes over several, the players pulled the plug by refusing to offer a counterproposal to the owners' last effort. Was the owners' last design a series of false admissions of compromise wrapped in a deceptively hard stance? Absolutely. But there was no reason to cut off the talks, to stop the process of offering alternatives. That's negotiation. Instead, as the players elected for at All-Star Weekend in 2010, they pulled off dramatics that seem more like the work of dress-code-protesting teenagers than an organized collection of professionals. T-shirts that read "STAND," the brainchild of the ultimate NBA drama queen, Kevin Garnett along with Paul Pierce (you thought I was going to say LeBron, didn't you?). Walkouts of practice at All-Star Weekend. The players are one-step shy of stomping and screaming "It's not fair!"

Meanwhile, the owners are harboring delusions of grandeur of their own, wanting to "win" a negotiation outright. The CBA is an agreement. It takes two sides to tango. And while their money is what creates the backbone of the league, and it is their teams that form its foundation, they cannot exist without the players, without these players, without the best players. Yet the owners think it better to create nuclear winter and then wait for their opponent to buckle. 

You know why neither the United States nor the Soviet Union elected to use nuclear weaponry in the cold war? Because killing all of the citizens you're fighting for in an effort to protect them doesn't make any sense. Putting the league into a lockout, killing all the momentum and shutting off revenue streams in order to make more money isn't just cutting your nose to spite your face, it's drowning yourself to make sure you don't run out of air. It's madness. 

The league is at its best point since Jordan left. Ratings are up, league interest is sky-high. The internet has allowed fans to follow their teams in a way they have never been able to. All the games are broadcast on League Pass. Trades provide constant speculation and fans huddled around screens waiting to see what happens next (and will become remarkably difficult in a hard cap, hope the owners are remembering). The draft got crazy ratings, for crying out loud, and it was a horribly weak draft! China is a still-emerging market, the game has never been more globally recognized,  revenues have come back up, and yet here we are. Wasting all this is borderline criminal. Depriving the fans, who, if we're being totally honest, are the ones who actually drive revenue, of this sport wastes everything that has been built over the past five years. We're talking about incredible amounts of money, in the billions. The money is there. We're just going to shut everything down over how we're going to split it up? Really? This is the big strategic design?

Getting hurt by your long-term contracts to wasteful players? Don't offer them. Don't think you should lose money in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression? Grow up, everyone's tightening his belts, even the owners. Want to guarantee profitability? Open up conversations about revenue sharing and we'll believe you. Want to protect future players' earning potential? Give them a league to play in.

There are alternatives being looked at. Ken Berger's got a plan. Other smart people have a plan. The players and owners? They've just got the body of NBA momentum, dying in front of them while they fight over the silverware. 

The NBA lockout is upon us. And every inch of it should be something both sides should recognize is wholly and entirely stupid.

Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:30 pm

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

Boxing at its very peak has never surpassed football, basketball or baseball....not even remotely close. Do you think boxing could draw 15000/night times 15 locations 3-4 nights per week...for 7-8 straight months? Are you kidding?

Since: Jun 5, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:32 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

What I love is all the people who say "I won't watch again" or "It's gonna take a lot before they have my trust back and find me watching games."  Uh huh..  In fairness, I do believe that some...a select FEW (emphasis on few)...will adhere to those statements. It's everyone's right to do so. Honestly though, it comes across to me as people who are spoiled, want their own way and are going to throw a fit if they don't get it. JUST like the parties involved in the lockout.

It comes across that way because here's the thing.  The posters on these boards aren't nearly as affected by this as the players and owners. Granted, there are some who truly are affected.  Business owners who see an increase in business because of a local sports team? Ok...affected. Most people on here though are fans. Just fans. You're not affected by this in any way, other than the fact that what you enjoy watching/doing isn't around for a while.  So how do you react? "Well...I'll never watch again!". Ok? That makes a load of sense.  It's like a little kid who has his favorite toy taken away, so to show Mommy and Daddy he means business, he tells them he'll never play with that toy again. He doesn't care if they give it back or not. Does he still care? 99% of the time he does (there are those rare exceptions) but by making some ridiculous and extreme statement, it makes him feel like he has a little bit more power and control.

That's what it comes across as to me when I see/hear fans say things like that. Though I admitted that I know some people actually won't watch again, I never believe that line when I hear it because I also know that most people will be right back to watching. Sunday morning will roll around and "former" NFL fans, who just happen to be sitting at home that day will tune in and all those cries of "I'll never watch again" will be forgotten. They'll be back on here posting about it too. Honestly, not having an NBA or NFL season, or missing some games isn't going to be the end of the world, but also being honest, fans of the game aren't going to be thrilled if it's time for the first regular season game to be played and it isn't. Quite frankly, it's hard to view you as much of a fan if you don't care at all. Honestly, I just wish that people would stop the spoiled brat antics and be honest about it.  It sucks that they're doing this.  Some of these guys make more money than you or I will see in a lifetime, so we don't really understand the fighting about it. We'll be ok if some games aren't played. At the same time though, we want to watch it, we want it to be resolved and that's why we go on sites like these and read updates about how the negotiations are going.  It's not simply to tell everyone "I don't care, because I'll never watch again".  That's just a way for some people to try and make themselves heard, or something.'s dumb and I guarantee I'm not the only one who thinks statements like that are foolish and doesn't believe them for a second. As a matter of fact, I bet some of the people posting those things know full well that they'll be right back at the stadium or in front of the tv as soon as the first regular season game kicks off/tips off.

End rant.

Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 9:26 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

MMA and Boxing are laughing their asses off.  When these major sports all kill themselves, these two will absolutely dominate and it will be near impossible to beat them.  Boxing was so absurdly huge in this country several decades ago, before the greed took them to PPV.

If Boxing gets itself on network TV, which it will be able to if the big sports all disappear on Sundays, it will be hell to compete with them.  I don't knowif they're stupid enough to go back to PPV a second time.

Since: Oct 4, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 8:07 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

My winter TV view is really opening up.  First the NFL, now the NBA.  You would think they would learn from history.  The last NFL lockout and substitute players didn't go over well and really hurt the NFL.  They expend a lot of time, effort, and money to repair the inage and draw fans back.  Then MLB had their lockout and went through the same issues and have now started to gain real support again.  I would think the NBA would be watching the NFL right now and not want to be in the same boat.  That doesn't seem to be true.  It looks like the NBA wants to join the fun.  People with money I can only dream of arguing over how to divide more money I can only dream of.  It will be a few years before I support either the NFL or the NBA as a fan.

Since: Nov 9, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 7:15 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

Life will go on without the NBA for however long the lockout is or even if the league were to dissolve. CBS and ESPN sportswriters must be dumping bricks at this point, however as the reason fod the people's jobs who cover the NBA like Berger becomes moot.

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:37 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

What does Adam Silver know about basketball???? Anyone know???

Since: Mar 3, 2011
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:06 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

And the money that gets removed from the local economy to pay for the stadium, infrastructure improvement and the clean up after the games doesn't eat away at the local economy? The economic benefit to a local community due to having a pro sports team is very much not a significant ammount when all factors are considered. Explain to the guy working his tail off for 40 - 60 g's a year to support his family how his tax dollars are being well spent to make these improvements when the only way he'll get a ticket to watch his local franchise play a game is by winning a radio contest or cancelling the family vacation. I love watching sports, have nothing but admiration for the incredible athletic ability it takes to play any professional sport, but I will never be convinced a sports franchise contributes a significant ammount to a local economy. The reality is that the owners risk nothing as long as communities fight for the right to build their stadiums and give them whatever they ask to just please don't move to another city. The other reality is that as long as we fans make these players out to be some kind of heroes they will continue to feel like they are somehow more deserving of our respect than the average Joe who works his tail off to support his family. As long as that remains the reality both sides will exploit it to make the absolute most $ they can out of communities and dopes like me and you will whine about it when they can't come to an agreement to split the $ they wring out of us. 

Since: May 27, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:45 am

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

So valets, security, concessions sales, concessions delivery, program givers, reporters, audio/visual tech, trainers, masseuses, doctors, local advertisers, radio/tv promo people don't count?  Some of it isn't big money, some of it is just grunt/high school labor but trust me that the money circulates into the community. It's not a continual industry that'll prop up a sagging economy by any stretch of the imagination but ask any local bar, club or convenience store if they see a return on the downtown arena and the answer is yes.  That income there stretches into the stock and logistics of a few more companies down the line.  I personally believe any player salary reduction should go hand in hand with ticket and concession price reductions to bring the fan back and it makes better business sense than the current practice of pricing them out.  

Since: Mar 3, 2011
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:50 pm

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

Oh please give me one of those jobs mopping the sweat off the floor or hawking popcorn @ the game. The owners of professional sports franchises do not create any jobs of real significance to anyone except the pampered sel-absorbed players who play every, nah mostly every, well a high percentage of every night. Neither side deserves anyone's sympathy in a ridiculous labor dispute like this. I don't begrudge either side whatever ammount of $ they can weasel out of fans, just don't try and tell me either side is anything other than a bunch of greedy pre-teens who have never been forced to grow up.

Since: May 27, 2009
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:58 pm

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design

     NBA as compared to the NFL has a very real problem and it has to be dealt with aggressively.  Small markets are withering on the branch while certain franchises dwarf them like the sun dwarfs the earth.  It's one thing to look on paper and say how can the owners write checks like they do for marginal players but in reality if you look at the reality of their competitive situation you have to say, how can't they write these checks.  Let's be honest, the minor league teams (Minn., Charlotte, every team not named the Lakers) have to overpay to get talent even somewhat comparable to the meagerest value of a big league team.  It started as a blip, a team overpaid a talent to stay/come on to their roster and it spiraled after that until the teams were forced to use that as business as usual.  It has to change and it has to change soon before it spirals completely out of control and destroys the league.

      Players aren't really at fault, they've grown accustomed to the habit. In what other real world occupation do you get overpaid to do the job you do?  I understand the resistance to change, get what you can get while you can get it because no corporation in the world cares more about a worker than they do about the bottom line.  They're well compensated though and the owners are right to want to scale wages back to protect their long term investment.  Don't ask me to care about their health or benefits, I do more in the real world with 1/100th of the reward, I face real world danger and long term crippling effects from my occupation, learn fiscal responsibility to care for yourself.  Stars are made given the opportunity, legends come in time so if the owners have to scrap the whole lot and start fresh we really aren't missing anything.

     Owners aren't saints in this fight, the root of all of this is them protecting their profit and bottom line and if you read between the lines some of the fight (revenue sharing) is between themselves as the bigs don't want to share with the smalls.  I'm fine with the owners winning this fight because for the most part some of that money will return to the community through jobs, promotions and local support. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or