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: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:57 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse


Since: Aug 9, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:44 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Make these worthless thugs sell there 10 cars and 5 houses. Cancel the season, no one will miss these criminals.

Since: Jun 3, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:15 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

The problem lies with the fans, who have no say-so in negotiations.....or do they? The NBA owners and management know that fans are so set on the big name players that they feel like it is a must to holdout until they can get them back on the court on the owners' terms. Back in the 70's and 80's when football would have a stoppage, they had replacement players. In today's world, fans aren't willing to compromise from having the best of the best. The MJs, Kobes, Shaqs, LeBrons, and other elite athletes came about through the ranks of pee-wee league, middle & high school, and mostly college. The next generation of talent could have a fresh start if you, the FANS, were willing to go through growing pains, and the owners were willing to take some lumps along the way. But NO! Everyone in today's world wants instant gratification or nothing. And just what has that got you? It got you, the FANS, a lockout that nearly destroyed the NFL season, and will destroy the NBA if not careful. Sometimes, in many ways, college basketball is more desirable to watch than the NBA. If you let the players go that are holding out and start with a fresh crop, then you will see hungrier and more appreciative players!!! That is unless greed rears its ugly head and gets out of control again. Everyone thinks there are only two options, lockout or make a deal, but there are other options.......just no one will be willing to sacrifice

Since: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:05 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

cancel the season.  Note I am a diehard Basketball fan, my father had season tickets and I have every year but this one.  I could use a year off and save some money.  Even if they play I am commited to not going to a single game or watching it.  My focus is on Football, NCAA football and basketball.  The owners own the teams, the players are employees.  The players cannot tell an owner what to do.  If I didn't show up to work I would be fired.  
Cancel the season.

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:55 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

I say cancel the season too.  It was the best thing to happen to hockey, they lost an entire season but once all parties involved got over themselves and worked it out, hockey came back stronger and healthier than ever.  No reason why basketball cant do the same thing.

Not just basketball, but my goodness!  These guys get paid millions of dollars to play a game!  Nothing wrong with that if you can get it but is there really a lifestyle difference between 10 million and 12 million dollars?  I would be happy with half of that!

And dont think that the owners have nothing to lose here, cancelling anything is money out of everyones pocket.  Including the poor peanut vendors, and they didn't do anything wrong.  Maybe the players and owners should be responsible for paying them too until this thing gets worked out. 

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:05 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Who cares?  Cancel the season.  Football > Basketball

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 5:27 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

I've probably been in the owner's corner during these negotiations and I still might be; but the tactics here seem ingenuous at best. Yo, Stern, just tell the players it's a hardline. However Mr. Stern, you can solve the competitive problem by fuller revenue sharing. Your stance is going to harden b/c you are losing $$$? Come on! You were supposedly losing money while the season was going on! This means the negotiations are actually saving the league money. Mr. Stern, the Comedy Store awaits!

Since: Apr 23, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:55 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

 STICK YOUR GROUND DAVID STERN !!!! THEY WILL COME CRAWLING BACK FOR THE LIFESTYLE THEY GOTTA HAVE ... I personal am NOT going to a NBA game again. Cost doesnt = the fun ... It drains my pocket and My family deserves to ALL go to a game not just 2 of us. So MLB will get my money now. MY whole family (5) can make a MLB game on the cost of 2 NBA tickets in the Same seating area.

  So cancel the season , I don't care !! And I'm not the only one that feels this way.  

Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:12 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

We could still be weeks away from the NBA and the NBPA reaching an agreement that ends the lockout.  Getting all the players back and battle-ready will take additional weeks.  By that time it will probably be too late to save the season in any graceful way.

By declaring only the first two weeks of the season lost, David Stern is keeping the pressure on both sides to come to terms sooner rather than later.  If Stern declared up-front that the whole season is lost, there would suddenly be no sense of urgency, and the talks would drag on longer.

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:58 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Why don't they get Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman to make a movie-The Replacements Sequel?

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