Blog Entry

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 10:56 pm
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Posted by Matt Moore

Imagine you're the players of the NBA. You've known this was coming, you've hoped it could be avoided, you've even made a few compromises to try and avoid it. But here you are, locked out of the league you tried desperately for years to get into, staring at whatever the Istanbul version of Craigslist is. You know it's going to be a long fight, but it's one you're committed to winning (you even had T-Shirts made and everything!).

And while you understand that the people, the fans, the public have no real bearing on who ends up winning this thing, that neither side is going to look good in this lockout, every little bit helps. So how exactly are you going to get the public's support on your side of this ugly little spat with the powers that be?

Here's a five-step plan.

Step 1: Circle the wagons. And that means wrangling a few wild horses. You want the public to sympathize with you? Playing up the human interest angle isn't going to work here. You make zillions of dollars playing basketball while most people work in an office with a coffee machine that makes sludge and a terrible boss who likes baseball or something. But you don't need to engender sympathy, you just need to engender respect. And that means staying out of trouble.

It's the offseason. Guys aren't even under the leashes of their respective teams during workouts or events. But if the players want the public to take them seriously as a group of professionals fighting to protect their earning potential and wage-earning, they need to represent themselves as such. And respected professionals aren't arrested. When that happens respected professionals become disrespected (often former) professionals. DUI, assault, even things like speeding in extremely fast cars, all of these things contribute to an image the NBPA needs to keep at bay. This goes for every member of the union, regardless of age, race, or background. It's one thing when a player's irresponsible actions hurt himself, but now it can damage the collective efforts of the union.

Whether it's applying pressure to the right people, making personal pleas, or just downright babysitting, the player's union needs to make sure its athletes come across as suit-wearing professionals who are being prevented from going out and doing their job. That's harmed if it looks like they're having the time of their life, blowing the money they supposedly need to protect and getting in trouble.

Step 2: Spin the Euro bottle. Right now players escaping to Europe seems like a vacation. Fans feel like their favorite players (or Zaza Pachulia) are skipping out to go make money somewhere else while they're stuck without a team. The players need to first commit to who's going to go and who's not going to go. A decent combination of stars and role players should go, with players who have planned well enough to survive the lockout on their own staying home. Then the trick is to push this publicly as something they were forced to do. "Well, I need to play and I'm not allowed to here, so I went elsewhere." It should be made about staying in shape for their careers (for the NBA fans) and not about the money. In fact, players should pledge a certain amount of their income to charity, and a certain amount to a collective fund for the union.

The worst thing that can happen is this looking like a selfish avoidance of the problems here in the States. Every player is affected by the lockout, and every player should be working to bring it to an end. Pitching their European defection as an effort to do just that, to get the owners off their gulag-prison-guard-like stance, is the best way to go about it. Don't pretend your "family needs to eat" is the reason you're going. Make it about basketball.

Step 3: Level with the fans. A certain amount of PR in ugly situations like this involves saying things and taking stances you know make you sound like a moron. But those are often things to keep you out of trouble, a defensive position. What the players need to do is capitalize on the fact that they were the ones locked out, not put on strike, and level with the fans about how this looks.

When I asked Kevin Love about the lockout earlier this week, he said that fans "don't want to see billionaire owners and millionaire players bickering over money." This was a golden quote that could be dangerous if Love distanced himself from the rest of the union. But he didn't. He's firmly behind the union's efforts, but recognizing that people aren't going to feel sorry for the players, no matter how upset they are with the league's approach.

Being honest with the fans and acknowledging that there's a certain amount of ridiculousness to this process considering the amount of money involved doesn't hurt the players' case. They're not asking for change. They're just asking for things to stay the same. That should remain firmly in their wheelhouse of approach.

Step 4: Educate as much as possible. Your average person is going to be offended that players are doing anything but being grateful for the money they earn playing a game. Once again we return to the fact that so many people's jobs suck. It's offensive that someone who's life is awesome is saying his life isn't awesome enough.

So instead, focus on putting things in terms people can understand. "If your boss walked in one morning, even though your company has experienced record growth and critical success in the past year, and asked you to take a significant paycut, how would you react?" While spending time and resources on investing the public isn't going to win you anything with the players, it does remove something from the owners. The players aren't directly beholden to ticketholders and sponsors. The owners are. So the players need to spend some time to make the average season ticket holder understand that the players want to play, they aren't being allowed to.

No one needs to hear about BRI, or the difference in a hard cap. Just make it plain, that "billionaire owners made poor decisions and now say they want more money, and they want it from us, their workers, while they've fired their staffs until they get what they want." That's the reality of what's going on with the owners, and it paints them in about as bad a light as possible. If you really want to get in the trenches, release some information about how much some of these owners are actually worth, compared the amount of money they're squabbling with the players over.

But above all, follow Step 5.

Step 5. Be the better men.

This "negotiation" process quickly turned into one of prideful bickering and overdramatic gestures. The owners refuse to provide a counterproposal. The players release statements about how ridiculous the owners' proposal is. The owners bully up and take a hard line. The players show up in synchronized t-shirts. The owners let Stern do the talking. Kevin Garnett yells in a meeting.

This is not how business should be conducted.

This is not "Norma Rae." There's no moral high ground to be won. This is a business deal between two entities, both of which are doing exceptionally well in life. The players have every right to stand and fight for what they believe they deserve and protect the future earning potential of those in their profession. Anyone would do that, from plummers, to software designers, to middle management, to media members. No one wants to be sold up river or sell future people who will share their position up the river.


But behave with superior class. Don't get dragged into the mud. Peel back on the rhetoric. The public isn't sold that the players are greedy, they just haven't been sold on their requests being reasonable yet. By being the bigger men and taking the high road, they let the owners hang themselves by looking ridiculous and petulant, all the while the union is earning income through exhibition games and European contracts. The world's a smaller place, which means voices can carry more loudly. All the more reason to speak quietly, but firmly, and simply let the owners' red-faced bombastic approach peter out as the tide turns against them.

The union needs to be vigilant, reasonable, and clear. Do those things and their chances of putting the pressure back on the owners to crack will improve significantly.

Check back tomorrow for Part Two of our series and how the owners can crush the union's public support.
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Comments

Since: Aug 1, 2009
Posted on: July 15, 2011 7:57 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

making money "playing" a sport. Yes "playing" not "working". Freaking greed kills me!!!

This all day long!

The owners own the team, not the players. They are called players because they play basketball. Note the difference between player and WORKER, which these entitled punks would be without owners.

I could live incredibly comfortable for the rest of my life with just 1 average contract from the NBA. So why in the hell do they get to keep making the same millions when most owners are losing money?

I'll feel sorry for the players as soon as never, they don't deserve it.



Since: Jul 4, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 5:36 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

NBA players shared 2 billion dollars in 2010.  I'm all for the right for labor to organize, but come on, man.   I think average fans dont relate at all to these players.  How could they?  This lockout is going to set the league back 10 years.  Lebron is trying to reach billionaire status, and he has fewer rings than Brian Cardinal!  Always gotta work in a Lebron shot.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:03 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

One of their contracts is basically anywhere from 5 to 100 times more than a average fan of the NBA.

I would say they are underpaid by this comparison. How much more money does an NBA player generate then a typical NBA fan? 1,000 times more? 10,000 times more? Compare NBA athletes to wall street traders and actors and people who actually MAKE MONEY for the company that employs them. Dont start comparing NBA players to walmart cashiers. Its apples to oranges.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:53 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

Sorry, the fans aren't going to support anyone, especially the players. This country has become largely anti-union( I know, I'm part of a union and have felt that wrath) and will see the owners(though greedy and never sympathetic) have the right to dictate reasonable terms. The fact these guys make tens of millions to play a sport means they should play under "their rules."  The "average" fan works everyday, mostly under someone else's rules without the money, fame and adoration.

Speak for yourself. I dont try to compare myself or my job to that of pro athletes. Thats absurd. If I was drawing in as much money as these guys, and making as much money for my organization as they do, then I would feel EXACTLY the way they feel. Most Americans are replaceable workers. NBA players are the product I pay good money to watch and not as replaceable as you or I.



Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:48 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

Your average person is going to be offended that players are doing anything but being grateful for the money they earn playing a game. Once again we return to the fact that so many people's jobs suck. It's offensive that someone who's life is awesome is saying his life isn't awesome enough.

So instead, focus on putting things in terms people can understand. "If your boss walked in one morning, even though your company has experienced record growth and critical success in the past year, and asked you to take a significant paycut, how would you react?" While spending time and resources on investing the public isn't going to win you anything with the players, it does remove something from the owners. The players aren't directly beholden to ticketholders and sponsors. The owners are. So the players need to spend some time to make the average season ticket holder understand that the players want to play, they aren't being allowed to.
  Sorry, the fans aren't going to support anyone, especially the players. This country has become largely anti-union( I know, I'm part of a union and have felt that wrath) and will see the owners(though greedy and never sympathetic) have the right to dictate reasonable terms. The fact these guys make tens of millions to play a sport means they should play under "their rules."  The "average" fan works everyday, mostly under someone else's rules without the money, fame and adoration.

Very simply, fans don't like either side. Fans hate the business part of sports and could care less about how the money is divided. They will always beleieve owners are entitled to maximize profits and the players should be paid what the market dictates. That's capitalism. Fans want to simply watch the games, to often escape the drudgery of their lives or simply to be entertained watching great skill and at times drama. They root for the names on the jerseys and follow the flow of the season waiting for the post-season, the real payoff in any sport.

These disputes are often ignored by fans until the time where games are threatened. If the NBA shortens the season many will be angry, but honestly, The game may be better off. 82 regular season games is ridiculous.  If the season is cancelled, that's another story. Then, you'll need real PR to get many to comeback. They'll lose the ones they've gained this year with one of the best NBA seasons ever.



Since: Jul 31, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:32 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

Quadruple posting to be exact LOL But I hear you, yet look I wish I can get you the link on how many "EX NBA PLayers" go into bankruptcy. I also understand that the semi-legal monopoly concept, yet they are owners and I always will be one to say Owner's should be making more money and keeping the money to keep the league going, once you start giving leverage to the players and their union, it takes away from your gain and overall bottom line. Guaranteed contracts is bad practice, overpaying for mediocre players is definately bad practice, yet still they do this, and the players want more money? I mean a contract should be suffice to live on. What you do with your money afterwards well that's your problem, yet the greed of the players is really what kills me. Why do you deserve more? When the hell did sports figures become more interested in how much money they make? Greed kills me!!!



Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:19 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

Um, Javitto--I get the triple posting; the CBS system sucks.  But: the owners aren't making money--or at least that's what they're saying--and they basically admit it's because of their own bad business practices (guaranteed contracts, overpaying for mediocre players, taking ridiculous risks on high-schoolers and European bigs).  Now, to some of these guys, a sports team is just a toy or a loss leader.  For others, you're correct: it's about making money.  But what happens to a business owner who cannot keep himself from doing things that cost him more money than he makes?  He goes out of business, which is what these guys deserve.  All of them.  They've got a semi-legal monopoly (how many business owners get that, Javitto?) and they cannot agree on how to keep the goose that lays the golden eggs alive.  Death penalty, right there, for a business.

Players are simply trying to get a fair share of what money there is to be made, negotiating a salary like you or i would.  You don't like unions, great, that's your privilege.  But if the owners get one (and again, basically the government has said they do) ... it seems only fair.  Ask yourself: who's really the better business here: the guys who started the WNBA, are mis-managing the D-League, invested billions of dollars trying to develop overseas basketball, AND managed to lose money when attendance and TV revenues are higher than ever before, or the over-grown children who spend lots of money on cars, jewelry, and other trinkets? 



Since: Jul 31, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:14 pm
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

The reality is, most of the NBA nowadays are kids that went to college one year, and that's because they had to, and in reality didn't really care for education as they knew they would be cashing in on a contract. One of their contracts is basically anywhere from 5 to 100 times more than a average fan of the NBA. The owners should be worried about their bottom line, as an owner you are always try to make more money year in and year out. That's why your an owner, as a player you are playing for a contract and for the love of the sport. When they become owners of something , they will understand more the significance on why the owners want more money. Now as for David Stern, he has to go already, he has weakened the game throughout the years. He weakened it when he became worried about the hip hop/tattooinng element that was coming in the mid 90's and then it just seemed that the refs took to much control of the game after that. Right now, you have a bunch of kids making decisions in the NBA. You have a dictator as commissioner, and well owners that are right in making more money. Why should I who is an owner start listening to my employee's rant about making more money? I mean that's what owners do, they make more money off of their employee's hardwork. Why should the NBA be any different or any other sport for that matter. The players of today are the most greediest I have ever seen, and it dissappoints me how the love for the game is less of a priority, than the love for the money!!! I wish I can play a sport for money, cause any money I get, is great why? Because I am making money off of something I want and love to do. I would play for $50k a year. Oh by the way I make more money in what i'm doing, yet I would quit to live on 50k a year playing a sport. I would be in shape year round, and making money "playing" a sport. Yes "playing" not "working". Freaking greed kills me!!!



Since: Jul 31, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:51 am
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

The reality is, most of the NBA nowadays are kids that went to college one year, and that's because they had to, and in reality didn't really care for education as they knew they would be cashing in on a contract. One of their contracts is basically anywhere from 5 to 100 times more than a average fan of the NBA. The owners should be worried about their bottom line, as an owner you are always try to make more money year in and year out. That's why your an owner, as a player you are playing for a contract and for the love of the sport. When they become owners of something , they will understand more the significance on why the owners want more money. Now as for David Stern, he has to go already, he has weakened the game throughout the years. He weakened it when he became worried about the hip hop/tattooinng element that was coming in the mid 90's and then it just seemed that the refs took to much control of the game after that. Right now, you have a bunch of kids making decisions in the NBA. You have a dictator as commissioner, and well owners that are right in making more money. Why should I who is an owner start listening to my employee's rant about making more money? I mean that's what owners do, they make more money off of their employee's hardwork. Why should the NBA be any different or any other sport for that matter. The players of today are the most greediest I have ever seen, and it dissappoints me how the love for the game is less of a priority, than the love for the money!!! I wish I can play a sport for money, cause any money I get, is great why? Because I am making money off of something I want and love to do. I would play for $50k a year. Oh by the way I make more money in what i'm doing, yet I would quit to live on 50k a year playing a sport. I would be in shape year round, and making money "playing" a sport. Yes "playing" not "working". Freaking greed kills me!!!



Since: Jul 31, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:44 am
 

So you want to win the people's support: NBPA

The reality is, most of the NBA nowadays are kids that went to college one year, and that's because they had to, and in reality didn't really care for education as they knew they would be cashing in on a contract. One of their contracts is basically anywhere from 5 to 100 times more than a average fan of the NBA. The owners should be worried about their bottom line, as an owner you are always try to make more money year in and year out. That's why your an owner, as a player you are playing for a contract and for the love of the sport. When they become owners of something , they will understand more the significance on why the owners want more money. Now as for David Stern, he has to go already, he has weakened the game throughout the years. He weakened it when he became worried about the hip hop/tattooinng element that was coming in the mid 90's and then it just seemed that the refs took to much control of the game after that. Right now, you have a bunch of kids making decisions in the NBA. You have a dictator as commissioner, and well owners that are right in making more money. Why should I who is an owner start listening to my employee's rant about making more money? I mean that's what owners do, they make more money off of their employee's hardwork. Why should the NBA be any different or any other sport for that matter. The players of today are the most greediest I have ever seen, and it dissappoints me how the love for the game is less of a priority, than the love for the money!!! I wish I can play a sport for money, cause any money I get, is great why? Because I am making money off of something I want and love to do. I would play for $50k a year. Oh by the way I make more money in what i'm doing, yet I would quit to live on 50k a year playing a sport. I would be in shape year round, and making money "playing" a sport. Yes "playing" not "working". Freaking greed kills me!!!


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