Blog Entry

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Posted on: July 15, 2011 2:09 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 9:38 am

Posted by Matt Moore

Unless you started covering it from the beginning, which removes your frame of reference, spend enough time around the NBA and you'll learn the real meaning of "opulence." It's everywhere. From the cars the players drive, to their jewelry, to the locker rooms where they spend a grand total of about four hours every night. It's in the banquet halls and the hotels reserved and the equipment used. It's in the gift bags for friends and media, the free food, the superstar (or Lenny Kravitz) performances, the pyrotechnics, everywhere. It's astounding. Everyone stays at the nicest clubs, eats at the nicest restaurants, travels in the nicest cars and buses.

It's in even the tiniest things. At the NBA Finals, along with All-Star Weekend, the NBA gives away gift bags for the media. A little thank you to say "We appreciate you bringing attention to our business, even though half the time you're jumping on our mistakes like cobras on an injured mouse." This year it was a simple wireless mouse and a mousepad that has the Finals logo on it. A schlocky little thing that was still pretty nice when you think about it being free. I kept it mostly because I wanted to give it to my newborn son when he is older to say "Your father got this at the first Finals he covered."

Tomorrow I'm taking it to the nearest charitable donations joint and dropping it off. Because now it's just a reminder of how opulence wasted has cost 114 people their jobs tonight when it shouldn't have. It's nothing but a guilty reminder of how the mismanagement of resources and revenue can wind up costing real people their jobs, jobs they need. All I can think about is the stacks and stacks of mouses and mousepads, most of which were most likely never claimed, sitting there on a table. How much could have been saved without their purchase, transport, or handling? It's not just a trinket, it's a guilt trip after what the league has decided this week.

From Ken Berger of
Word of the planning session came as the league laid off 114 employees from its New York, New Jersey and international offices this week in what it described as an ongoing cost-cutting effort aimed at shedding $50 million in expenses. The layoffs represented 11 percent of the league workforce and were felt across multiple divisions. The NBA also closed its offices in Tokyo and Paris.

The job reductions were "not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue — that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement released to media outlets inquiring about the layoffs.
via League, union to hold first post-lockout meeting -

114 people.

These aren't stats on a page, figures tossed around in an analysis. These are real people. Most of whom probably badly needed this job and unless you know of another professional basketball league happening in the states right now, probably are going to have a hard time making a seamless transition elsewhere. 

Now in this economy, that should be easy to forgive. Even as there are signs of a slow recovery, inching along at a snail's pace, that the corner has been turned and there are brighter days ahead, everyone has had to tighten their belt. It should be easy to forgive the NBA for having to go through the same pains as everyone else. But they haven't. They're not struggling to find a consumer base. They're not dealing with dwindling income. They're not drowning as their target audience shifts towards something else. No, instead, attention hasn't been this high since Jordan graced the court. Ratings are up and showing no signs of coming back down. The league is interesting, and marketable, and boy, is it revenue-inducing.

Merchandising is reaching an all-time high. In 2004, they were projected to make $3.3 billion in merchandising sales. The league earns $900 million from their television contracts, and even that's undersold. David Stern reportedly made $23 million last year. Even if he didn't, he made a whole lot more than those 114 people make combined. Eddy Curry made a little short of $12 million last year. Mike Dunleavy Jr. $11 million. I'm not arguing they weren't paid market value. I'm not sayingany of them are overpaid. I'm saying with all of thism oney floating around, with coaches being fined every night, how do you lose the money to pay for 114 people all of a sudden?

There are probably some executives included in the cuts. And the employees were given severance packages. But this was unnecessary. 114 people are out of a job right now, because a professional sports league in 2011 that had its biggest year in a decade, one of the biggest ever, can't figure out how to properly manage its expenses?

I worked for two non-profit organizations during the recession. Both went through the same problems as all non-profits have during the recession. It's not exactly a booming industry. But they planned. They held back. They dipped into reserves. They went into furloughs if they had to, but they avoided firing people. Because this isn't a game, which is what the owners have made this into. The league says this was not impacted by the lockout, a theory exactly zero people believe.

Don't have Lenny Kravitz play at All-Star Weekend during the introductions. Boom, you've just saved five people's job, counting the pyro, production value, and various expenses for travel. Cut back on a few league sponsored parties at All-Star Weekend. Don't cater the bargaining sessions. Hold them at a Motel 6 by the airport (that'll get the deal done faster, I promise you). Do any of these things and you've saved jobs. Jobs people need, who are depending on them. What about all that money from finding Mark Cuban and David Kahn and Phil Jackson? I understand that money went to charity. Couldn't that money have been saved to keep a position? With as much money as is thrown around the NBA, couldn't someone, somewhere have socked away enough cash to let people keep working at their jobs?

While we're at it, why don't we throw in all the money David Stern should have fined Donald Sterling over the past few decades. Wouldn't that have taken the sting out a little bit?

Shane Battier won't be getting his paycheck in the fall. Which means if he doesn't play abroad, or take another position, or find some endorsement money, he'll have to dip into his mountainous reserves. The same for every player. Even the lowest level guys are looking at things getting tight and possibly having to sell one of their multiple cars.

The people that were laid off this week by the NBA, the 114? They're out of a job, now. They didn't have to be, but here they are. Maybe they deserved to be. Maybe their positions were utterly useless. If that's the case, why not just reassign them? Have them work on creating efficiency plans or, I don't know, creative ways to end the lockout. Maybe they were just lazy. Maybe 11 percent of the NBA's total workforce really was just lazy and redundant. But doesn't that reflect the people at the top and their organizational structure more than it does the people who were actually affected by this?

The NBA has a right to run its business towards profit and to act in its own self-interest. But to trot out their opulence time and time agian, to splurge on so many little things that when you add them up it looks like one of those trash mountains from "Wall-E," it's not only off-putting, it's downright nauseating. David Stern has probably frozen his salary during this lockout that they've seen coming for two years. Maybe if he'd started sooner, those 114 people would still have their jobs. 

The owners are grumpy from greed. The players are indignant out of a perceived necessity. The fans are angry on principle and just want their game back. 

And 114 people are out of a job tonight, 114 jobs which could have been saved with a little more restraint, a little more compromise, a little more consideration.

Just like the lockout.
Category: NBA

Since: Jul 21, 2011
Posted on: July 21, 2011 3:23 pm

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Doesn't some of this spending create jobs though? I'm not disagreeing or even saying that I'm fine with what the league spends it's money on, but I would think that these things that they're paying for creates jobs, if not within the NBA itself, then at least somewhere down the line.

I think it's easy to look at the money the NBA has spent and just say, "Oh look, if they cut spending here they could have used that money to pay these employees," but I just don't think that's realistic and would likely come at the expense of other people's jobs.

Look, with the lockout going on, the league has shutdown a large part of its operations. That would drive any company to layoffs. If they're not taking in revenue (or at least not nearly as much as they would without the lockout), they have to trim the fat somewhere. Obviously it's unfortunate that these people have lost their jobs here, but I think in this situation it's inevitable. If it wasn't them, it would have been someone else somewhere else.

Since: Feb 28, 2007
Posted on: July 18, 2011 11:29 am

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

well if i do the calculating.. it means each of these people were making $400k each a year..    i believe this is why the NBA is losing their money.. overpaying for jobs ..  it is similar to the USPS..   folks are overpaid for a job that i would do for $100k  a year ..  folks need to start showing some common sense here .. i do think the office prob is over reacting but at the same time they are probably waking up going.. uhhhhhh   i think we made a mistake and lets correct it !!

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: July 18, 2011 10:22 am

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Sentence reads

What about all that money from finding Mark Cuban and David Kahn and Phil Jackson?

Please change "finding" to "fineing"

Great story. I like your point of view, but businesses don't have to care about their employees. They care about making money.

I agree in principle that we should not support businesses that don't support their employess, at the same time, sometimes we don't have a choice.

Since: Jul 15, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:12 pm

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Your number of 114 doesn't even count the hundred or so contract employees who didn't get their contracts renewed because of the lockout. Many of them worked at the NBA for YEARS but didn't get their contracts renewed. They were tossed out like a used hankerchief and their job losses weren't even reported, they were swept under the rug. David Stern I hope you enjoy the $23 million you got this year to go on top of the hundreds of millions you already have. Couldn't you spare a fraction of your salary to save the jobs of 200+ people who work for YOUR company? Nah, you'd rather spend it on a 5 star hotel and an elaborate breakfast buffet. Shame on the NBA for their gross mismanagement of resources. Don't get confused this has nothing to do with the recession. This is due to pure greed and opulence. People's lives have been destroyed due to their apathy and oversight.

Since: Jun 22, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 6:28 am

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Finally an article worth reading!  Very good job Mr. Moore. I've never been an NBA guy untill playoff time, but this is just disgusting! Don't take money from the millionaires, take it from the little man.....

Stay classy NBA

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