How will end of NFL lockout affect NBA work stoppage?
At least one league can say it'll have a full season.
NFL owners and players agreed early Monday to the terms of a deal to end the lockout, reported the Associated Press, sparking perhaps three reactions. Everyone can be comforted to know that their Sunday ritual won't be disrupted. We can now enjoy fresh speculation that Brett Favre is eying another comeback. And for basketball fans, they wonder if this might lead to more progress for the NBA's own work stoppage. Below the jump, I look at whether the NFL reaching a new collective bargaining agreement will hurt or help the NBA's hope to iron out one.
Why NFL's recent agreement will push NBA to do the same: Once the NBA lockout became official, The Times' Mark Heisler offered a good dose of perspective that there's not going to be much urgency for the league's front office and players union to iron out a deal until a few other things happen. That includes when the schedule gets affected, the checks stop coming and if the NFL reaches its own agreement. With the latter part appearing imminent, Heisler predicted that "if the NFL starts on time, there will be pressure on the NBA to do it too, or look like an unruly kindergarten. If not, the NBA has perfect cover."
There's plenty of reasons why this would put pressure on the NBA to iron out a collective bargaining agreement, regardless of whether the end product would be to the owners' or players' liking. Even if all three networks that televised NBA games reported viewership increases this past season, the average attendance (17,306) served as the fifth-highest in league history and the competition itself proved captivating, the NBA is nowhere near the NFL in popularity and probably never will be. Fans gear up for every week of the NFL because the games actually matter, while most don't even pay attention to the NBA except during marquee matchups and when the playoffs start.
Why the NFL's recent agreement won't push NBA to do the same: Lakers guard and NBA Players Assn. President Derek Fisher recently told Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen that he doesn't want to follow the NFL's structure, which centers on revenue sharing, a hard cap and the right to cut off salary to underachieving players. This, of course, is part of the negotiating process, but there are fundamental differences between the NFL and NBA's financial structure. The NFL isn't going through economic hardships. There was just a split between how the owners and players would divide the pie. Even if there's correct skepticism in how much player salaries are actually contributing to the NBA's current financial state, there's debate on what those numbers mean. After the New York Times' Nate Silver cited the Forbes data showing that 17 of the league's 30 teams actually lost money in the 2009-10 season, the NBA immediately refuted that analysis. Nonetheless, that framework makes it more understandable that ironing out a deal would take some time.
One only has to look at this past weekend to see that players aren't fretting yet about a work stoppage. Many players, including the likes of Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, played in a pair of exhibition games in the Philippines in which they collected at least $400,000, according to Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick. With Bryant slated to make $83.5 million on the three years remaining on his contract, that figure nowhere compares to the money he'll make in the NBA. But for now, players can see barnstorming tours as better time spent expanding their brand and picking up some loose change than worrying about the players union ironing out a deal with the NBA.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kevin Mawae, left, president of the NFL Players Assn. Executive Committee, arrives for a meeting in Washington. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press / July 25, 2011.