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NBA lockout: Owners more at fault for work stoppage

David Stern/Derek Fisher

The public won't care about the details surrounding a new NBA collective bargaining agreement. They'll roll their eyes that a billionaire-vs.-millionaire fight hasn't involved any dialogue about lowering outrageous ticket and concession prices. In the current economy, they'll see it as offensive the sides are even arguing when everyone is paid handsomely.

But let's make one thing clear. The NBA canceled the first two weeks of the regular season after Monday's negotiating session mostly because of the owners' insistent demands that the players' union rightfully rejected.

Resist faulting the players for not being open to Commissioner David Stern's seeking ownership approval of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. Avoid describing them as greedy since they still make millions of dollars. Don't label them hypocritical for the union-orchestrated "Let us play" Twitter campaign, when agreeing to a deal could've ensured a full 82-game season.

Separate the emotional sentiments fans and affected team and arena workers rightfully have about this  work stoppage and simply look at the facts.

The union agreed to cut the 57% of BRI they earned under the last CBA to 53%, a decrease of about $160 million based on the $4.2-billion of revenue generated last season. NBA.com's David Aldridge reported that in Monday's session, the union also agreed to a smaller mid-level salary-cap exception for free agents. The union resisted calls from top agents and even within its membership to decertify, knowing that could lead to a prolonged court case that would surely eat away at least a large portion of the 2011-2012 season. And with the exception to Metta World Peace, the players have mostly been professional during the lockout.

Meanwhile, the owners haven't acknowledged that the 22 teams they claim lost $300 million last season did so partly because of interest payments, overpaying for franchises and poor front-office decisions. They've tried rectifying financial losses by demanding fundamental changes, such as a rollback in player salaries, wiping out guaranteed contracts and instituting a hard cap. Some of the compromises the owners offered, such as substituting a more robust revenue sharing system for a hard cap and moving the BRI percentage from 46% to 49%, fall short compared to the concessions they've asked the players  to make. 

So lament all you want about a reduced season. But don't blame it on the players. As Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash recently tweeted, "Why are the owners unwilling to negotiate in good faith? As a player I apologize to the fans that we're in this position." 

RELATED:

Players have zero leverage

Season may not start on time

Lakers address canceled preseason

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo credit: Associated Press Photos /October 4, 2011)

 
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