Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 3:56 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
In a turn of events that should surprise absolutely no one, the owners got what they wanted. They've locked the players out and are now digging in for the long wait until the union cracks and they can get what they want: more money. I'm not going to go off the deep end on some proletariat hop, but either side in this should stay away from any sort of moral plea in the press.
But nonetheless, here we are, with what is rapidly becoming an ideological dispute instead of a business negotiation. And the damage as this lockout extends will go way beyond just the gross number of luxury vehicles owned. Here's a look at the lockout and the damage done:
The League: Well, so much for all that momentum. Riding high off of the best season in years, the league now faces a monumental setback. Baseball took a hit. The NBA took a hit, last time.
David Stern is nearing the end of his tenure. Is this going to be the last big thing he's known for? Is this the note he's going out on, being the carriage driver that allowed the ownership to drive the league off the cliff? Stern has a legacy to watch over, and while his constant and long-time devotion to the owners, taking very much an "I work for the owners, I'm not bigger than them" attitude, he is responsible as a caretaker of this sport. It's his job to watch out for its legacy, for the "good of the game." And if this lockout winds up as a complete disaster, the sports version of "Judgment Day" from the "Terminator" series, that's going to go on his permanent record. The league faces a responsibility to make sure that the backbone they stick up for so much, the owners, doesn't destroy the whole body.
Owners: Well, for starters, their public perception is going to plummet. A tip? People think billionaires arguing with millionaires are stupid. And the owners' cute little "We're going to take a hard line" thing isn't going to go over great, either. Will it affect their daily life? No. They can just stay inside the mansions while the rest of the world hates them a bit more every day. But it does get tiresome having people contantly ask you when you're going to end the lockout. Public perception is clearly not something the owners care about, as you can tell from their actions. But it gets tiresome being the bad guys, and they're going to be so for a while.
There are financial ramifications here. Once you start losing out on the season, the owners aren't just losing ticket sales. It's sponsorships, and community events, and merchandise, and everything else. That's actual lost revenue, just potential revenue. For men who have built their lives around growing the black ink, the red marks are going to be distressing.
This concludes how this lockout will damage the owners. Don't cry for them, Argentina.
Players: They'll deal with the scrutiny a lot more. Yes, educated fans will understand that the owners have been ridiculous in their negotiation approach and that the players didn't strike. Sadly, far too many people will simply question why they're not playing. And the result is a hit to something that does count, their public image. Getting product and event endorsements, invitations to elite functions, media opportunities to highlight their public profiles, all of that depends on the public image. And in a lockout, that will be harmed not just from negative reaction to the fact they're not playing, but from the fact they won't be seen.
The biggest stars will maintain. But the effect will be there. How about the actual money? Most NBA players haven't divested their income. They don't have multiple outlets of revenue. Many of them have probably saved very little. So when November rolls around and the checks don't come, that lifestyle adjustment will be real. The minimum players will obviously feel it first and most. But even some mid-level veterans live their lives according to their means. Think of it as if you made middle-class money in this country, and then all of a sudden you were put on indefinite furlough. Could you live on less if you'd planned well? Sure. But you've still built your life around the level of income you're making now. That adjustment can be difficult. Well, maybe not difficult, but inconvenient.
Charities: There will still be charity events. But the players don't have the disposable income to splurge as they usually do. The owners are in "baton the hatches" mode. Which means that a ton of money and resources that normally go to charity will likely be impacted. Even if the wealthiest players still devote their funds, things will be scaled back a bit. Media attention on these events will be less, knowing that the players won't be able to talk about the lockout as both sides duck the issue in the press. And there will be cut backs. Teams will be tightening their belts to save their owners money, not to save jobs in most instances, but to save the owners dough that they're losing in a lockout they created. Non-profits have already taken serious hits throughout the recession, and now those that have benefited so much from team and player involvement will have cuts.
Employees: Some teams have been wise enough to set aside funds to continue to pay their staff, at least for the most part, throughout the summer and into however how much of the season is impacted by the lockout. Others, not so fortunate. Multiple team employees have told me that their management groups are using this as an opportunity to cut the chaff from their organizations, laying off people that they feel they can do without. While some trimming may be necessary, that's still job loss. These are people who do not make hundreds of thousands of dollars, who just happen to be employed by an NBA team.
You have the impact when games are missed. Concession workers, arena staffs, security crews, etc. Most of these are part-time positions, so primary sources of income won't be affected, but who can afford to lose a gig like that if you're working multiple jobs? What about the extra crewmen hired by television production, both locally and nationally? What about writers, bloggers, editors, developers in the media? Okay, no one cares about those, but still.
Again, some teams have planned for this. Maybe the damage will be minimal. But there will be damage, and the longer this goes, the worse it's going to get.
The reality is, we won't know the damage this lockout will cause until it's over.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 2:13 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Our eve of destruction is upon us. Now is the summer of our discontent. Other cliches and references. The owners are about to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of "letting the players run out of money because most of them are not used to having to manage their time, let alone their finances in any rational fashion." The lockout is a coming. So we thought we'd give you the opportunity to enjoy these last few precious hours with a nice countdown to keep you company. We'll be providing updates from the fruitless labor session throughout the day and more analysis. In the meantime, check out the Berger Plan for what should, but won't, happen.
Hold us, we're afraid.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 1:56 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
You have to lead by example. That's always been pretty clear. You can't expect people to follow what you say unless you walk the walk. So now that the NBA has entered into the deep dark lockout landscape, things are about to get real. No more t-shirts, no more slogans, no more parading. This is the real thing, and the money will stop... well, in November, since that's when most of the players contracts under the last CBA run through. But still! The money chokehold is about to get serious, and some players have some questions for their leadership.
Yahoo! Sports reports that after Kevin Garnett did his usual over-dramatic rabble-rousing last week, Shane Battier asked a question of the union president, Billy Hunter. Would he take a paycut, just as NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith did? Hunter sidestepped the question, then the rest of the executive board came to his defense, according to the report. But Hunter's evasiveness of the issue calls into question his commitment to the cause, and exactly how much he's "in the trenches" with the rest of the players for what Hunter has set up to be a very long lockout. Yahoo! also reports Hunter was granted over $1 million last year for unpaid vacation. Which is categorically insane independently, considering his job structure and responsibilities, but whatever.
Perhaps most concerning from the players' perspective is this quote from Yahoo!, from a player regarding how Hunter conducts himself in response to union representatives voicing questions or concerns:
“Billy isn’t afraid to embarrass you in front of other players, if he doesn’t like your line of questioning,” an Eastern Conference player said. “He’s done a good job keeping us informed and fighting [NBA commissioner David] Stern, but I don’t need to be lectured by the guy. I’m allowed to ask a question.”via Hunter sidesteps question on pay - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.
That's bad leadership right there. As is declining a pay cut. Even if you structure it differently to ensure you get the same money eventually, you need to in order to be side-by-side with the players who pay you to represent them. Otherwise, you have a system wherein someone who isn't taking responsibility allows months and months to go by without negotiations, waiting until the last minute to enter into serious conversations and only then taking a stand against progressively stronger tactics from the owners.
Oh, right, that's exactly what happened.
The players' side has been considerably more willing to compromise during this entire process, and up until the last few weeks have conducted themselves in a much more professional manner. But the fact remains that Hunter has been out-flanked badly in this process, and now he's stepping into snares from his own players, even as the trap-setters say "Don't step there!"
Whether the center can hold will determine if the players can avoid getting routed in this process over the coming months.
Final note: Is there anything more perfectly exemplary of the discrepancy among the players? Kevin Garnett brings t-shirts with "STAND" on them and does his dramatic yelling trick, and Shane Battier asks a relevant, important question. One is celebrated, the other shut down. Does not inspire confidence for the players' side in this.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:35 am
Posted by Matt Moore
It's just about over now. The respiration machines are slowing, the room has gone still, and everyone's trying to make peace with it. NBA momentum is almost dead. And the players and ownership are still haggling with one another over its possessions.
It's grotesque how everything has happened that has led to this point. From the owners' scorched earth policy to avoiding any move toward real compromise or negotiation, their refusal to offer counterproposals over a period that lasted longer than six months, the players' desperate moves to maintain their footing, and most of all to the fact that both sides only really started negotiating within the last month. They knew this was coming. They knew what was at stake. And their pride kept them out of the board room. This is not how business should be conducted, not how men should decide the fate of the league at its most important time.
There should have been dialogue the whole way through. It should have started last year and continued as often as possible. Both sides should have offered alternatives outside the box (the players have provided some ideas, but they were mostly regarding tertiary issues and didn't address the primary concerns). Both sides should have recognized that total victory is not obtained through negotiation. But maybe the owners knew that. Perhaps they understood the only way they were going to get their way was to force a siege and then choke off the supply lines. Maybe this was the plan from the start. If so, they're even dumber than the contracts they gave that put themselves into this position would show. But either way, there should have been efforts made to avoid this at all costs. This should have been the absolute last option, not the starting point to try and avoid. That would have been reasonable, that would have been intelligent, that would have been good business.
Instead, we've got this, the height of success for the league since Michael Jordan left being set aflame because of principled stances and juvenile dramatic positioning.
We've got a lockout.
The NBA and ownership meets Thursday for the final time at noon eastern (high noon, as the drama continues) to try and resolve this. Or at least to look as if they're trying to resolve this. If you have a key negotiation that's being done to avoid shutting down your business entirely, do you wait until the absolute last minute? Is that how things are done? Absolutely not, but that's what's going on here. Instead we have one more chance for each side to try and position themselves as the compromisers, as the ones trying to get a deal, to try and create a crack in the other side. It won't work, of course. What would work is a group of smart people in a room trying to find solutions to the problems both sides face. Instead, we get two sides providing lip service by showing up for a meeting neither of them expect to actually do anything.
If ownership is largely responsible for the injuries sustained to NBA momentum with its refusal to offer counterproposals, ridiculously hard line, constant scare tactics, and unrealistic expectations to completely revolutionize the sport in one renegotiation versus aiming to make changes over several, the players pulled the plug by refusing to offer a counterproposal to the owners' last effort. Was the owners' last design a series of false admissions of compromise wrapped in a deceptively hard stance? Absolutely. But there was no reason to cut off the talks, to stop the process of offering alternatives. That's negotiation. Instead, as the players elected for at All-Star Weekend in 2010, they pulled off dramatics that seem more like the work of dress-code-protesting teenagers than an organized collection of professionals. T-shirts that read "STAND," the brainchild of the ultimate NBA drama queen, Kevin Garnett along with Paul Pierce (you thought I was going to say LeBron, didn't you?). Walkouts of practice at All-Star Weekend. The players are one-step shy of stomping and screaming "It's not fair!"
Meanwhile, the owners are harboring delusions of grandeur of their own, wanting to "win" a negotiation outright. The CBA is an agreement. It takes two sides to tango. And while their money is what creates the backbone of the league, and it is their teams that form its foundation, they cannot exist without the players, without these players, without the best players. Yet the owners think it better to create nuclear winter and then wait for their opponent to buckle.
You know why neither the United States nor the Soviet Union elected to use nuclear weaponry in the cold war? Because killing all of the citizens you're fighting for in an effort to protect them doesn't make any sense. Putting the league into a lockout, killing all the momentum and shutting off revenue streams in order to make more money isn't just cutting your nose to spite your face, it's drowning yourself to make sure you don't run out of air. It's madness.
The league is at its best point since Jordan left. Ratings are up, league interest is sky-high. The internet has allowed fans to follow their teams in a way they have never been able to. All the games are broadcast on League Pass. Trades provide constant speculation and fans huddled around screens waiting to see what happens next (and will become remarkably difficult in a hard cap, hope the owners are remembering). The draft got crazy ratings, for crying out loud, and it was a horribly weak draft! China is a still-emerging market, the game has never been more globally recognized, revenues have come back up, and yet here we are. Wasting all this is borderline criminal. Depriving the fans, who, if we're being totally honest, are the ones who actually drive revenue, of this sport wastes everything that has been built over the past five years. We're talking about incredible amounts of money, in the billions. The money is there. We're just going to shut everything down over how we're going to split it up? Really? This is the big strategic design?
Getting hurt by your long-term contracts to wasteful players? Don't offer them. Don't think you should lose money in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression? Grow up, everyone's tightening his belts, even the owners. Want to guarantee profitability? Open up conversations about revenue sharing and we'll believe you. Want to protect future players' earning potential? Give them a league to play in.
There are alternatives being looked at. Ken Berger's got a plan. Other smart people have a plan. The players and owners? They've just got the body of NBA momentum, dying in front of them while they fight over the silverware.
The NBA lockout is upon us. And every inch of it should be something both sides should recognize is wholly and entirely stupid.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 6:04 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
The owners made what they felt was a concilliatory, compromising offer last week in the NBA labor negotiations. That offer was met with derision from the players' union that felt it was essentially offering to them what they already own while still asking for far too much in the way of compromises. So now we have one more shot before the lockout we all knew was coming anyway starts Friday.
But a report from the San Antonio Express News makes the lockout sound even more frightening, because it alleges that if there is a lockout, and there will be (no way this gets done in a day), the owners will take all the small consolations and compromises they've offered off the table, and will opt instead for the NBA negotiating equivalent of a nuclear winter.
From the Express News:
According to NBA executives familiar with the league’s strategies, once the lockout is in place, the owners will push for a hard salary cap of $45 million, the elimination of guaranteed contracts and ask that the players swallow a 33 percent salary cut. The concessions made in recent weeks, including the “flex cap” of $62 million and a guarantee of $2 billion in annual player payroll, will be off the table.via Spurs Nation » Mike Monroe: It only gets harder for owners, players.
A move back to the hard line for the owners would force the players into a fight-or-flight response. They'd have no option to digging a trench for the long haul other than complete surrender. And given that they feel this fight is not just about themselves and their money, but about the future earning potential of professional basketball players (it's a brotherhood, if you haven't heard), they would get the shovels and sink in. We could lose the entirety of next season, if this report is accurate.
For everyone's sake, the fans, the owners, the players, the league personnel, and the business owners who profit in the communities, let's hope the owners recognize that there's a reason the Cold War remained cold. No one wins in the other scenario, except rival sports.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by EOB Staff.
The situation, as Ken Berger put it so eloquently, is thus: "In other words, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, the excrement has hit the air conditioning."
The owners and players met Friday in an effort to make progress off of the owners' seemingly concilliatory last offer. The natural step in a negotiation is for the players to respond with another counter-proposal as the two move closer together. But after everyone thought the owners' proposal was a great step forward, the union went ballistic over it.
The result? Beger reports that Jared Dudley told media Friday after the meeting that the players elected to not offer a counter-proposal, saying the two sides were "too far apart." With a Board of Governor's meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Berger reports that he players expect the owners to vote for the lockout at that meeting.
It's been a long time coming, and we have a week to go with NBA players and owners agreeing to a "smaller bargaining session" on next Wednesday or Thursday, but the reality is here.
We're headed for an NBA lockout, without question.
If you're looking for subtext here, imagine that the goal is to get a plank balanced on a post. Both sides want as much weight added to their side of the plank while keeping it balanced up in the air. They add things the players want (and have) like guaranteed contracts and things the owners want (like restrictions) to try and get things balanced. After the owners' very Cold-War approach to negotiations for the last, really two years, their last proposal seemed like a move towards progress. But the players feel that the owners have simply moved the post far enough and counter-weighted their side to make it look like it's balanced. In reality, the players feel they's simply moved the post and gotten more of what they want, by managing the story.
The players' abrasive and ultimately toxic approach Friday represents the line in the sand. They're not going any further, and they're not going to let the ownership dictate terms any more. The players have been concilliatory about BRI, exceptions, revenue sharing, the works throughout this process. Now that the owners have tossed them what they feel are bread crumbs and called it progress, the players have elected to throw the bread back in their face and walk out the door.
Berger reports Stern characterized his reaction to the decision as "disappointed." I characterize his chracterization as "the work of Captain Obvious."
Perhaps you're wondering why it's taken until a week before the end date of the current CBA to reach this point, why they couldn't have negotiated seriously earlier, to reach this point and then push through it instead of running up against the cliff.
Welcome to the club.
There's almost no escaping it now. Barring a miracle or a significant coup among the owners by the voices of reason, it's game over.
Professional basketball stops on a dime at midnight Thursday night.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:21 pm
David Stern comments to a Miami radio show on a number of issues.
Posted by Matt Moore
David Stern joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to talk about, well, quite a bit, actually. Sports Radio Interviews caught it and shares with us. So we're going to break down the finer points of what Stern decided to touch on.
If he believes this year’s NBA regular season was one of the best ever:I think you have to make the argument this was the best for a much simpler reason. Access. Not only do you have star-studded teams in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, but you have so much more access to them now than you did back in the league's hayday. League Pass, League Pass Mobile, local television deals, national broadcasts split across two network families, great blogs (like, oh, this one), new stats, replays on NBATV, there's about a million ways to experience the NBA. Compare that with the "catch the occasional game on tape delay, go to it live, or else you're just reading box scores in the paper" of the 1980's, and the league has been able not only to capitalize on the biggest stars, but to make those big moments even bigger. Chris Paul plays in New Orleans, Dwight Howard in Orlando, Blake Griffin for the lowly Clippers, and still those are household names. It makes you wonder why so many players think you need to go to a big city to get attention. Speaking of desperate needs for attention...
Did he secretly pump his first in delight that LeBron, Wade and Bosh were uniting as he thought about the kind of ‘jolt’ the trio would bring to the league:Well that's partially true, anyway. But considering the hands-off approach he took to discussion of collusion, and the fact that small markets continue to struggle to remain competitive (don't let Hornets-Lakers fool you), not like the priorities are equal. The Commish took a much bigger interest in New York being off the map rather than Cleveland's plummet into disaster. On the flip side, Stern has repeatedly and consistently spoke of the need for an improved revenue sharing plan in the future, without undermining the ownership group's efforts to keep that to a separate discussion. Stern's not oblivious or hard-hearted to the plight of smaller markets. But you can still bet the revenues the Heat brought into the gate brought a grin.
After being asked about fining Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for his actions after LeBron left Cleveland, Stern was asked about not fining Clippers owner Donald Sterling for heckling his own players:
“Oh, he’s just a fan at that point, and he promised he wouldn’t do it again.”
But there was a conversation with Sterling about it, right?
“Yes, there’s always a conversation with everybody. You know, the best way to describe it is to say that how you deal with something that has passed you, is that you say ‘I assume you didn’t do it, if you did it it was an accident, that you didn’t mean to do it, and if you did do it, you’re not going to do it again. Right?’ Right, okay. Let’s move on.”
Stern has to have had that conversation with Sterling so many times he's actually just running a digital recording of the questions at this point. Maybe it's an automated 1-800 number they set up just for Sterling. "If you made another racially insensitve comment, press '1' now. If you failed to make your team competitive for the fifth season in a row despite every advantage in terms of market and profit-margin, press '2' now."
What’s the most radical change the league is considering:Big stuff here, including a discussion of the "in the cylinder" rule that narrowly avoided costing the Nuggets a game early in their series with OKC. The D-League has already adopted this league as an exploratory measure, but it's having some issues with it as well. The last point, though, about making that last quarter faster? Everyone, players, fans, media, everyone will probably be on board with that one.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 2:01 pm
NBA cancels Summer League, summer internships, and planning for European preseason games in advance of expected lockout. Yikes.
Posted by Matt Moore
Update 1:26 p.m.: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
While it's obvious that there would be no summer league involving NBA players or drafted rookies in the event of a lockout, two people with knowledge of the situation said the event has not yet been canceled. There have been informal discussions for months between summer league organizers and league officials about what to do with the scouting event if there is a work stoppage, and the ideas have included bringing international teams to the event, one of the people said. In addition, the D-League -- which will continue to operate during an NBA work stoppage because its players are not NBPA members -- is exploring the possibility of holding a Las Vegas event that would replace summer league. D-League officials, sources said, are exploring this hypothetical event without the assistance of Vegas summer league organizers.
But as of now, summer league is scheduled to begin July 8. Given the current labor climate, that would seem to be wishful thinking.
Original Report: Up until now, the NBA has kept its heart and mind publicly open to the idea that the labor dispute would be settled before June 30th when the current CBA expires, or soon afterwards, to avoid any disruption of NBA plans. A report from the New York Daily News suggests the league is moving forward with facing reality. They are cancelling NBA Summer League for 2011, their summer internship plans, and are not planning for any European preseason games. Gulp.
Summer League is an NBA tradition, used as an early showcase for draft picks, young players developing, and D-Leaguers and fringe players looking to break in. It was thought that Summer League would go on as planned, even in the event of a lockout, just without the draft picks or any player who is a member of the NBPA. It's not known at this point if the event was cancelled due to a perceived lack of interest that would make the event too costly, or whether this is belt-tightening by the league in advance of lost revenue. There will be jokes aplenty about how this doesn't really matter, but consider three things.
One, if you don't think any talent comes out of this event, take a look at Gary Neal who made a strong case for a few Rookie of the Year votes in any year where Blake Griffin did not exist murdering unicorns. That's a heavy rotation player who the Spurs invited to Summer League from Europe, watched him excel, signed him and then made him a consistent player who became a favorite of Gregg Popovich. And without Summer League, the Knicks may not have seen the promise of Landry Fields and what he brings to the floor. Want another one? How about starting two-guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, Wesley Matthews (via Twitter ). Summer League has a lot of washout talent, but the diamonds in the rough are found by some of the best GMs and coaches in the league.
Two, this is the first real breeding ground post-free-agency for trades. The vast majority of general managers and executives make it out to Vegas for a few days of sun and bad basketball, and that's where conversations start that lead to trades. Without it, all of that is set back. The lockout's got to end sometime, this just sets everything back a few months more.
Three, there's been discussion of replacement players, conceivably using players from the D-League, and the D-League season is slated to go on regardless of the lockout next season. This was a showcase for teams to see those players. Without it, we'll be seeing more of the Collins-brothers-type signings in the future.
Outside the box of the event itself, however, the cancelation of Summer League, the internships, and the preseason games in Europe makes for a pretty bleak future. We're not talking just July here. The NBA is makig contingency plans for October, here. This is one-step shy of going ahead and planning for games not to be played. There's no surprise, but it does provide a sobering reality of just how long and painful this lockout will be. As the NBA heads into what many feel will be one of the best NBA postseasons ever, the dark clouds of the impending lockout continue to rain on our parade.