Blog Entry

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:15 am
NEW YORK -- Citing an impasse with the players' association over matters that seemed trivial entering the home stretch of negotiations, David Stern announced Monday night the cancellation of regular season games for the second time in his more than a quarter century as commissioner.

Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season after more than 13 hours of bargaining over two days with the National Basketball Players Association left the two sides "very, very far apart on virtually all issues."

"I'm sorry to report, particularly for the thousands of people that depend on our industry for their livlihood, that the first two weeks of the season have been canceled," Stern said.

Asked if there was no chance of having an 82-game season, Stern said, "Yes, I think that's right. And every day that goes by, we need to look at further reductions in what's left in the season."

The biggest issue that separated the parties in negotiations that began in earnest with the owners' initial proposal in January 2010 -- the split of revenues -- was not the tipping point that led to the cancellation. It was system issues -- luxury tax, contract length, length of the CBA, annual raises, and the like -- meaning that both sides will miss games over details neither imagined they would.

"I'm convinced this was all just part of the plan," said Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.

Indeed, a person involved in the negotiations told that the cancellation seemed "pre-ordained."

"This could have been solved so easily, with any amount of effort," the person said.

Indeed, the two sides engaged in a flurry of lengthy talks over the past two weeks, culminating with six hours Sunday night and seven hours on Monday -- all dealing with system issues with no sunstantive discussion of the split of basketball-related income. Speaking on the sidewalk outside the Upper East Side hotel where negotiations took place, Stern delivered a laundry list of items that league negotiators found most objectionable about the players' proposals: contract length, length of the CBA, use of exceptions by tax-paying teams, the tax levels and what deputy commissioner Adam Silver described as the "frequency of the tax."

The latter point, according to a union source, apparently was in reference to the owners desire to punish teams that repeatedly spend over new luxury-tax thresholds in order to prevent "runaway teams" in big markets from maintaining an unfair competitive advantage over small-market teams.

Such negotiating points seemed minor heading into the final push to save regular season games, given that last Tuesday, the two sides had shaved about $1.6 billion off the economic gap that separated them. Few observers or participants in the talks expected games to be lost over technical deal points -- the likes of which could've been agreed upon and written up by low-level attorneys working at home on the weekend while players reported for training camps.

But Stern characterized the distance between the sides as "a gulf," and added, "We just can't get over the system hurdles."

"It makes no sense for us to operate under the current model, where taxpayers ... have a huge advantage over other teams," Silver said.

Unsurprisingly, each side had a different view of the others' vision of the system they were negotiating to achieve. According to a union source, the players agreed to concessions on contract length -- reducing them from five- and six-year deals in the previous CBA to five- and four-year deals -- and offered to lower the mid-level exception from its previous level of about $5.8 million to $5 million. The source said league negotiators were insisting on a reduction in the mid-level to $3 million a year.

Not mundane enough for you? Other aspects of the impasse included annual raises. The players offered to reduce them from 10.5 percent and 8 percent for "Larry Bird" free agents under the previous deal to 10.5 percent and 9 percent for Bird free agents and 8 percent and 7 percent for other players. Hunter said owners wanted to forbid tax-paying teams from using the Bird exception, meaning they would need to have cap space to retain one of their Bird free agents.

The totality of the owners' system offers -- including a more punitive luxury-tax model that would increase to as much as 4-1 and beyond for repeat offenders -- would have the same effects as a hard salary cap, Hunter said.

"My attitude is, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck and it looks like a duck, it's a duck," Hunter said. "... We came up with proposals to stiffen the tax, but we do not want a hard cap. You can't say, 'OK, we agree we're going to move away from a hard cap,' but then do everything else that brings about the same result."

Stern maintained that the owners' latest proposals did not include a hard team salary cap, and also would allow players to retain guaranteed contracts and would not roll back existing contracts.

"We tried awfully hard," Stern said. "We made, in our view, concession after concession."

Stern predicted that the economic loss from canceling games would cause the league's negotiating position to harden because "we have to account for the losses that we are incurring." He stopped short of saying the entire season is in jeopardy, but added that further cancellations would be dealt with in two-week increments.

"I don't know that the season is in jeopardy," Hunter said. "I think it would be foolish for them to kill the season. We're coming off the best season in the history of the NBA, and I'm not so sure in this kind of economy if there is a protracted lockout whether the league will recover."


Since: Apr 14, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:44 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Wow, there are a lot of ignorant a$$holes on here.  Thugs, n**gers?  What a bunch of racist, classist pigs.  Many kids get into basketball in order to stay out of trouble.  And why?  Because they have the hopes of going to the NBA and saving their lives and the lives of their families.  Even though few actually make it, they still believe and keep trying.  This teaches perseverance, hard work, dedication and more. 

Come back NBA!  The playoffs were great last year.  The normal teams were not there in the end and the underdogs finally beat the favorites.  I will watch NHL, NFL and collegiate sports in the mean time, but I can't wait to be able to watch the NBA as well.  The more sports to watch, the better!

Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:01 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

What do you call a hundred lawyers chained together and thrown into the ocean?  A good start.

Same here.

Preseason and two weeks down.  Forty more weeks to go!

The fanatic and the casual NBA fan will have to look elsewhere to find thugish, self-centered, arena-strutting posturing all done to a hip-hop beat!  Good riddance, NBA.  Next time, try offering basketball.  What you're putting out now is nothing close to it!

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:46 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Spot on.  The American sports watching public has other things to occupy our time...the NFL, MLB playoffs, for some the NHL, and then the various NCAA sports.  The only people who are getting hurt in this are the people who work in the arenas, who know are out of a job that probably paid little in the first place.

And, when the NBA comes back, I would imagine this idiotic pi$$ing match between billionaires and millionaires who are percieved by most as thugs (read the boards, its the most common description of the players) will leave the arenas with even less fans that beforel.  Well that and the fact the tickets are already way too high and the game on the court is garbage.  

From a guy who has played basketball and been a fan all of my life, bring on hockey and the NFL and the NCAA. 

Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 6:20 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

This means no new roster updates for NBA 2k12 game. Too bad... LOL

Since: Feb 2, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 4:36 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Nope...still don't care.  

Since: Apr 14, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 4:24 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Good, good.  All is going according to plan.  Two weeks later, I hope they cancel all games for calendar year 2011.  After all, the association needs time to sign free agents, rookies and players with expiring contracts.  There is going to be a learning curve for the new deal.  Fat chance.  I can't see the owners coming off the 50/50 split of BRI and the players' 53/47 split.  Both sides are adamant and entrenched in their positions, so there is a good chance both sides will make the right choice and torch the 2011-12 season.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 4:20 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

These players are fools...

They can't "win", because to meet their demands, would mean the NBA would go bankrupt. Would they rather make millions and play in the NBA, or....the alternative....YOU'RE NOT GETTING PAID AT ALL, NOW. Is that better ? 

Employers that can't afford their employees demands either find new employees, or go out of business. The NBA lost $300 million last year. There is no MORE in that number, for players OR owners.

The immediate problem is simple: The NBA is losing a lot of money and players don't care- they still want more. Owners have to create a system that gives them a CHANCE to stay in business, while players want GUARANTEED money, and more of it. There IS NO COMPROMISE possible here, unless players are willing to make it.

Owners have overpaid and overvalued players, giving them the false impression that the players were more important than owners, fans, and the NBA itself. The NBA can find other players. They're all out of owners willing to go broke.   

Stupidity, not solidarity, is what is at work here for the NBPA. 

Cancel the season. That may make things clearer.

Since: Jun 25, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:57 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

No one is going to miss the NBA until  MLB, the NFL & March Madness have run their course. Maybe this bring this will bring some long needed price restructuring back to pro sports. And maybe we'll see Jack Nicholson back in a movie again. 

Since: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:46 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Cancel the whole thing forever.  College basketball is more exciting anyway.  The NBA is a cancelled season away from being bumped by the NHL!!

Since: Jan 25, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:33 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Screw the NBA - follow the NHL instead.

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