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: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:44 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

It feels odd to say this. But its like this lockout just doesn't feel like a major lockout.

I mean when the NBA had the previous lockout, it was really big news and while the current lockout is big news... it just doesn't feel like something thats important to say the least.

Now I know jobs are effected and it hurts the ones not in the front office, but the NBA in a sense doesn't feel that special anymore.

The NFL will always be king because of what it pulls in, MLB while a more boring type of game still has it great moments because of the playoffs.

The NHL while far more unpopular in my opinion, is relatively more stabble and has quality games especially during the playoffs.

The NBA has become too high scoring in my opinion, and that there is no real defence to shut down a game. While it's fun to watch people keep on scoring points, its also great to watch players just get shut down by defence and see frustration on their face. Not to mention the team aspect and real chemistry. The Heat while probably having very high caliber players, have shown to have absolutely no chemistry at all on the court and the Mavricks were able to make the Heat look like fools.

Just getting back into the point. In my eyes, I really don't care if the NBA comes back because the league right now is just not special nothing eye poping to watch except egos and money thrown around. I know there is a lot of great history, and while I live in Wisconsin with the Bucks, I would still watch the playoffs if it seemed special and right now it just doesn't feel that way.

Since: Nov 8, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:43 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

the only thing better would be the whole season cancelled...Cool

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:26 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

You racist bastards on this site. If Larry Bird was still one of the top players there would not be a lockout.  The NBA wants to make it where star players can't switch teams, this is not slavery. You own the team not the players.
I'd like to gather up all these little nerds making racist comments, throw em all on a huge plane..and drop them off in the middle of Compton or something, and then see what they have to say.


Since: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:23 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

You racist bastards on this site. If Larry Bird was still one of the top players there would not be a lockout.  The NBA wants to make it where star players can't switch teams, this is not slavery. You own the team not the players.

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:17 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Keep the 'regular cheerleaders'...Maybe give them more camera time and interviews....If the cheerleaders strike too, then all is lost for the NBA...

Actually this give the NBA cheerleaders more time to work on their doctorates and splitting of the atoms, as the media always tries to make them sound like they are all geniuses, instead of a bunch of wannabe prostitutes ready to pounce on any player that will take them..

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:16 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

LOL... Once again idiots fail to disapoint us. You go on your computer, jump to CBS Sports. Read an article,log in and  comment on it..all that time and effort, and your going to tell us you don't care about the NBA? Who are you kidding?

 Who cares? NOBODY cares that the NBA loses games-- because they have a ridiculous, long, USELESS 82 game season that matters little!  In the NFL - people cared because it's only 16 games. The NBA can go away until February and NOBODY would care

You might not care. But by saying "nobody" cares you are including me. I do care. Fans who attend the games in the millions and watch the game in the millions all over the world care a lot. Your in the minority. 

Useless? Funny, I just watched a 162 games of baseball that were very entertaining. So basically what your saying is the NBA should adopt a WNBA schedule and contract down to 8 or 10 teams? Yea, that would be very exciting.

 Can you take your wife and children to a basketball game for under $60 dollars and get enjoyment that will last a lifetime.....Hardly. Players are greedy bastards that don't realize how fortunate that they can play a game and make millions. With little to no social skill or values. So close the season down and bring in scrubs or scabs and lower ticket prices and salaries at all cost.

This coming from a guy who is a Yankees fan. Durant making 15 million a year is "greedy", but A Rod making 30 million is what? fair? Jeter being over paid? how about Texeira? How about AJ Burnett? Baseball has the most corrupt and broken system of all.

 Cancel the f**king season tired of all these ghetto ni**ers. Go form a league with black owners to pay you ignorant overpaid assholes.
Another douchebag Yankees fan talking about athletes being overpaid, that in itself is beyond priceless. There just mad 200 million couldn't buy them a world series this year. Maybe spend 400 next season and you'll get there. Racist bastard. 

If you don't like the NBA game, don't watch it..don't support it..I think we can do with a few racist fans who view the world in black and white. I feel sorry for anyone who has to cross paths in your lifetime, including wives, children and have a very small minded view of the world. 

Since: Dec 6, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:15 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Hey cbsports - I dare you to stop writing about the NBA for a week,  You and every other sports site.  Let's see how quickly they negotiate when they realize nobody gives a damn.

Since: May 20, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:13 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

As a fan you hate to see the league cancel games, but that may be short term thinking. The NBA needs to address its competitive issues above all else and may need a year to fully address them in a meaningful way. Unfortunately it seems that the negotiations have been conducted with the mentality of getting a 'win' over the other side. Stern is clearly in the owners' corner and I believe he lacks the vision and the nerve to actually address the ong term problems of the league. His limited view of his responsiblities is reflected by the way the league pits cities against each other in a race to build arenas for a limited number of franchises. It is also reflected by these negotiations in which the commissioner helps the owners win their negotiations with the players rather than addressing the long term issues. 

If the league actually cancels the entire season they would be well served to look for new competent leadership.  

Since: Sep 26, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:12 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Do us all a favor and cancel the season. No one cares. Take the year and take more English and speech classes so at least you sound like you have a GED and did not step directly out of the ghetto. Also enroll your wives. I caught their act on some NBA wives show. I thought w/ all the money these guys make their wives would be hotties. Instead they are larger then their husbands, attack each other literally, and have mouths that would make a sailor proud. Talk about classless. They are about as feminine as a transvestite. These woman (and I use that word loosely) make their husbands look like Rhode Scholars. One word comes to mind. Ghettofied. Bring on NCAA ball, w/ Sully and the Buckeyes.

Since: Mar 2, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:10 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

For myself, I run 1 Fantasy NBA league and I DELETED the League tonight.  Of course, I sent polite e-mails to each manager.  I was also in 2 other leagues and dropped my teams.  As a solid Bulls Fan and NBA fan, I am sick of this crap !!!  Now I can concentrate on HOCKEY and College Basketball for the hard core Winter months.

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