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NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:56 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 1:32 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver


Saturday essentially represented the eleventh hour if ongoing labor negotiations were going to progress enough to save the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season, and the league's owners responded with all the urgency other people their age bring to planning a 2 p.m. nap. The owners wanted to save the season so badly that they agreed not to even discuss the money issue because it was so clearly a waste of time. The owners were so committed to avoiding a true work stoppage that they used the oldest trick in the book, "working late" on Saturday as an excuse to take off Sunday. 

The lasting scene from the last two fruitless days of labor negotiations is not Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade standing up to commissioner David Stern on Friday. No, the image that will endure is billionaire Heat owner Micky Arison cracking a joke about the exchange and then treating himself to a New York steak on Saturday night.

Sure, imagining Wade sticking it to basketball's bellicose bully is a great picture, but if you zoom out you can clearly see the league's owners yawning, or perhaps even chuckling, at Wade's confident petulance, knowing that his outburst stems from a growing sense of outrage and frustration at the lack of progress in the talks. "If the superstars are getting this upset," you can almost hear the owners thinking, "just imagine how mad the mid-level players must be."

Once the natural sense of satisfaction and vindication caused by Wade's confrontation with Stern wears off among the league's rank and file, they will soon realize that the exchange of words and, really, the entire appearance of stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at Friday's talks in New York was nothing more than a sideshow, a distraction from the fact that the owners have not meaningfully moved on the only topic that matters: the split of basketball-related income. Expecting Wade, James and Anthony to influence the mindset of owners dead set on a financial system overhaul is as ridiculous as the costume Cleveland Cavaliers guard Baron Davis wore to the proceedings. It didn't make any difference. The superstars, it turns out, are not a panacea. So, what next?

Aside from praying for a favorable ruling by the National Labor Relations Board and the longshot, that-ship-has-sailed option of decertification, the National Basketball Players Association is running fresh out of ideas. Patience has been the order of the day up to this point but panic seems like a more apt description of what should come next, given how unblinking the owners were this weekend. As a group, the owners have shown no real cracks and they even offered up a generous, expanded revenue sharing program to the surprise of many. Sure, they are getting killed for jeopardizing the future of their league and for being profit-hungry, and they deserve every word of it, but damned if they aren't unified in their questionable course of action. They are driving this season off the cliff in tandem. Thirty motorcycles will crash into the ravine simultaneously.

And that's why the month of October in these negotiations will be defined by the resolve of the other side, which already seems a touch shaky. NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, despite their best efforts and tireless work, have struggled to maintain order and interest among their ranks. Only a few dozen players bothered to show up at a recent regional meeting in Las Vegas and the league's star players were virtually absent during this process until their brief cameo on Friday. The NBA's most popular player, Kobe Bryant, couldn't be bothered to break off from his overseas obligations. The NBA's MVP, Derrick Rose, has been seen fighting bullfighters in sneaker commercials but hasn't stepped into the labor ring. LeBron James, the league's biggest talent, is reportedly among a group of stars ready to dig in and take a hard line at 53 percent of the BRI, regardless of the consequences, but that's easy for him to say because he's made more money in a season, multiple times, than the average player will make in a career. He has copious, global endorsement opportunities to help ease the pain, too.

Dozens of fringe players have already bailed to play basketball overseas and, with the cancelation of regular season games just around the corner, middle of the road guys who had been weighing their options are likely to follow suit. Those who don't go will only get antsier and antsier, louder and louder, once this weekend's non-action sinks in and the missed paychecks become a reality rather than a threat. When that clamoring starts to pick up, we know where the owners will be: laid back with their feet kicked up, holding onto the same demands they've held since the beginning of the process, laughing all the way to the bank.

The owners are the perfect villians: rich beyond our wildest dreams and determined to squeeze out every possible penny, regardless of the collateral damage. The scary part is that they don't care how they appear to the public, the media or, even, to Wade. The terrifying part is that it's still not totally clear the players understand what they are up against yet.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:40 pm

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

Ben, I find it interesting how biased most articles here and around the country are towards the poor players who are asked to take a mere $4M per year instead of $5M per year in order to establish a sound business system. After losing $300M each year for the past six years the owners are addressing that issue. If they could save money elsewhere (where they actually have control) they would likely have done so. Losing an average of $10M per team that $10M has to be contributed to the team by the owner. So instead of earning a return on investment they are continually having a negative return. How long before the banks no longer will lend to them? How long before Chapter 11 becomes necessary?

Each of us likely cannot identify with the large sums of money being tossed around. But we can realize that making $579,268 per player per hour does not evoke sympathy. It is obscene. And asking for that number to be dropped to $467,480 per player per hour is not taking food out of their mouths are keeping them from feeding their families. These are real numbers based upon 57% or 46% of a BRI of $4B. Study them well and you can refute all the silly and wrong articles pouring forth. Of the 14 previous comments on this thread not one is pro-player. The fans are figuring it out. Why can't the media? The owners are not going to drive off the cliff. The will take the road down while the players will be left behind.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:01 pm

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

The NBPA isn't fighting for your grandfathers pension and medical benefits for working the mines for 40 years...they want to make more than their employers make, even though they don't invest or risk a nickel themselves. 

The pitiful part about all this is, it's only about 25 elite players-basically the NBA All-Star team, that  is holding up not only the owners and fans, but 90% of the rest of the players in the union that would be happy to make $5 mil a year playing 82 basketball games. 

I wouldn't blame owners if they issued a lifetime ban on players refusing to go back to work for what the NBA offers them. Talk about dancing...the European offers would drop like the stock market knowing LeBron and Kobe and the rest of the slumdog millionaires couldn't play in the NBA anymore, and Derek Fisher and the rest of the rank and file would drop the union like Kobe drops waitresses. 

Since: May 31, 2009
Posted on: October 3, 2011 1:57 pm

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

then why do you even care to read about it?

Since: Oct 3, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:00 pm

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

THe best for the league and basketball is for the season to be cancelled.
THese players are so entitled that no amount of money will satisfy them.
THe sport would be better served to start over again without the gang thug mentality and concentrate on playing basketball 48 minutes every night instead of the last 4-5 minutes.
THis is right now a terrible, unwatchable product.
The college kids compete every night.  THe only negative there is the sham of "students" playing one year before going to the NBA.
Most of these kids wind up pennyless without an education.
Overall society will be well served by NBA reorganizing or just disappearing.

Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:30 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

I wouldn't care if this league folded

Since: Sep 29, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:57 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

We hope regular season starts soon!

Since: Oct 3, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:24 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

What is up with that look on Baron Davis's face.  What a gangster.  And if the players win, is he going to lift up his shirt like he does when he slam dunks the basketball because he thinks he's so bad-ass.  Stop whining and play ball.  Otherwise go play in another country and while youre at it, stay there.

Since: Oct 3, 2011
Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:18 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

Ha, what is up with these damn unions.  And why is it that the rich in this country get lambasted by the media but these union leaders are just as greedy.  Give it up Derek Fisher, the players should be happy with making millions.  The owners took the risk on investing in the team, and they dont need the players and they dont need the NBA!  They can take there money and invest elsewhere!  Play ball dumbass players!

Since: Aug 1, 2009
Posted on: October 3, 2011 2:04 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

The Owners own almost all the cards in every major sport, except for the NFL. The same thing will happen to the NBA that the NHL suffered a few years back, unless the players actually understand they have no leverage. Plus the owners aren't merely trying to squeeze money out of the players like the players are to the owners, the owners are simply trying to avoid losing money. I feel like the players are putting up a fight because A. They feel entitled, B. because they think making 5 million a year instead of 8 is unfair and C. because they think they can "win". As soon as they realize all 3 of those things are silly, the sooner this can end and we can all get back to business as usual.

Since: Mar 10, 2008
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:41 am

NBPA shouts met with laughter by NBA owners

clicked on this by mistake dont care about nba,but learned omething today. Red Green has a black halfbother,lol nice outfit to a to wear to a negotiation!!!!!!

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