Negotiations to end the NBA lockout are at a crossroads.
At a meeting Monday in New York, the players union can accept the owners' latest proposal of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income and some concessions. That would secure a 72-game season beginning Dec. 15.
Or the players can reject the deal and demand better terms. That would all but guarantee the loss of the 2011-2012 season.
No doubt, the NBA owners are mostly responsible for this work stoppage. The players union has already expressed a willingness to reduce its share of basketball-related income to 50% from 57%, a move that would cost the players $280 million a season. The owners' latest proposal would implement/endorse such a 50-50 split.
Setting aside fairness, however, the players face the possibility that they may not be able to win a better deal than the one on the table. Team owners appear prepared to follow through on David Stern's threat to follow a rejection of their offer with proposals even less appealing to the union.
As a result, prolonging the work stoppage won’t result in a fairer deal. Instead, it will result in more lost games and lost paychecks — and worse offers. For better or worse, the NBA owners have finally shown a willingness to end the lockout. Now's the time for the players union to accept defeat and agree to a deal. Otherwise, they could get hit with a punch far worse than what the league's already thrown.
— Mark Medina
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Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern at a news conference in New York last month. Credit: David Karp / Associated Press