Steph Curry successfully summed up Monday’s news that the first two weeks of the 2011-12 NBA regular season had been canceled in one simple tweet–“#thissucks.”
While many of my friends here on campus saw commissioner David Stern’s statement scrawl across the bottom of ESPN’s news feed and shrugged their shoulders indifferently, I don’t think that they realize the implications this has for the NBA’s immediate future.
For starters, don’t think for a second that only two weeks worth of games will be canceled. The owners and players clearly are not on the same page, despite 11th-hour meetings attempting to come to a consensus over a new collective bargaining agreement and end the current lockout.
“We gave it a real good run and it didn’t work,” Stern said of the negotiations on Monday.
Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers point guard and president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), added to the conversation.
“Today was not the day to get this done,” he said.
Those two statements alone ought to be enough to scare all you professional basketball fans out there straight, because when two of the most important players at the bargaining table are giving excuses for not coming to an agreement without mentioning specifics and involving certain days being worse than others, the sides are likely very far apart.
NBPA executive director Billy Hunter was likely playing some strategic tactic, as any of those involved in the nitty-gritty details always are, but his statement that there has not been a discussion about the next time the two sides will meet was rather ominous.
“There has been no discussion about next meetings. Maybe a month. Two months,” he said. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
But it might not matter what date anyone has in mind to resume negotiations, because as the lockout drags on and on, I don’t see how the owners will be motivated to try and salvage the season if they aren’t coming out on top.
According to NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, 22 of 30 NBA teams lost money last year. That came out to $300 million total–some $40 million less than the previous year, but still a staggering amount. And while some creative number-crunching is definitely going on in the owners’ camp (most experts agree that it’s more likely that closer to half the teams actually failed to turn a profit last season), there is no getting around the fact that the old bargaining agreement gave 57 percent of all Basketball Related Income to the players. That is the sticking point, before you even get into hard caps, soft caps, rookie scales, guaranteed deals or anything else–if the owners don’t end up with a much bigger slice of the pie, they won’t hesitate to let the season go up in flames.
And why shouldn’t they? The players have truly been getting away with murder by current professional league standards.
Look around; baseball and football are cash cows–the NFL brought in more than a billion in profits (before taxes) in 2009, and the MLB about $500 million in 2010. The players, though, are receiving less than 50 percent of the income. In order for the NBA to catch up to either of those leagues would require the players to take a step back and realize that they can make more overall money in the future. If they agree to a slightly smaller share of the profits, the owners can reinvest, and the league can try and get back to the days when MJ, the Mailman, Larry Bird and Magic had fans tuning out football to watch basketball.
But most importantly, remember that professional basketball is not the most popular sport today. The public already thinks the regular season drags on way too long, and many weighed in saying that they were glad to do away with some of the early games. And while people were suffering from football withdrawal in July and August, the same can’t be said for basketball. So it will take a lot longer for the league to return to the same energy and buzz that an epic NBA Finals showdown generated, when Dirk single-handedly slayed the Big Three.
I’m not sure what the public can really do to rally the troops and save the season, but as a fan of the game, I’m really hoping that both sides get their acts together so that we aren’t talking about how much we miss the NBA in January, when it’s too late to see any of the stars take the court. #thissucks.
After the Red Sox’s epic collapse, Miles really needs this NBA season. Until then, cheer him up with adorable photos of Steph Curry at milesbs “at” stanford.edu.