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: Mar 27, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:13 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

no one will even notice the NBA is gone until February,
Agreed 100% Crusader!  Even in Feb. I will be closely watching NHL games and looking forward to the Stanley cup playoffs, and like you stated, baseball and March madness will be right around the corner.  Except for the avid NBA fan who doesn't even know he/she is being duped by the league with excessive hype and showboating, nobody will miss these greedy prima donnas.  Cancel the season now before I have a chance to get nauseous again!

Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:14 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

With the NFL in full swing, and MLB amping up with the championship series/World Series, the NBA is just sucking third teet. And with college basketball on the horizon, there is no love from me for these overpaid whiners in the pro game. Why not take some TV revenues and start paying the college athletes a small amount of money so that they might start staying in school a little longer. This is turn would maybe allow some of these kids to actually get a degree just in case they get locked out at the next level and have to find a real job to pay the bills like the rest of us. This would also allow the smaller D-1 schools to get more quality players since the player pool is so watered down now because these athletes are only in school for one or two years before they become a lottery pick. The NBA will not be missed, and if you want to see the NBA stars, watch the Euro leagues on the internet- they will all be there if that's where the money is...

Since: Apr 19, 2010
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:19 pm

Don't cancel any games! Get new players.

I think they should not cancel a single game just hire new players. I for one will go away from the NBA as I did in baseball after there strike and to this day this season ticket holder has not seen one baseball game on T.V or live. If they screw me "the fan" I will do my best to return the favor even though they won't miss one disgusted fan. I understand employee's not doing what you want or even striking but I say hire new players and offer some discounts/incentives and move forward if the old players want a job they know where to come find it or let them play overseas or form their own league.

Since: May 13, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:41 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

lol they should suffer ok let me ask all of you like me who love sports one question why do they do it ? THE FANS what a load of bs owners and players both suffers from greed to me it doesnt matter screw the nba who needs it

Since: Jun 3, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:39 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Not many of you realize the part YOU, the FAN, played in the lockout in the NFL and NBA, and previously the NHL. People talk about worthless thugs and greedy owners, they are only that way because FANS shell out big bucks to watch the players play and buy their apparel. So before any of you get on here and cry that "these thugs" should work 40-60 hours or that these "millionaires and billionaires" should see what it's like to be out of work, just remember who paid their enormous salaries..... YOU THE FAN!!!!! Until YOU THE FAN stop paying big bucks to see all the professional sporting games, please stop YOUR whining and griping cause you're the one who created them and supply them with their luxuries.....

Since: May 3, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:30 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Ha Ha Ha!  Glad to hear it.  Hope they never play again.  NBA = Nothing But A$$es

Since: Feb 5, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:26 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Good. Hopefully the whole season is next. Sorry to all you NBA fans but I would be just fine if I never saw another NBA game on tv ever again. Do yourselves a favor and watch college instead where the "amatuers" are hustling and giving effort on every play and actually playing defense
Exactly!!! The NBA is a joke. All these guys want to do is make a highlight reel. There is very little defense played. Bring back the passion and heart that I witnessed in 70's, 80's and early to mid 90's or dont come back at all. We can go watch the Globetrotters if we want to watch a bunch of clowns on a Basketball court.

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:24 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

I hope they cancel the entire season. I hope they cancel next season too. College basketball is more enjoyable to watch anyway, and with the NFL, no one will even notice the NBA is gone until February, then MLB spring training will be right around the corner. Sorry, NBA! You are too easily replaced.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:18 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

The NBA is the worst as far as overpaying complete bums. The owners made their bed and caused this problem by letting it go this long.
I could careless. I'll always be a Pistons fan, but to me, the NBA has gone down in quality over the last several years.
Officiating or the lack of is the single biggest reason for me. They have allowed carrying and traveling to become acceptable & they bend over backwards with favoritism to the Kobe's & LeBrons, while the average NBA player can't even get a call on his best night.
**** the NBA..............ALL of them on BOTH sides!
Hope it all comes crashing back down to reality.
NO DirecTv NBA League Pass for this kat this season........I've already decided to boycott both sides.

Since: Jan 16, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:07 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Personally, I'm not concerned for the players.  Some, like Kobe, Wade, and LeBron, have enough money to survive during the lockout.  However, some players live a modest life and rely on paychecks.  Although they still make good money, those are the ones I feel for.  However, the ones that are really getting hurt are the hourly workers that have to find new work or salaried employees that are being locked out too.  My friend works in the offices for the Red Wings and gets paid $40,000/year.  For his age, it's not bad money but he would be in a lot of trouble if he suddenly had to find another job (especially in Michigan).  That being said, I don't personally understand what the owners and players are disputing about but it shouldn't be this complicated.  There should be enough money to go around to satisfy both owner and player.  Get a deal done..

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