Tag:David Stern
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:55 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:03 am

Billy Hunter: Labor deal could get done in hours?

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter

On Thursday, NBA commissioner David Stern declared that a labor deal with the National Basketball Players Association must be reached by next Tuesday, when the two sides will convene with a federal mediator, or a significant portion of the NBA season, including the league's Christmas Day games, would be put at risk. For those of us who have watched the league's labor negotiations plod along with little progress in the formal offers from the two sides, a drop-dead date of Tuesday with no meetings scheduled prior to that date sounds like a very, very bad thing.

Responding to Stern's comments, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter told Yahoo Sports that a lack of time really isn't the key issue. In fact, Hunter said that the framework of a new agreement could be arranged lickety-split, assuming the two sides could actually agree on the major issues that separate their proposals.
“It’s not an issue of time. It’s an issue of will. If you are in a room and you want to make a deal and there are three major issues that are holding you up, if you can come to a compromise on those three areas than you have a makings of a deal. It’s not a nature of time. We can go in and do a deal if they want to go in and do a deal. We can do a deal in an hour, two hours if we can agree to the major terms. And after that you got to work on everything else. Everything else will fall in place.”
That sounds awful promising, at least until Hunter goes on to describe his belief that the owners are taking an "extreme position" and accuses them of failing to negotiate in good faith.

 “David Stern told me three years ago – and I keep reiterating that because people keep pulling up their cup on it – that they were going to lock out [the players] in order to get what it was they wanted. And what he’s done is done that. [Stern] said he was going to lock out [the players] and his owners were prepared to lock out to get what they wanted. It’s driven pretty much by the small-market teams... He’s stated an extreme position from the get go and he’s negotiated that way. So here we are.

“We’ve been negotiating for almost three years, and here we are at the 12th hour when all of the sudden they make a slight move. But then on top of that, they then decide that they want a hard cap. So then when you get close to the economics of the number, then they get close to the system. And they know that the system is very important. If we give on the economics, we are not going to give on the system. And so all of the sudden you reach a possible agreement on the economics and now the system becomes a problem. So it’s like a moving target."

Whether Hunter meant to or not, he presents the current state of negotiations as the exact scenario where a mediator would be most helpful. Hunter's account clearly states that the two sides know where each other stand. His account clearly states that his side is willing to give but not totally concede. His account acknowledges some movement by the opposing party and the need for more. And, more than anything, it confirms that recent talks haven't been particularly fruitful because of miscommunication, intentional or otherwise.

A neutral third-party could very well help organize the conversation, clarify the agenda items, and cut through the unnecessary, emotional, personal or petty arguments that might arise during a negotiation that involves billions of dollars, massive egos and competing agendas. If what Hunter says is true, that the 2011-2012 NBA season could be saved in a mere matter of hours if things break right, then Tuesday's mediation session truly is a promising step. If the problem here is the quality of the conversation rather than the quantity of the conversation, it would be a fool's errand to repeat this negotiation's past mistakes without trying to shake up the process.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 12:49 pm

NBA lockout gets Taiwanese animation'd

Posted by Royce Young

I don't know if the people behind the Taiwanese animation are geniuses or just crazy, but their representation of the NBA lockout is something else. First, you have David Stern wielding a chainsaw everywhere he goes. Then he guards Derek Fisher. Then he kisses an owner in a wedding gown. Then there are players in an operating room, bleeding, I think.

There's a big pie and they don't know how to split it before Stern just cuts the thing in half with his huge chainsaw. Then to wrap it all up, LeBron has his crown removed for a "hard salary CAP". Get it? It's an actualy cap.

The funny thing is, as ridiculous as this animation thing is, it's a pretty accurate portrayal of the lockout. Something for the kids, you know?

Category: NBA
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:51 am

Stoudemire chimes in on an independent league

By Matt Moore

The players truly believe that they are the league. Not the franchises, logos, stadiums, coaches, management, or the game itself. And no, not the fans, though they do believe the fans are vital, obviously. No, they think the National Basketball Association is made up of players and it is the players who are the product. That's where the belief that they are entitled to more than 50 percent of the BRI comes from. And it's not bad logic, truth be told. It's debatable, but a sound starting place.

To that end, there have been discussions that, basically, if the owners are going to take away their league, the players will just start another. And lookee here, Amar'e Stoudemire's right on time promoting his new shoe (and throwing teammates under the deoderant bus, apparently) to chime in with where he sees things going if the lockout isn't resolved. From the New York Post: 
Amar'e Stoudemire said last night if the NBA lockout wipes out the season, he believes the players will form their own league instead of trying to catch on in Europe.

"If we dont go to Europe, we're going to start our own league, thats how I see it," the Knicks forward said. "It's very serious. It's a matter of us strategically coming up with a plan, a blueprint and putting it together. So we'll see how this lockout goes. If it goes one or two years, we've got to start our own league."
via Knicks Stoudemire says players will start own league - NYPOST.com.

 Setting aside the outright horror of that phrase "one or two years," it's not surprising that Stoudemire would go this route. He's an idealist, a dreamer (but he's not the only one). The players harnessing their own value and starting their own league sounds like a great idea. And it would be, if they had a consultant group to handle the entire process and a two year window just to get things operational. 

The big X-factors in this discussion are two entities. Nike and ESPN. Both companies have enough invested in the NBA and its players to create a paradox for themselves. They could benefit tremendously from putting the players, particularly those in the Nike stable, on a massive stage they themselves create, and have the industry connections to create a functioning league. They simply have the resources. At the same time, both enjoy a relationship with the NBA, one that they'll have to maintain after the lockout ends. They can't help the players here because they need the league and they can't help the league because they need the players.

Stoudemire did go on to say that he believes the lockout will end after the two weeks are lost, which is a nice thought. But after the events of the last week, it's hard to see either of Amar'e's dreams becoming a reality.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:18 am

The lockout damage is wider than most think

By Matt Moore

There's a growing movement that things aren't really that bad in this lockout. "The stadium workers are part-time," is part of the argument, without realizing the situation of so many of the actual jobs involved or how much of a percentage of income those jobs are. "The arenas will still be open for concerts" is another fun one, not factoring the 41 events a year that are now in jeopardy. But the real problem is all of the ways it filters down. Take television revenues, for instance. 

Each NBA team has a contract with a local TV provider for the games that usually includes pre- and post-game coverage. It's true the networks won't have to pay the teams for the games missed. But it also means those networks are having to replace the games with lesser content that won't sell high quality ad content. From the Los Angeles Times:  
While much of the attention on the lockouts impact on the media has focused on ESPN and TNT, much-harder hit will be local sports channels such as News Corp.s Fox Sports West, which carries the Los Angeles Lakers. Fox Sports and cable giant Comcast Corp. are two of the biggest operators of so-called regional sports networks.

"There is probably a lot more at stake at the regional sports network level than the national level," said Chris Bevilacqua, who heads Bevilacqua Media, a sports and media consulting firm.

While the networks are protected against a lengthy disruption of games, their ratings and ad revenue will be adversely affected and there will be a scramble to find programming to fill holes left by the loss of the NBA.

"We will air a mix of college sports, hockey, original programming and selective classic NBA games in the meantime," said a spokesman for Comcast, which has the local cable rights to seven NBA franchises, including the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
via NBA labor strife bad for ESPN, TNT and regional sports networks - latimes.com.

Some of the camera and production crews are likely on salary and will probably be kept by the local affiliates. But there are also countless part-time and contract workers that help in the production of a live sports broadcast. Those jobs? In danger. The impact will be felt throughout the community. Everything trickles down. The networks lose sponsor money. Sponsors lose a viable advertising source which impacts business even if they save the cost of advertising.

And there are other impacts, like bars and restaurants. From the AP:  
"I'm worried that my money situation is going to change — a lot," said waitress Zuly Molina, who works at a Hooters at the Bayside complex next to the Miami Heat's home arena. "It was a lot better last year. We had business before every game, during every game with people who couldn't get tickets watching in here, then after every game. Now it's gone, except for when they have a concert or something like that."
via Lockout's real pain felt beyond owners and players - Houston Chronicle.

You don't have to be a fan of Hooters to get where she's coming from. Waiters, waitresses, hosts, hostesses, bartenders, chefs, independent ticket vendors, independent merchandise retailers, the list goes on and on. The gap the two sides in the lockout are apart doesn't begin to hurt the parties involved on the level it impacts the people in the economies dependent on these games. They want to talk about how it's a business. Part of your responsibility in being a business that is publicly supported and in part funded through arenas is to be a responsible member of the local economy.

Truth is, we dont' know what the damage is going to be yet. We're just getting a taste. But hey, at least Micky Arison is eating well.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:44 pm

Decertification may be unavoidable at this point

By Matt Moore

Now the wolves come a-hunting. 

For nearly a year, one of the goals of both sides in the labor dispute has been to avoid sending it to the courts. The NBA saw the mess that became of the NFL lockout once decertification came through, the amount spent on lawyer's fees and research, the ugly impact on PR. And probably somewhere in there, he also saw that there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that the league could lose. After the NFL lost the first decision, there must have been a shiver down David Stern's spine, even if he was aware and confident that it would be overturned and then upheld in appeal. If the NBA owners haven't failed to bargain in good faith, they've certaintly took bad faith out for a spin in Daddy's car and held its hand for a while. 

Similarly, Billy Hunter knew that decertification could cost his side everything. Yes, personally, he could lose his job and that's a pretty strong motivating factor for anyone, should he not return as head under the new union.  But it could also mean essentially getting the courts to affirm the league's power and advantage. The players would also have to afford court fees and the public scrutiny that would come with such a move, not to mention the fact that the players would look like "Lord of the Flies," lopping off their own head to dance around in anger around an owner effigy pyre. Hunter knew that the threat of decertification was more powerful than actually moving the debate into the court.

But now, after having the first twenty games cancelled, with paychecks that would be coming now not in a few weeks, with the league's image tarnished by greed, both sides are aware.

The wolves will be back, now. And this time the gates may not hold them out.

If ever there was a time for the agents who had been pushing for decertification and undermining the efforts of the union to say "They had their chance, now it's ours," that time is now. And Hunter may be at the point where it's better to join the barbarians at the gate than keep rallying the Roman Senators while they're stealing from each other's pocketbooks.  Hunter washing his hands of negotiation and aiming to take the owners down to the players' level might be the only way to truly put the fear of God back into Stern and his constituents in order to get movement towards compromise. There may be no other option. The players's side has been adamant that losing games doesn't scare them. You know who says things like that loudly? People who are scared of losing games.  The players know the score even if they won't admit it. They have little leverage, and the more paychecks that are missed, the worse it will get. The escrow money, sponsorship money, the overseas money won't last forever, won't cover the missing income forever, and at that point, things turn.

Not everyone thinks that this thing will rocket towards legal briefs, however. From Sports Illustrated:  
Lastly, you’ll hear lots of talk now about the union decertifying and filing an antitrust suit against the league. Some hard-line agents have pushed for this, and there is the perception that the NFL union’s move to decertify created a bit of temporary leverage, since any successful antitrust suit could wring billions in damages from the owners.

Unfortunately, the process would take at least a year to play out in full, and possibly longer. Court decisions, including those in the NFL’s case, leaned more toward the ownership/league side, and the timing of the NFL union’s decertification was much different than would be the case here. The NFL players union decertified much earlier, before their CBA had even expired, and they did so precisely because that soon-to-expire CBA included a deadline by which the union had to decertify.

The NBA union is already much later in the game. Its CBA expired more than 100 days ago, on July 1, and the players stand to lose so much salary over via a canceled season as to make it borderline worthless to pursue a strategy that basically guarantees that cancellation. It could still happen as a means of gaining some temporary “Holy crap!” leverage, but it would be a surprising move, even now.
via The Point Forward » Posts Key points as full season falls by the wayside «.

Unfortunately, that assumes that both sides are thinking strategicall, rationally, logically. Consider the following from long-time basketball scribe Jan Hubbard:  
As the percentages each side said were required for a deal haven gotten closer and closer, writers covering negotiations have been more and more dumbfounded that a middle point could not be found. By not playing basketball games in the preseason and now cancelling the first two weeks of the regular season, each side has sacrificed more than it would lose with the other side’s deal. So why not compromise?

And therein lies the problem – the assumption that logic applies; the belief that it is common sense to believe both sides to have common sense.

That has been incorrect, which leads to an obvious conclusion. This financial contest is not about dividing revenues fairly.

It’s about winning.
via Players Beware: It’s a Coldblooded Financial World | Sports Righting.
And that just about does it. It's true that both sides are so close to a deal, or at least close enough that it's closer than what a court decision would bring in terms of time. But that assumes that either side is interested in compromise. The players feel they've compromised enough, because they believe that the previous deal is a precedent that should be in play, despite this being a new agreement and not an extension or renegotiation. The owners believe they've compromised enough, because they took their demands from "Oh My God, are you out of your mind?!" to "You can't be serious... wait, you're serious?!" territory.

Neither side wants compromise. They want to win. 

And decertification and subsequent court battles may be the only way they can see to win outright. Who would want to compromise when you can win?

Oh, that's right. The fans. But they don't get a say.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 2:03 am

David Stern cancels first two weeks of NBA season

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association concluded more than seven hours of meetings on Monday in New York City without reaching an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement. As such, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that NBA commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season, spanning from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14.

Berger reports that Stern said that a "gulf" still separates the owners and players in their negotiations and that the two sides are "very, very far apart on virtually all issues."

Stern also confirmed that the cancellation of the first two weeks will prevent an 82-game regular season. In other words, there isn't sufficient time available later in the calendar to make up the cancelled games.

There are currently no further talks scheduled, Stern said, but the sides will continue to communicate.

Stern was joined in Monday's negotiations by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and a number of owners and legal advisers. The NBPA was represented by president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, among others.

Berger reported that league officials saw a number of sticking points, including: "contract length, length of CBA, use of exceptions by [luxury] tax-paying teams and [the luxury] tax levels and the frequency of the [luxury] tax." Those are all significant issues that will require extended negotiation to resolve.

Fisher mostly stuck to what has become his mantra in recent weeks. "I continue to believe that we've been more than fair and reasonable in our approach," he said. "This is what we anticipated would happen, and here we are."

He also admitted the pain of lost salary will be felt by his constituency. "Obviously not a good feeling for anyone, " Fisher said."This is not just about dollars and cents for players. It's about a system for our guys to operate under."

Hunter maintained that the lost income will not shake the players' solidarity. "Unfortunately, maybe we need to miss a few games for them to know there's resolve among the players," he said, according to Berger.
The NBA issued the following press release on Monday evening to formally announce the cancellation.

The NBA announced today that it has canceled the first two weeks of the 2011-12 regular season because a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached with the National Basketball Players Association. This cancellation includes all games originally scheduled to be played through November 14.

"Despite extensive efforts, we have not been able to reach a new agreement with the players’ union that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship while fairly compensating our players," NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Refunds plus interest are available for all NBA season-ticket holders for all preseason and regular-season games that are canceled.

Earlier Monday, the NBPA launched a Twitter campaign called "Let us play," hoping to curry public favor and maintain solidarity amongst its ranks.

Monday's meeting was an extension of last-ditch talks that began Sunday afternoon. Stern set Monday as the deadline for cancelling the first two weeks of the season when talks broke down on Tuesday of last week.

This post will update with the latest on the NBA lockout.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:18 am

The Lockout List for Monday's talks

By Matt Moore

The league and players met for five hours Sunday and nada, zip, zero, zilch. Not a deal, not a framework, not a conceptual agreement, not a tentative agreement, not even "progress." We're just guessing here, but we have this image of them each sitting there like it's study hall, passing notes to their friends and not really talking about anything of substance. Apparently BRI never even came up

That's right. The biggest issue remaining on the table, and they didn't even touch it.

So what has to happen for a dea on a new CBA to happen today and to avoid the loss of regular season games as David Stern promised there would be without a deal Monday? Here's what it looks like.

  1. Resolve revenue sharing. SI reports that revenue sharing remains the biggest systemic, non-BRI issue on the table. This is tricky territory, as it's not something the NBA even wants to be talking about. They don't even want it on the table. But apparently they've let it on and both sides are squabbling over what it will look like. The biggest hangup is likely that the players' best friend in the BRI and cap issues, the large market owners, are the ones that will pump the brakes on revenue sharing. The players want an extensive system, because the more money is redistributed on the owners' side, the less money they'll have to contribute to recovering losses, hypothetically. 
  2. The 12-foot, sabretoothed, hulking monster in the room that is BRI. The owners aren't budging on 50/50. The players won't move off 53 percent. Either one side's going to have to bend, or they'll have to find some sort of compromise in-between. Maybe it's the owners taking 52 to get the player down a percent. Maybe they split the difference. But neither side is even open to that possibility. If talks turn to this issue on Monday afternoon and neither side is willing to move at all on their number, it's going to be a real short meeting. 
  3. Get a framework, then get the votes. Even if the smaller parties can get a conceptual framework in place, complete with BRI and everything else, they still have to get approval from their constituents for a vote. Say the owners talk the players down to 51 percent. All it takes is one leaked quote from an owner about how they knew the players would cave, and then Kevin Garnett turns that into a rallying cry, and then the agents hit the roof and start calling for decertification again and the whole thing blows up. Say the players get the owner sup to 53 percent through concessions, but one of them turns out to be a sticking point for one of the owners and the rest of the league sticks with their guy who says he can't do it. There are a million ways this blows up once the reasaonable grown-ups negotiating the deal now get done. 
  4. Get a vote, get a timeline, get the paperwork done, start the offseason. 
All of this within the next 21 days. 

So as you can see, we're kind of up against it here.  
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:54 pm

NBA: We would have negotiated system issues

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Earlier Friday, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association could not agree to meet prior to Monday, the deadline commissioner David Stern has set for cancelling the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season. 

Berger reported that an NBPA source said that the NBA would only agree to meet if the union agreed to accept a 50-50 split of Basketball-Related Income. The NBPA felt it could not go through with a meeting given that major pre-condition.

The New York Times reports that NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the NBA was not willing to negotiate past the 50-50 BRI split but said the league was willing to discuss other subjects, such as system issues.  

Adam Silver, the N.B.A.’s deputy commissioner, confirmed that the owners are standing firm at 50-50, although he disagreed with the union’s portrayal of events.

“What we told the union was that we were not prepared to negotiate over the B.R.I. split beyond the 50-50 concept that had already been discussed,” Silver said, referring to the N.B.A.’s acronym for basketball-related income.

Silver added, however, that the league was “prepared to continue negotiating over the many other issues that remain open” — such as the salary-cap system, the luxury tax and the length of contracts.

An NBA spokesperson returned the finger-pointing in a statement to CBSSports.com and other media: "We told the union today that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday. We also advised them we were unwilling to move above the 50-50 split of revenues that was discussed between the parties on Tuesday but that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the many remaining open issues. The union declined."

The posturing on both sides here is clear.

For the players, agreeing to meet to discuss only portions of the deal would effectively allow the owners to take the lead on setting the agenda, and that's a big no-no, because it sends a message to the average player that the union's leadership is weak and not on equal footing. To agree to take a stand, the average player has to feel he's standing on firm ground, not a sand dune.  

For the league, the refusal to budge on the 50/50 split accomplishes two goals. First, it continues to perpetuate the idea that the talks are stalling because the players are refusing to accept a "fair" 50/50 split, catering to public opinion and applying pressure on the NBPA to re-think its refusal to budget on its formal desire for 53 percent of the BRI. Second, it sends a message to any rank-and-file player who might be eager to get back to work. That message is: "We'll give you 50/50 and if you're OK with that, great, just let your union leadership know."

This latest impasse wastes valuable time and will likely lead to both sides digging in deeper for the time being. Once the deadline to "save the full season" is passed, the two sides will need to regenerate an urgency factor, or we could all be waiting for awhile.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com