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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: Sep 17, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:37 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

NBA: No Basketball again.  Who cares if we ever see these overpaid babies again.  how stupid can you be.  Dont they realize the God given talent they have at entertaining people.  They should be thankful even if the owners offer them only 40%.  What other business would give their employees over half their business earnings.  None that I know of.  Are these players so blind to the fact that the majority of their fans will never earn 1million dollars in 40years of work?  The players cant be blamed entirely for this mess.  The owners, in their greed, agreed to pay the players so much money that, in their words they are going broke.  I say. let's do away with the NBA entirely and start a new league.  let's teach these billionares and millionares what unemployment feels like, or what it feels like to work 40-60 hr weeks for 40 years.  I say someone should approach Anheiser-Busch. Miller, Nike and see if they would be willing to start a new league or sponsor the CBA and pull all their advertising dollars out of the NBA and let it go broke.  If they don;t perhaps we should all boycott their products. In this business world, money talks.  Who controls the money?  For once it's us little guys. If we all band together, we can bring all these billionares and millionares to their knees.  We are the ones who pay them, not the owners.  It's not corporate America. Not Nike, Miller or Budweiser.  We do by purchasing these products.  The players have snubbed their nose to me for the last time.  I will never purchase another item from a company who has advertised an NBA game.  I will from now on buy the competetors brand.  This is how we will get this strike settled.  Not David Stern, Not Derek Fischer or Billy Hunter.  We as the public by withdrawing out money from the sponsors will have a bigger impact on this game than any labor negotiator.  Now is the time to start.  America lets roll.! ! !

Since: Sep 7, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:23 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Frankly! Ain't  NOT a lot of people care about the NBA as to the NFL.  At the end, the PLAYERS are the loser during this lock-out.  The FAN will save $ by not spending $ on the tickets.  GO AHEAD and LOCK OUT the whole season...........bunch of greedy UNION employees (yes, that most of you NBA players)

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:30 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Hasta LaVista Baby!

Since: Sep 26, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:21 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Seems pretty obvious by the ratio who state good riddance to those that say they will miss the game 3 out of 4 really do not care. These guys are cutting their own throats. If all the top talent plays on 3 or 4 teams who in their right mind will want to see the other teams that canít compete. Nice to watch the Lakers and Chicago but who is going to watch and pay to see Toronto vs. the Clippers? As long as you have the patients run the asylum it his headed for failure. I have never seen a man go from one of the most liked players to one of the most despised like LBJ. I understand the bitterness from the Cavs fans but this fool got the majority of the country to hate him because of how he handled his business. And that is a fact as his popularity numbers reflect prior to the decision and after. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:18 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

The Billionaires and the Millionaires are facing off.  I actually have to side with the billionaires on this one.  The players think a 50-50 split isn't good enough for them; what a bleeping joke.  It isn't the players who spend millions of dollars on arenas, upkeep, and employees.  If it wasn't for the owners, the players would be playing for free in a park somewhere.  

The agents are the real culprits here.  They are greedy and have driven up the costs of attending games to a point where the average fan who follows basketball can't afford to go to any games.  And, of course, whenever the owners want to actually turn a profit, the agents use slavery as a metaphor.  
Agents have ruined sports.  The entire sports landscape would be better off without them.  I wish owners would just refuse to deal with them.  I would also like to see the owners run an open shop and hire "scabs" this season.  The players are too greedy now.  The average player is so busy blowing money on his posse that he can't see what he is doing to the game.  They deserve to sit on the sidelines and watch players who really want to play wear their uniforms while they sit and argue over how much more than 50 percent they "deserve."

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:13 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Let's throw away this season... Why not give Dan Gilbert time to build up the team to beat Lebron James? Plus<span style="color: #333333;">, no really cares about next seasin

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:07 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

The only sad part about this is those people who are able to earn a living from working in the concession stands, t-shirt stands, security, etc.  All because the players and the owners are all a bunch of greedy, selfish, self-centered bastards that only care about their own bank accounts.

As long as David Stern is commissioner this is the way it will always be.  David Stern = corruption at it's finest IMO.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:50 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Neither saide cares about the fans.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:49 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Noles506 there's no use in arguing with idiots. Others might mistake who the real idiot is and you can't change the idiot's made up mind anyway no matter how valid your argument is because, they're idiots. But props for trying anyways.

Since: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:48 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Watch your mouth you racist cunt, you are mad because you don't make as much as a black person. STFU and go back to your trailer.

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