It’s 1998 all over again, and don’t be fooled by the cordiality and the apparant good spirits between the owners and union. There’s bad blood, they’re no where near an agreement or even trying to gap that breach seperating the two parts of the pie the make the NBA. No one is giving up on his right to earn more, the same or even lose less money. From last night, we’re oficialy in the 2011 NBA lockout. For how long? No way to answer, but don’t be suprised, despite being only in July, that this will be a repeat of the 1998-1999 season. Or worse.
“Goodbye, have a nice fourth of July.” That’s how the meetings ended on Thursday night. No one moved an inch, and the same gaps on salaries, revenue shares, salary caps with “flex”, “soft”, “maximum” and “hard”, all scary words. The entry age to the league, the length of the deal and more – All of these aren’t agreed upon.
So who’s to blame – the Billionares owning the teams or the ‘greedy athletes’? Maybe David Stern. The players and owners have been on this course for two years now. It’s not all on him, and I’m sure he does plenty behind the scenes, but my feeling is he sided too much with the owners, gave around that feeling “everything is going to be OK” and didn’t press the matter hard enough.
The prosperity in ratings and interest in the NBA this last season hid the fact that 22 of 30 owners lost money. A total of 300 million dollars between them. There’s no more money from the public to build stadiums, marketing all over the world costs a lot of money, and it’s all on the owners. The revenues? 57% to the players. The owners are trying to take that number down to 40% at the end of a 10 year agreement.
The Union and at the head of it, Billy Hunter, disagree with the numbers that the owners presented – “There has been ongoing debate and disagreement regarding the numbers, and we do not agree that the stated loss figures reflect an accurate portrayal of the financial health of the league” (That was back during the All-Star Break). “There might not be any losses at all. It depends on what accounting procedure is used,” Hunter said. “If you decide you don’t count interest and depreciation, you already lop off 250 of the 370 million dollars.”
As with almost everything in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle between the two sides. It’s not changing the fact that despite the good intentions and overall feeling between the factions, and small indications of progress actually being made when taking a step back and looking at the timeline of the last two years (giving up on the hard cap, players willing to give up on 500 million dollars over 5 years compared to today), we’re in a lockout, which no one knows how and well will it end.