Two major American sports are currently locked out. But one is a juggernaut, a league that basically bathes in money. The other is rising back up after a down period that saw ticket sales and TV popularity slip.
That's why Shane Battier was very straightforward when he told WFAN in New York that the NBA "can't afford to go through what the NFL is going through." Battier understands the momentum in the league right now and to sacrafice it over money doesn't seem wise. Doesn't mean he thinks the players should just cave to the owners, but it means that both sides better get their butts to the bargaining table and get something sorted out before November.
Via Sports Radio Interviews:
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will get something done before missing any games. We all know what’s at stake. We can’t afford to go through what the NFL is going through and we can’t afford to lose the fans. I just think we have a perspective after going through this in ’99 that it’s in the best interest of everybody to hammer out a fair deal.”
It's an obvious statement, but Battier said what's been the MacGuffin, if you will, in these negotiations the entire time. The NBA simply can't risk what's been built over the last six or seven years. Talent is at an all-time high. TV interest is booming. The NBA Draft had incredible ratings. Millions tuned in just to hear where LeBron would play basketball.
To potentially alienate fans over money isn't wise. Both sides recognize this. Players see it, owners get it. There's talk of hardlining this thing and an entire season being wiped out. That would seriously be about the dumbest thing ever. Monumentally stupid. And because of what Battier said is a major reason I still don't really see games being lost.
Battier also tried to summarize the biggest issues in the talks.
Any advantage in getting a deal done is all I care about. I have no dog in the fight. No stake. All I care about is basketball in November. Make it happen, someone.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of the flex cap. I think it’s a pretty clever term by Commissioner Stern. The main issues for us are the revenue sharing amongst the big market teams and the small market teams. That will really lead the discussion to what share the players will share with the owners.
"The league maintains that the revenue sharing is an internal matter and they will take care of it themselves. We think it’s a huge part of the bigger picture, the big collective bargaining discussion. Once we sort of see how the revenues are going to be split amongst the teams I think that will be a huge, huge advantage to getting a deal done.”