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: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:09 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

  You might as well just cancel the entire season, because this is going no place fast!  This is the only league that the players have way to much power.  They will all find ways to make money while the owners suffer, but than again "who cares"!  I'll just watch re-runs of M*A*S*H or something. lol  I love the platapus comment, I'm a big fan of Perry on Phineas and Ferb! 

Since: Sep 13, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:08 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Eh oh well, college players play real basketball because they love it. Majority will never go pro in it yet pour their hearts out on the court and show real passion and emotion for the game. NBA players play to make millions of dollars only. And they have shown how much they care about the game by rather not playing over f**king money they already have and do not need. A loss of season will do them a lot of good actually, Stern should drive the stake right into them and cancel the season entirely if a deal is not met in another couple weeks. That will truly show how much they care about playing. They could have met after last tues. more times throughout the week, but instead wait till the last minute sunday night and monday, really!?! Hope you all go broke and have to start selling your cars and such off. When does college hoops start? :D

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:07 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

When is enough money truly enough?   If  a player gets $1 million by the time the agent and the Irs are done with him, he's lucky to see 50% of it.  Does it matter that you make $50 million instead of $53 million? Money mouth  How about both the players and owners take less and we cut ticket prices for the fans?  Let's say they play 70 games and a player makes $14 million that equals $200,000 a game, or lets break it down further $38,356 a day, every day during the year.  $1,598.17 every hour, even when you are sleeping.  Yes, the players and superstars have great talent, but let's stop the nonsense.  Over $38,000 every day for some of these superstars.  The owners are even worse.  C'mon guys, stop the crap, no one should even bother watching when they come back.   D-Wade and company please take note that some of us fans support our families on less than what you make on one day and we try to save up to take our kids to see you guys play.  It isn't worth it anymore.  Why should we care about you guys when its obvious you don't care about any of Cryus? 

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:04 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

R E P L A C E M E N T    P L A Y E R S

Since: Apr 8, 2009
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:02 am

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

I always thought that if it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and looks like a duck you still better make sure its not a platypus cause those suckers can get mean.

Since: Jul 22, 2007
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:59 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

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

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:55 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

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.

Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:54 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

I remember when during the NFL lockout, way before even preseason games were in danger of being cancelled, fans were screaming for a deal to be done.

Even when regular season games are cancelled in the NBA, people are saying "who cares? cancel the whole season"

LOL shows you how little people care about missing NBA games when there's football to be watched

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:43 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Oh No! My whole fall travel plans were based on seeing the Thunder and the Jazz playing absolutely meaningless games on a non-descript Thursday in December. What am I to do? Stern; please take these NBA fools to the limit and bring some sanity to pro b-ball! Nobody cares til February.

Since: Mar 8, 2011
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:42 pm

Stern cancels two weeks over labor impasse

Movies aren't competitive in the same way that sports are, so that's a horrible analogy. If a sports league's structure is broken, and my team is never going to be any good it effects my enjoyment of the sport. If you're a fan of a team that pays its players $40 million and another team routinenly spends $140 or $240 million and you have to compete against them you're pretty much doomed to fail. Whether you decide to go see a low budget movie or a summer blockbuster, the amount of money spent on the actors has no effect on your enjoyment of either movie. If your sports team has a cheap owner and you're involved in a league where the top owners are willing to spend whatever it takes to be successful, you're not going to ever see a championship caliber team.

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