Tag:NBPA
Posted on: July 27, 2011 9:43 pm
 

Billy Hunter: NBA on track for lost season

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter

Earlier Wednesday, we noted that representatives of the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association are scheduled to meet next week to resume negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

This is welcome news for NBA fans and observers, who have been left to wonder why the two sides haven't talked for nearly a month since a lockout was imposed on July 1.

Talking is an important first step. But compromising, ultimately, is what will prevent an extended work stoppage from disrupting, or potentially cancelling, the 2011-2012 NBA season.

Grantland.com reports that Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBPA, thinks that the league is headed for a worst case scenario -- the complete elimination of the upcoming season -- unless the negotiations produce a change in course from developments that date back to 2007.
Four years ago, when Hunter and Gary Hall, working on behalf of the union, met with [NBA commissioner] Stern and Adam Silver, Stern suggested phasing in a new labor deal that would help all of the league's owners turn a profit on their investment. Hunter said he left with the impression that the league would lock the players out if the requests were not fully met.

After the 2007 meeting, Hunter said he started prepping players for the inevitability of a lockout. "[Stern has] pretty much followed [his original] road map," Hunter said, as he leaned back in his chair. On a whiteboard behind his head, figures and proposals from both sides had been written up in black marker. "I was convinced when he told me then that he would do it, so I started to prepare the players."

If each side maintains their current stance, Hunter said he believes the league's owners will lock out players for at least an entire season.

If there is a positive takeaway here, it's that Hunter and Stern apparently know each other well enough that they are able to tell when the other is bluffing. Mutual respect is important, so that's something. 

It's extremely ominous, though, to hear Hunter explain how long Stern's approach to the negotiations has been in the works. Formulating a strategy and approach to a negotiating session over multiple years, and showing the resolve to stick to it this long, doesn't bode well, especially because the pace of negotiations this summer has been so deliberate. 

As we look ahead to next week's negotiation, the critical question becomes: Will the NBA publicly budge on anything? Will we find out that the time away from the negotiating table and the dead month of news -- without a free agency period -- made the league come to its senses about the harm it is doing to its reputation and the future of the game? Or, will the league come back even more entrenched, feeling empowered because international clubs haven't exactly been lining up to cherry-pick NBA stars?

Hunter, and the players, seem ready for the give and take. The league, at this point, just seems happy to take. Let's hope that finally changes, after all these years.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Report: Owners, players to meet next week

By Matt Moore

There have been "staff meetings" between representatives of the NBPA and the NBA owners in the past two weeks. Naturally, no substantive progress has been met, but hey, it's something. Now comes word that next week may mark an actualy, honest to God meeting between relevant personnel. From Sports Illustrated:
On Tuesday, Tom Ziller of SB Nation reported the NBA players’ union and league officials were planning the first official post-lockout collective bargaining talks for some time in the first two weeks of August. That meeting will take place next week, barring some unforeseen scheduling issue, according to two sources familiar with the matter. It could take place as early as Monday, depending on how the schedules of a few key figures shake out, according to one of the sources.
via The Point Forward » Posts NBA owners, players likely to meet next week «

This isn't a significant move. This isn't going to usher in some sort of sudden agreement. No breakthrough will be made. But it's a start. It's getting both parties in the same room, at the table, talking. And that's the only way we're going to get any sort of momentum, is with constant conversations that lead to a concession which leads to the other side offering their own concession and back and forth until a breakthrough is made. That's the only way we're going to get a deal before the start of the season, before Christmas, before we lose the entire year. 

Expect to hear the same doom and gloom out of this meeting as all the rest. The owners aren't going to move off the hard cap, or drastic salary reductions, the players aren't going to suddenly concede everything they've drawn a line against. But the fact remains, this is the only way to a solution and to an end to the lockout, by getting both sides in a room with some coffee and having conversations about what and why and how. 

It's nothing big. But it's a start.  
Posted on: July 22, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 9:38 am
 

The players may have enough loopholes to survive

By Matt Moore

When this lockout started to be discussed in real terms, there were more than enough questions about whether the players could handle it. There continue to be those questions.

NBA players are known to live extravagantly. A large portion of the league fit the same profile: men who come from low-income situations suddenly thrust not only into a situation where they are paid millions of dollars (and a million is still quite a bit of money today), but operate in a luxury atmosphere. The stark plummet off that cliff could crush the union, as could players complaining about it and then getting bombarded by the media for sounding wholly disconnected from the general public (which they are).

How would the players react if those paychecks stopped?

That's the whole argument for why the owners will win. Eventually, the players will cave because they'll need the money. 

Except, what if they don't?

There have been enough reports now to indicate that the union is as well prepared for this thing to go the distance as it can be. You've no doubt tired of a new report each day on a different player discussing going abroad. If you haven't, let me clue you in. Here's the formula.

"(Player X) is 'very interested' in playing overseas and plans to pursue opportunities there, though nothing is formal yet. The player is widely reported to be looking at (insert team who likely literally cannot afford to pay him)."

You've read about those other opportunities, like the Manila exhibition being planned this week.  There are endorsement and media opportunities, every manner of one-off chance for the players to pad their wallets while the lockout tries to starve them.

But what about a simpler approach? What about good old fashioned money management? 

The NBPA has been active in preparing its players for this lockout, much more so than 1999. The union distributed a handbook (which I keep imagining looks like the one in "Beetlejuice") that has information on everything from handling the media with their message, to how to conduct themselves around the owners. Most importantly, it talks about saving money. 

Now, that's not exactly penetrating advice. When you were 21 or 22, and your mother kept harping on you to open a savings account, did you do that, or did you go to that bar or buy that video game? If you did listen, congratulations, you're a momma's boy/girl. If you didn't, you're a normal person. But in the NBA, there are enough veterans that were around 12 years ago, and the NBPA has been proactive enough that it's likely made a difference. Players have been stashing cash away for this oh-so-rainy day. They have reserves to rely on if the lockout isn't resolved, some all the way through the season. 

But what about going farther than that? What about simply managing your paychecks for last season to last through the current one? It turns out, from a report from USA Today, that's exactly what some players have done.
Players normally receive bi-weekly paychecks from Nov. 15 to May 1, although some opt for a November to November schedule. But Aminu will receive payments from last season until Nov. 1, 2012. Randolph will be paid through May 1, 2012.
via Some NBA players planned ahead for lengthy lockout - USATODAY.com.

The owners can't lock the players out of money owed before the last CBA expires. Players that set up their paychecks this way will still be receiving paychecks, albeit smaller ones, throughout the course of the year. In short, they're fine. More than fine.

So let's just review here.

The owners have installed a lockout based on their debated losses stemming from an economic model they agreed to and the poor decisions they elected to enact as well as a flawed revenue system. Their entire plan is to starve the players into submission, but not only did they leave the door open for a possible mass exodus to Europe and other potential revenue sources, but they actually agreed to pay some players throughout the terms of their lockout. 

How could this plan possibly go wrong?

So the question has to be asked. Is a two-year lockout what it's going to take for the owners to get their petulant little way? What's next in the never-ending stream of ways that the owners threw this situation together, and at what point is someone with a little reason going to grab the reins? Until people start to understand that the players aren't asking for more, just not that much less, and that they are more than prepared to go the distance here, it's hard to see that day in sight. 

This is a Cold War, and both sides are waving their flags strongly. The only question is whose wall will collapse first.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 1:32 pm
 

It's not always 'shun-ny' in Seacaucus

By Matt Moore

When the NBA entered the lockout, David Stern's office issued what is essentially a nuclear gag order, more of a "shun order" to members of the league office, coaches, team officials and staff. Basically, the first rule of lockout club is you do not talk to the players about lockout club. The league threatened a $1 million (note: one million dollars) fine on anyone who broke the rule and there's been concern that people like Rick Carlisle could get tagged for it. 

Except when the league said that, it only really meant it in most situations, or ones they're not aware of. More specifically, they meant it for situations where the owner isn't present. Because apparently otherwise, it's fine.

A prime example:
But while Heat stars James, Wade -- recovering from Lasik eye surgery and sporting shades, both pictured below with Bosh -- and Juwan Howard were seated in an area separate from the suits', they later mingled on the dance floor with team GM Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, vice president Nick Arison, the son of Heat owner Micky Arison and former Heat all-star Alonzo Mourning, who now works in player relations. They got special permission from the league to attend the glitzy bash together.

One guest said, "The players were on one side of the ballroom, the executives on the other, and later they met on the dance floor."
via NBA lockout put on hold as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Miami Heat execs celebrate Chris Bosh's wedding in Miami - NYPOST.com.

And another:
Good to see the NBA gave its blessing for the Rockets to attend Kevin Martin’s wedding and Yao Ming’s retirement announcement.

Martin was married to his longtime girlfriend Jill Adler last weekend and with the league’s permission, Daryl Morey and Gersson Rosas were permitted to attend.

They did, however, have to be careful not to make too much small talk with the athletically gifted members of the guest list.
via NBA schedules out Tuesday — whether they’re needed or not | NBA | a Chron.com blog

So pretty much if there's a wedding, you can mingle with those on the other side of the iron curtain that's been dropped. It helps if an owner's involved. You can meet but only if there's the chicken dance, the Righteous Brothers, or Lil Wayne involved. But seriously, no talking! 

On the one hand, it's nice that the league can differentiate between personal and business. On the other, it's pretty typical that the league says there are no exceptions to the burden of its iron guantlet, except when it says so. 

More importantly (or not), though, how awkward would that conversation be?

"Hey, person who pays my bills except he just locked me out of my job because he wants me to take a drastic paycut?"

"Hi there, employee who I've stonewalled and who has launched a P.R. war against me and my colleagues in pursuit of denying me what I feel is the only way to profitability in the business I run which pays him?"

"..."

"...."

"...Great party!"

"Absolutely! Try the punch!"

"..."

"..."

"... Well, I gotta go, see you, you know, around."

"Yeah, it was good, er, seeing you."

/awkward hand shake

How bizarre must that have been? Of course, by the time they had five or six rum and cokes I'm sure they were more chummy.

Hey, wait a second. 

Guys! I have an idea for how to end the lockout!


Posted on: July 15, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 6:59 pm
 

So you want to win people's support: NBA Owners

How can NBA owners win the public relations battle during the NBA lockout? Posted by Ben Golliver.

silver-stern

On Thursday, Matt Moore took a look at how NBA players can curry favor from the general public during the ongoing NBA lockout. His plan included circling the wagons, being honest and educating fans and taking the high road. All great ideas for any negotiation, especially one as high-profile and public as the NBA's.

With the players' PR plan in place, how about the owners? What can this group of billionaires due to help gain support, if not sympathy, for their plight? 

Let's start off by acknowledging that this is an impossible task. The common man cannot relate to the billionaire. It's impossible. The gap is too wide, the lifestyles are too different, the realities are too disparate. Likewise, the billionaire, no matter how hard he tries, cannot put himself in the common man's shoes. Once your income hits the eighth or ninth digit, a bubble forms around you that is impervious to real, everyday struggles.  When people are hired to pick up your dry cleaning or answer your telephone or manage your Twitter account, it's over. There's no going back.

The goal for the NBA owners, then, shouldn't be unrealistic. They don't need to come off like Santa Claus. Instead, they just need to appear a little bit less like Montgomery Burns. Right now, the general air from ownership and the league is that it doesn't much care for the public relations side of this battle. It has remained very quiet, refused to open its books publicly and responded to only a few accusations with prepared statements. Otherwise, pretty much total silence. 

In that vacuum, the players have shined. They've put together funny spoof commercials, shown off their skills in pick-up games and camp across the globe, continued their massive presence on social networking sites and done a very good job of communicating their desire to not miss any games. Put all of that together, and the owners have a tough uphill battle to climb.

Here are five things they should do to get started on the public relations war:

1. Pledge To Protect All League Jobs

The No. 1 complaint against any professional sports team owner who locks out players is that he is greedy. That's the No. 1 complaint because it's pretty much always true. There's no good, direct answer to that question. The owners have made it clear they want more money, significantly more money, and that makes them look greedy.

A good work-around solution: Do what you can to make the players look greedy. Put all the pressure and attention on players' salaries -- they make millions to play a game -- while doing whatever you can to make yourself look like a philanthropist. Encourage your teams to increase their efforts in the community. More camps! More hospital visits by team employees! More everything! Then, to cap it all off, pledge to protect all jobs -- within the team and at the league level -- throughout the duration of any work stoppage. 

See what that would do? It would isolate the players, making them look like the bad guys. "We're all over here doing our jobs and protecing our hard-working employees and their families while you guys make so much money it threatens to put us out of business!" The general public highly values loyalty and commends those who put their employees' interests before their own. 

Oh, wait. Wait. You're telling me the NBA announced less than two weeks into the lockout that it's laying off 11% of its workforce and then said it was due to a desire to cut costs? In other words, because the league wanted to keep more of the money it was generating? Oh boy. We're off to a rocky start here. 

2. Don't Make Idle Threats

Appearing tough is very, very important during a negotiation. You can't blink first. You've got to make it clear that every word that you speak is to be taken seriously and every demand you make must be met or the entire deal is at stake. Those are basic negotiating principles. Whatever you do, owners, do not make idle threats. If you say that you will take an action if something happens, you have to take that action when that something happens, or you look both soft and like you're blowing smoke. Your credibility gets crushed and the other side has no real incentive to take any of your other demands seriously. 

Unfortunately, the NBA has failed this one too. As soon as the lockout went into effect on July 1, the league made it very clear that a gag order was in place. No team employees were to make public reference to a current player or they would risk a $1 million fine. In addition, the NBA scrubbed its website of references to current players. 

Granted, that's a fairly ridiculous and petty decision, but it was their decision. What's happened since the gag order went into effect is even worse. Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn mentioned multiple players during a press conference streaming live on his team's official website. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle mentioned multiple players during a radio interview. Both were clear violations of the supposed gag order and yet the NBA has tap-danced around whether it will fine the offenders as threatened. Guess what? Until someone gets fined, and fined big, violations of the gag order will continue ad nauseum. Each time a coach or team executive accidentally steps out of line, the NBA looks less and less in control and united.

In the public's eye, they start to look like they're full of it. Why should the Average Joe believe the NBA is losing millions of dollars a year if the league won't follow through on its promise to fine people? Say what you mean and mean what you say. Hammer the offenders or offer a really, really good explanation for why you didn't. Otherwise, the impression is that you're tough-talking bullies who don't need to be taken seriously.

3. Take The Lead On Meetings

This is an easy one. Fans do not want to miss games whatsoever. The players seem committed to doing whatever it takes to not miss games. At least some portion of the owners seem content to miss a whole season. That's a huge public relations black eye.

The best way to fix it? Go way above and beyond to make it clear that you're willing to meet to negotiate at any time and place. No two-to-three week breaks after the lockout is imposed. No waiting until the players start to feel a pinch in the fall. No delay tactics. If you're seriously committed to potentially losing a season, you absolutely have to be able to point to your track record and say, "Look, we did everything in our power to prevent this from happening. We killed ourselves to make a deal." Get up early, stay late, use videoconferencing tools, use subcommittees. Whatever. It. Takes. If you want a new, restructured economic system then you must do everything in your power to prove your commitment to the goal. 

Missing a season would be a bitter pill to swallow, but it will be 10 times worse if it happens without continued negotiations and contact between the sides between now and the start of training camp. The general public hates billionaires and millionaires arguing over money. But the general public really hates billionaires and millionaires who can't even be brought to the same table to argue over money.

4. Use The Past As A Guide For The Future 

The NBA just completed a Collective Bargaining Agreement that both sides, obviously, signed off on. The owners chose to lock the players out because they felt an overhaul was necessary. Other than repeating a desire to guarantee a profit to its teams and increase competitive balance, the owners have not done a good job of communicating exactly what portions of the framework need to be reworked, and why. An important ingredient in this communication is explaining what didn't go according to the owners' plan at the time.

While the league has maintained that it won't conduct negotiations in public, finding a way to present the flaws or unexpected outcomes from the previous deal would help the general public have a much better idea of where they are coming from. Just about everyone can relate to changing interest rates on their mortgage, car loan or credit cards. No one likes to pay more after the fact than they were expecting, especially if it's something that is out of their control. The owners would be wise to own up and lay out the areas where that occurred. "We didn't anticipate this" or "This wound up costing way more than projections" or "This competitior came in and influenced this revenue projection" or whatever.

Lay those out as mistakes or needs for correction. Then, and only then, provide the remedies and explain why those remedies protect the league from future risk. Belts have been tightened across the country. People have spent more conservatively on discretionary items. Connect your goals to that behavior and you've got a real chance to make some headway.

5. Paint A Pretty Picture 

As any GM worth his salts knows, you absolutely must sell hope. There needs to be a pot of gold over this rainbow. All the dreary talk about losing money gets people down. Nobody cares if you're losing money. Again, you've got to flip this for fans. What is in it for them? 

The owners must start painting the dream. How great will the NBA be in three years if you get your way? How many homes will be watching games then compared to now? How many teams that would have had to move will be safe in their current locations? How many teams won't have to be contracted? How many jobs will be saved and/or restored? How many hours of community service can be added? What cool new events can be added to All-Star Weekend? What preseason showcase tours will pop up on the schedule? What interactive TV or internet programming will now be possible?

Sell. Sell. Sell. You made millions selling products or services. Do not stop selling the future of your league in your vision. People want to hear it. Just make sure it sounds better than the status quo for someone besides yourselves.

Conclusion

When it's all over, offer the fans a blatant kickback. Discounted tickets or jerseys. Public autograph sessions. Free NBA League Pass for an extra few weeks. Whatever. Have a goodwill gesture on tap because, regardless of how long the lockout extends, you'll need it. 
Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 10:56 pm
 

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



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.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:35 am
 

The NBA Lockout: Idiocy in design



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 2, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Stern: No franchise tag in new NBA CBA?

NBA commissioner David Stern seems to indicate that there will not be a franchise tag in the league's new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Given the Miami Heat's smashing success this postseason, Superteams and the player movement that helps create them are a hot topic around the NBA.

Back in May
, we noted a report that the NBA had reportedly included a franchise tag designation in a proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would have provided greater protections for teams looking to increase their ability to retain star players. Unlike the National Football League's tag, the NBA's version would have simply strengthened the enticements available for a player's current team to keep a player rather than effectively locking a player up by preventing him from entering free agency.

On Wednesday, NOLA.com reported that NBA commissioner David Stern contradicted the report of a proposed franchise tag in his State of the Union speech from Miami before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 
“That hasn’t been proposed,” Stern said. “We have historically tried to make it more attractive for a player to stay with his current team, and I’m sure that trend will continue, if not enhanced.

“But as you consider this with respect to the small-market teams, and you think about what a harder cap might do for them, and you consider what revenue sharing might do for them, there are sort of limits what the committee is thinking about, and the franchise tag is not one of them. Although a strong incentive for a player to stay with his team and the ability of the team to keep the player is there.’’

If the NBA did shift to a hard cap system, it would certainly help serve the purpose of keeping star players in place. Why? Because big-market and high-spending teams are the franchises that tend to attract stars in free agency and they aren't likely to have the patience to create significant room under the salary cap to be able to sign a player out-right and remain under the cap. Keep in mind how difficult it was for the Heat to create room under the soft cap system to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and then retain Dwyane Wade. They had to essentially slash-and-burn their roster. That process would be significantly more difficult to manage under a hard cap system. 

One other related point of discussion has been the elimination of sign-and-trades. This, too, would go a long way to keeping star players put. Without a sign-and-trade option, only teams that were under the cap could attempt to sign big-name and big-dollar free agents. With a sign-and-trade provision, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are able to acquire star players as long as they send back salary or assets in return to make the numbers work.

The player movement question is a tricky one. A modified franchise tag would have been welcome by the league's smaller markets and struggling franchises. Given that 22 teams are reportedly losing money this season and that everyone has quickly seen how powerful a team can become if star players move in unison, odds are something will be added to the new CBA that will at least slow down that flow.

We just aren't sure exactly what that is yet.
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com