Blog Entry

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Posted on: February 13, 2010 10:25 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2010 11:10 pm
DALLAS – NBA players simply make too much money, commissioner David Stern said Saturday night, and salaries must be curtailed to keep the league afloat. 

Citing $400 million in operating losses this season – and an average of $200 million annually in previous years of the current collective bargaining agreement – Stern issued a challenge to the players’ union to come back with a proposal that would develop “a sustainable business model.” 

“At our current level of revenue devoted to players’ salaries, it's too high,” Stern said. “I can run from that, but I can't hide from that, and I don't think the players can, either.” 

In a state-of-the-league address that was alternately witty and biting, Stern ridiculed union chief Billy Hunter’s assertion that the owners’ initial proposal was taken off the table during a contentious bargaining session Friday during All-Star weekend. 

“I don't know what that means,” Stern said. “We are talking semantics, and everyone around here knows that I am not anti semantic.” 


“I don't know what to say,” Stern said. “If they don't like it, you know, that's what counters are about. Speak to me, that's all. Off the table, on the table, under the table; I don't even understand it. The answer is, it's for them to make a proposal.” 

While Stern was in rare form on those topics, he artfully dodged three of the most important issues related to avoiding a lockout if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by June 30, 2011:

1) The 2010 free-agent class: Though Stern professed no urgency to reach agreement on a framework of a new economic system by July 1 of this year, the owners need cost-certainty by then in order to plan accordingly for spending on the biggest free-agent class in NBA history. Since the players like the current system, they’re in no hurry to speed up the process. So owners will have to risk committing max money to free agents this summer and having it come back to haunt them if the cap falls as far as the union predicts under the owners’ proposal – from $57.7 million to about $43 million.

2) Revenue Sharing: Stern said he’s committed to revamping the revenue-sharing model to help low-revenue teams compete. Despite saying it would be done “in lock step” with collective bargaining, Stern also said, “We can’t do it until we complete the negotiations.” Asked to explain why, Stern said, “We are going to do it all at once. It’s going to be when we have the new collective bargaining agreement.” According to internal NBA documents obtained by, 12 teams averaged more than $1 million per game in ticket revenue during the 2008-09 season, with seven of those teams making the playoffs. Six teams made less than $600,000 per game, and only one – the Hawks – made the playoffs. “When we get to where we need to get to, there will be a very robust revenue sharing where teams will not be in a position to decline to compete because of money,” Stern said.

3) Other Ways to Reduce Expenses: While there have been cutbacks at the league office and on the team side, Stern admitted that his precious expansion to international markets has been a drag on the league’s financial picture. Stern referred to investments in such countries as India and China as having “not great margins.” But he refused to concede that reducing the league’s global efforts would be another way to rein in expenses. “We think that this will be a large payoff for future players that the present players are benefiting from because of investments that were made previously,” Stern said. But it seems to me that present players aren’t benefiting if the owners are asking them to accept less money while the league plans to open offices this year India, Africa, and the Middle East, with exhibition games planned for Mexico City, Barcelona, Paris, London, Beijing, Milan, and Guangzhou.

“Other expenses squeeze us,” Stern said, when pressed on the issue, “but player expenses are too high.”

Stern relished taking shots at what he described as the union’s “theatrics” during Friday’s negotiating session, though he later said, “I would have to plead guilty to participating a bit in such negotiations as well.” He accused union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who also is handling CBA negotiations for the NFL, of “threatening us.” One such threat, Stern revealed after his news conference, was that the union would decertify and sue the NBA for anti-trust violations. Coincidentally, the league recognized during All-Star Saturday night festivities Spencer Haywood, the first player to challenge the NBA's eligibility requirements. Haywood's anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA went to the Supreme Court in 1971, and Haywood won the right to join the league although he didn't complete four years of college.

For the second straight day, a story published by was raised in a news conference on the subject of labor talks. According to sources, Stern was referring to a Jan. 29 story in which a team executive ridiculed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, saying James could “play football” and Wade could “be a fashion model” if they didn’t like the drastically reduced maximum contracts owners were proposing. Other news outlets published similar swipes, including Yahoo! Sports, which quoted an anonymous team executive who characterized the owners’ proposal as “a photocopy of Stern’s middle finger.” 

Stern said he was “offended” by the comments, calling them “cowardly,” and he apologized to players’ negotiating committee and the 10 All-Stars who were so enraged by the stories that they showed up at the bargaining session Friday. 

“Some of our so called team executives have been quoted – as you might expect anonymously – in the media, and saying disparaging things about our players,” Stern said. “If you know me, and you know our owners, that’s not what we do. That’s not us. And the players were upset with those quotes, which I find cowardly, if they were actually said. And if I ever found out who said them, they would be dealt with; they would be former, former NBA people, not current. And we assured the stars of that.” 


Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 8:19 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

It is not about how much the player's make,but how much the owners lost investing the players pension in bad investments.The NBA is exciting,the fan's are lame.You could drop a penney on the floor and hear it unless there is a 18-2 run.Union-Yes

Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 7:30 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

This union for NBA players will probably go the same way the unions in America have gone in the airline and automotive industries.  The company will go bankrupt or close to bankruptcy before the union believes how bad things are really before they start making any meaningful concessions.  Unions tell tell their memebers, any thing we give up to management or owners will never be returned.  NBA players make more as an average per player for a simple reason:  There are less of them on the team than all major sports.

As most people have posted, the NBA is almost unwatchable for many sports fans.   I can watch the last 5 minutes of game to see what I need to know.  Anything that happens before that is alomts irrelevant.  So what if a guy score 50 points in the first 3 quarters ?  If he does not score in the last 5 minutes when the best players take over, it is almost meaningless.   So if the NBA does not play a season, will fans get upset or just never come back ?   Many will never come back if they stop playing.  I know if they never play again, it will not change much in my sports viewing which is sad from what the NBA use to be.


Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 6:20 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'


Back when WE were in high school, and even before, when you watched an NBA game it actually was the game indicated by the "B" in the league's name...


Today, the NBA is to basketball as Barack Obama is to telling the aint either case.

LeBron James couldn't hold most of the old players' jock straps. In today's basketball...starting with Magic Johnson...players shove, push, palm the ball, travel, stand in the lane for up to 8 seconds at a time (watch a game with Shaq sometime if you don't believe me).

Its amazing how I see the talking heads on the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network talk about how to defend someone:

Talking head #1..."You can't stop him unless you put a body on him. You have to put a body on him or he will score at will."

Talking head #2..."That's right."

See what I mean...has nothing to do with basketball. Putting a body on someone is ILLEGAL. So is palming. So is shoving. So is using a guy's shoulder to help you dunk over him. So is travelling. So is more than 3 seconds in the lane.  Ad infinitum.

I refereed basketball for 25 years. If you call the game by the rules, the players will GET IT and STOP playing illegally. The year when Magic played center in the finals cause Kareem was hurt. He scored 42 points and the media made him a God of basketball. I would have fouled him out in the first quarter. Go watch a tape of the game.

David Stern is just like Bud Selig... They both are in the entertainment business and have ruined their SPORT. Sport is an ATHLETIC CONTEST in accordance with the RULES. NOT entertainment.

Stern and Selig...enablers.

Since: Apr 6, 2008
Posted on: February 14, 2010 5:09 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Donaghy told us all the truth about the NBA.  It's fixed to at least an extent.  And there is absolutely no other professional sport where the officials/umpires have more of an impact.  Being a Pistons fan my whole life, I can tell you first hand that I have witnessed the absurd calls and so on, due to those pin striped-wearing clowns who's contempt towards my beloved team has been obvious for years... since the Michael Jordan era.  There is no place in pro sports for an official's personal opinions, especially when they directly effect the game in such a substantial way.  Because of this, the NBA has become entertainment, much like the WWE, not a professional sport.  They want an exclusive group of players and teams to succeed, period.  There is a reson that March Madness is, year in and year out, a much better spectacle, because its still basketball.  From frozen envelopes, to catering to the superstars and 'faces' of the league, from 5-step dunks and pushing defenders to the floor for that last second jumper, the NBA has snowballed down a steep hill into mediocrity.  RIP

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: February 14, 2010 5:08 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

David Stern is an Attorney.  Never trust anything that comes out the mouth of an attorney.

When one talks, always place a mirror behind them to see what's coming out the other side.

There's three sides to a sotry... Owners, players and the truth.

Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: February 14, 2010 4:07 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Jermaine O'Neal.  15th Largets contract in Sports history.  Enough said.

Since: Feb 18, 2009
Posted on: February 14, 2010 3:55 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

This is on the players here.  Part of owning a business is to make money.  If the owners are losing money, they will find a way to make more.  The first place they will start with is salary.  No busisness owner is going ot let money go out the window when they don't have to.  NBA players are going to have to grab their ankles on this one.

Since: Feb 14, 2010
Posted on: February 14, 2010 3:47 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Who really cares about the NBA? These guys can't even shoot a jump shot ! Take away easy layups and dunks and these guys can only shoot about 30%. Kobe took about 250 more shots and made about 250 less shots than Jerry West did to break his Lakers scoring record. All Lebron does is run to the basket out of control while taking too many steps. I can't figure out why people think he's so great!
He can't shoot !!!!!!!! These guys are a joke. The NBA should go under and stop paying these guys millions for playing bad basketball. Let them go to Europe and play there.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 3:27 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Stern & the Players association must have forgotten that were still in a RECESSION.  I used to be an avid basketball fan back in the days that I could afford to go to a game but not now!  For a family of 4 I would have to give up my mortagage payment to attend a game and have decent seats not nose bleed, personally I prefer to have a roof over my head and not a tarp.  For what they are paying a bunch of whiners, who can't even provide a good interview.  They talk about Free Agents, I recall when players stayed with their respective teams for a good chunk of their careers, but now its all about $$$$.  I see Stern pulling in some $20 million a year and he says the league lost $400 million.  A publicly traded company losing that much money would have fired its CEO a long time ago.  So why does Stern still have his job, gee is that the $400 million question.   Maybe there should be a shut down, so reality can set in for all parties concern. 

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2010 3:27 pm

Stern: Cut expenses, but only the players'

Get rid of the NBA and kids from the inter-city will actually have to do more than go to practice... they might actually have to go to school and learn so they can get a job.... oh the shame of it all.  In reality none of the average people really care what they make in the NBA because it doesn't pay our bills.  The pay will continue to go up every year as long as the sheep keep buying tickets and jerseys and such.  And that is all anyone cares about that steps on the floor anymore.  A shame.

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