Blog Entry

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Posted on: February 19, 2011 12:46 am
LOS ANGELES – Just before the All-Star break, LeBron James expressed hopefulness that progress could be made in the NBA’s labor talks so a lockout could be avoided. On Friday, James willingly accepted the leadership role that comes with his stature and called out certain hard-line owners for being unrealistic in their demands. 

James was one of several particularly vocal players in Friday’s bargaining meeting, and sources told his chief complaint was with hard-line owners who’ve bought their teams in recent years and are now trying to dramatically alter the financial system they willingly bought into. 

“This has been a 57 percent system for years,” said a person who was in the meeting, paraphrasing James’ message. “This has been a system with guaranteed contracts forever. What did you guys expect? What did you think you were getting into?” 

That was among the highlights in an otherwise uneventful bargaining meeting, in which no actual negotiation was accomplished. Though the list of players in attendance was far longer than at last year’s All-Star meeting – in addition to the executive committee and some of the same top-flight stars who attended in Dallas, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Baron Davis, and Al Horford were among those in the room – the tone was much less contentious. But a compromise is no closer to occurring. 

“I’m worried about the league,” Dwyane Wade said. “It’s not just about myself, it’s about the future of the NBA. We want to make sure this game continues to grow and continues to prosper. We don’t want lockouts. We want this game to go on for many, many years, and we understand that a deal has to be done. Both sides have to come to an agreement. Neither side is going to come to an agreement if we can’t meet halfway.” 

Though National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said the owners’ hard-line position “kind of softened” by the end of the meeting, the owners still are no closer to making a second proposal to counter the players’ proposal. The owners haven’t offered anything new in terms of a formal proposal since submitting their initial slash-and-burn document 13 months ago. 

“I don’t know that there’s going to be a formal, written proposal coming from them any time soon,” Hunter said. 

And absent that, nor will there be one from the players. 

“We won’t submit another proposal” before the owners do, Hunter said. “That’s out of the question. … If we’re going to avoid a lockout, they’ve got to move off the dime.” 

Hunter said he will meet with commissioner David Stern next week after the All-Star break and schedule a series of negotiating sessions that will begin in the next 1-2 weeks. 

“I’m going to tell my guys to be prepared for a lockout,” Hunter said. “… We’ve got four months. And we’re going to see what we can do in the next four months. If it comes together, good. If it doesn’t, then we put our players on notice.” 

Hunter did not back down from his previous prediction that a lockout is 99 percent certain, but said, “We’re going to negotiate. We’re going to make every effort. I keep saying the same thing. I’m beginning to hear myself, like an echo. We’re going to make every effort to negotiate. We want a deal. Our guys do not want to be locked out. But given no choice … if you don’t give us any choice and our only alternative is to fight, then we’ll fight. 

“If it means that we’ll have to lose a season to get a deal we can live with,” Hunter said, “we’re willing to do that. We don’t want to, but we’ll suffer some pain.” 

The owners James and other players were taking aim at in the meeting were the new, hard-line group that has come into the NBA in recent years – including the owner of James’ former team, Dan Gilbert. Owners like Gilbert, the Suns’ Robert Sarver, the Celtics’ Wyc Grousbeck and the Wizards’ Ted Leonsis weren’t around for the last lockout and rely more on the financial success of their NBA teams than the old-school owners ever did. 

It is those new owners, sources say, who are pushing the hardest for dramatic changes, including a hard cap and a reduction in contract length and guarantees. Sources say the players in the meeting were incredulous that owners are suddenly so hellbent on changing the rules they signed up for. The owners offered no response to the challenges issued by LeBron and several other players, sources said, but listened to their concerns in what was termed a “cordial” and “amicable” meeting. 

Hunter also said that when the union’s University of Chicago economist asked owners if they would be asking for the same changes if they were making more money, the response was, “Yes.” This was the most significant moment in the meeting, Hunter said, with owners revealing that their goal is not to cut losses but to increase profits. 

“We may never have a consensus on what the numbers mean,” Hunter said. 

Two key issues that are expected to become contentious – a possible franchise tag and the contraction of teams in underperforming markets – did not get much attention in Friday’s meeting. But Hunter reiterated his insistence that the players will not agree to a deal without seeing details of a vastly improved revenue-sharing system – the creation of which the owners believe should be handled separately from bargaining. 

As for an issue that affects a certain free agent-to-be who faces possibly losing millions if he opts out of his contract rather than sign an extension before June 30, sources say Carmelo Anthony emerged from the meeting with no more knowledge about the issue than he came in with. Earlier in the day, when asked about the risk of entering free agency in the first year of a potentially punitive CBA, Anthony replied, “That’s why I’m about to go meet with Billy Hunter.” 

“You’ve got guys who’ve negotiated their contracts this past year – LeBron, Chris Bosh, etc.,” Hunter said. “Does that the mean that if a guy like Carmelo comes up while we’re negotiating and if the franchise player tag gets introduced and adopted, that he now suffer as a consequence because he can’t go out on the market? I don’t know if that’s acceptable to me.”

Since: Dec 29, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:44 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

The last time i checked the owners were paying the bills so maybe they should tell those high paid clowns to take it or hit the highway.  I like to see what most of them would be doing if they couldn't shoot a basketball.  I'm sure the money would be a LOT less...

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:35 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

MEBron go away. YOu are not Michael Jordan and never will be. The NBA eroded long ago and having guys like Carmello, Kobe, and MEBron are certyainly not the way to pass the NFL. Hope you get locked out a long time. The NFL recognizes what is at stake and will get their negotiations done because of the strength of TV revenues. NBA, well, you have all those MEBron jerseys you could sell

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:20 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

You may as well "call-out" the fans, because when all is said and done, they are the ones who are paying you, not the owners.  Let's not forget thast it was just a few years ago that the NBA had to be bailed-out with stimulous money.  The popularity of the NBA is declining, and it will continue to do so. 

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:00 am

Call the Owners Bluff!

The players need to call the bluff and hold out for a lot more money and benefits than they are getting now.  They are the game and the owners will be forced to give in.  The players should get at least 60% of the revenues, not 57% which is an insult.  The owners are billionaires and can easily pay big money to the players.  It's time to make a stand and a lot more money.

Since: Mar 9, 2009
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:56 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I personally hope they lock out until all the current players are gone and we can start over with college graduates. And Wiseguy is 100% right. Also, who is protecting the fans. I fair system would be something like this;

Player are paid based on minutes played with max salary at 500,000 and minimum of 250,000. If Lebron James can do better slinging crack on the streets then BYE BYE

Players have all travel expenses for away games paid

A percentage (small)  TV revenue is split amoung all players

Court side seats start at $50. Nose bleeds are $10. Beer, Pizza and sandwiches are $3 and hotdogs and snacks are $2.

Everyone makes money and the fans can actually see the games. Not just rich folk.

Since: Nov 9, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:52 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Only if that were the world in which we live. It's all relative to what you're used to. Many moons back, yes, $250K would be a good income for an NBA player. This ain't then. 
If hamburger-flipping paid $250K on average, we'd all want to be expert hamburger-flippers. But it doesn't, in part because of supply & demand. Pretty much anyone can learn to flip hamburgers, and I'm not demeaning those who do. Been there done that myself. But it's an entry-level type of job, not usually a career choice. And the supply pool is very large. The number of folks who can do what the guys in NBA can do is very small. The population of Planet Earth is over six billion people. As in 6, followed by a "B." Most of them can probably learn how to flip hamburgers well enough to get paid for it. But out of those six billion-plus folks wandering around our lovely world, less than 500 of them get to don the uniform of an NBA team at any given time. 
That's supply & demand. The demand for guys who can dunk, pass, dribble, and cuss at referees has gone rather high over the last three decades. The supply has not kept pace. So the members of that particular pool get to command a large number of shiny new pennies. 
Are they overpaid? That depends. Is that new car you bought last year really worth the forty-thousand bucks you shelled out for it? Apparently you thought it was, which is why you forked it over. In the end, what something is worth comes down to how much someone is willing to pay for it. 
The marketplace isn't an exact science, but it usually does a pretty good job of measuring demand against supply. If and when enough pressure is brought to bear on the owners and players, one or both sides will bend enough that a deal is reached. Because the market - that's you and me - is demanding that the supply be reinstated or they'll go somewhere else with their entertainment dollars. I don't know what the details will look like, but I do know that unless they want their cash cow to wander off, both sides in this situation will work something out. Lots of finger-pointing, hollering, screaming, and the such is likely before then. But they'll work things out in the end. Assuming they don't want to go back to earning a paltry $250K per year. Or learn how to flip hamburgers. 

Since: Oct 29, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:42 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I agree whole-heartedly Sunday. I think the players are making a BIG mistake having LBJ being one of their main spokesmen. Besides, how can he talk about the sacredness of contracts after the collusion he took part in while still under contract to Cleveland?

If the players want to make progress, they need to pick some of their other superstars who are quieter, less confrontational, & who have a good head on their shoulders to lead the talks. I'd nominate Duncan, Durant, Nash, & Kobe as my negotiators.

LeBron needs to understand that many of us had stopped watching the NBA long ago & only got interested again when it looked like it might again become a true team sport & a sport which you'd let your kids enjoy because it wasn't about just street thugs.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:33 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I'm an NBA fan.

BUt...the REALITY of the situation is, NO other privately owned business has to share a contrcated percentage of their income-why should they ? The team has all the risk.

If an NBA job only paid $250,000 a year, maybe they would have all been Doctors and Lawyers and International Businessmen instead ?

The unfortunate truth is, these guys have always had an undeserved sense of entitlement. The term "professional" in sports doesn't require the ability to have an IQ over 98, know how to spell (or pronounce) "cat", or bring any responsibilty to employ anyone other than a pool boy and a personal trainer. The players will always be overpaid for what they do...even if they only make fraction of the current rate. 

LeBron James, and most of his peers, would be lucky to hold a job as a bouncer in a strip club without pro sports.

LeBron James doesn't understand that a dinner invitation by Warren Buffet isn't because he thinks LBJ is a peer, he's entertainment.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:33 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

 I used to be an NBA fan. Now it is virtually unwatchable. No teamwork, no systems, no "basketball" skills. It is a constant playground pickup game with spoiled brats. However, people keep attending games, buying the items and spending their money. Until I can get people to come watch me work and spend a ton of money to do it I can't complain about the players.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:10 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Lets be realistic.  The NBA does not draw the smartest class of people.  99% of all NBA players would still be playing this game even if the max salary was 250K a year..and probably be very happy to have a job.

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