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NBA lockout: League needs to stop power-play tactics

November 21, 2011 | 12:07 pm

David Stern/Adam Silver

Throughout this NBA lockout, the league has demonstrated its power simply for the sake of showing who's in charge.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has often set arbitrary deadlines for the players union to accept a deal even if both sides could conceivably negotiate past the dates. Both the owners and players union appeared on the verge last week of accepting a deal that would have entailed a 50-50 split in basketball-related income, resulting in the players dropping from 57% of BRI and giving $280 million back to the owners each season of a 10-year deal. Yet the owners also appeared intent on the players union making further concessions on various system issues mostly determining the players' free agent prospects. And as the players answered the owners' proposal by disbanding and filing antitrust laws, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the league maintains it will wait for the players to reach out to it in the hopes of negotiations restarting again.

So much for the adage that with great power comes great responsibility.

Of course, plenty of the league's behavior fits into its negotiating strategy in brokering a deal to its liking. The players-union-turned-trade-association has also remained in denial about its actual leverage. But it's clear that Stern's power-play tactics have actually backfired.

Even though the general public finds no winners in this labor dispute, poll results and comments in this forum show fans mostly find fault with the owners' approach. It's fueled further skepticism from the players, who reportedly rejected the league's latest proposal mostly out of frustration over Stern's incessant demands. And whether or not they admit it, the dove owners and hard-line owners may become further divided. The doves, such as Lakers owner Jerry Buss, have wanted to reach a deal because championship prospects and gate revenue always prove more lucrative than a lost season. The hard-liners, such as Michael Jordan, will further lament the lost money and Stern's inability to deliver on their many demands.

When this work stoppage finally ends, the owners inevitably will come out on top. But if Stern and the owners weren't so domineering with their demands, it would have been more likely they could have won a deal in time to start a 72-game season on Dec. 15. Partly because of the league's insistence on running up the score, however, the season still remains in jeopardy.


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-- Mark Medina
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Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern has continued to hold the line for the owners during labor negotiations with the players union. Credit: David Karp / Associated Press