Posted on: August 4, 2011 10:40 pm

David Stern makes less than Selig, Goodell?

Posted by Ben Golliver


Executive pay is always a touchy subject, so when reports surfaced that NBA commissioner David Stern was hauling in upwards of $20 million per year in salary, there was plenty of outrage among fans and current players alike.

Indeed, a salary in that ballpark would have given him a bigger deal than every NBA player except for one: Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who is set to make more than $25 million next season.

But since the $23 million figure was reported by Yahoo! Sports earlier this week, multiple reports have pushed back.

One ESPN.com report placed Stern's salary at $15-16 million; another said Stern is paid about $9 million.

On Thursday night, the Associated Press weighed in, citing anonymous league officials who claim Stern makes less than $10 million a year.
Two league officials say NBA Commissioner David Stern makes less than baseball's Bud Selig or the NFL's Roger Goodell, leaving his salary far below the more than $20 million that's been reported.

One of the officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that Stern's salary is set by the advisory/finance committee, which consists of 11 owners. The people were granted anonymity because the NBA does not release individual salaries.

Selig makes more than $18 million annually. Goodell receives about $10 million in salary, bonus and incentives.
It really doesn't make much sense for Stern to be making significantly less than Selig and less than Goodell. He's been on the job for longer than either of his counterparts, having assumed the commissioner's role in 1984. Selig became MLB commissioner officially in 1998; Goodell took the NFL's top spot in 2006. And SBNation.com recently unearthed a report noting that Stern was the highest-paid commissioner in professional sports in 1990, making more than all of his counterparts put together.

Stern's salary is said to be a closely guarded secret, a figure not known to league officials or many ownership sources. The back-and-forth regarding how much he makes is likely to continue to be a speculative matter unless he were to take the unusual step of publicly disclosing it, which seems unlikely.

Regardless of what he makes, Stern has pledged not to accept any pay during the ongoing lockout, although there's always the possiblity those lost wages are re-paid to him once an agreement is reached.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 2:11 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 2:21 am
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Posted on: August 2, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 2:11 pm

Hunter: NBA legal actions are 'without merit'

Posted by Ben Golliver. billy-hunter

On Tuesday morning, we noted that the NBA filed two legal actions against the National Basketball Players Association. These claims included an unfair labor practice charge and a federal lawsuit. The NBA claimed the Players Association was not bargaining in good faith and that the lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws. The legal actions came one day after NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York City that the players were not bargaining in good faith

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA, issued the following statement in response to the legal actions on Tuesday afternoon.
"The litigation tactics of the NBA today are just another example of their bad faith bargaining and we will seek the complete dismissal of the actions as they are totally without merit. The NBA Players Association has not made any decision to disclaim its role as the collective bargaining representative of the players and has been engaged in good faith bargaining with the NBA for over two years. We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized.”
Reading between the lines of the legal mumbo jumbo, Hunter is calling these lawsuits a waste of time. He also ties that wasting of time to the potential for missing games next season, reiterating a stance that surfaced last week in which he sounds convinced the entire 2011-2012 season is in jeopardy.

It's unclear exactly when or how the NBPA issued the "unlawful threats to commence a sham decertification" that the NBA claims in its unfair labor charge. I guess we'll just have to stay tuned to the daily machinations of this gripping legal saga to find out!
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 15, 2011 2:09 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 9:38 am

NBA decides 114 jobs are the price of opulence

Posted by Matt Moore

Unless you started covering it from the beginning, which removes your frame of reference, spend enough time around the NBA and you'll learn the real meaning of "opulence." It's everywhere. From the cars the players drive, to their jewelry, to the locker rooms where they spend a grand total of about four hours every night. It's in the banquet halls and the hotels reserved and the equipment used. It's in the gift bags for friends and media, the free food, the superstar (or Lenny Kravitz) performances, the pyrotechnics, everywhere. It's astounding. Everyone stays at the nicest clubs, eats at the nicest restaurants, travels in the nicest cars and buses.

It's in even the tiniest things. At the NBA Finals, along with All-Star Weekend, the NBA gives away gift bags for the media. A little thank you to say "We appreciate you bringing attention to our business, even though half the time you're jumping on our mistakes like cobras on an injured mouse." This year it was a simple wireless mouse and a mousepad that has the Finals logo on it. A schlocky little thing that was still pretty nice when you think about it being free. I kept it mostly because I wanted to give it to my newborn son when he is older to say "Your father got this at the first Finals he covered."

Tomorrow I'm taking it to the nearest charitable donations joint and dropping it off. Because now it's just a reminder of how opulence wasted has cost 114 people their jobs tonight when it shouldn't have. It's nothing but a guilty reminder of how the mismanagement of resources and revenue can wind up costing real people their jobs, jobs they need. All I can think about is the stacks and stacks of mouses and mousepads, most of which were most likely never claimed, sitting there on a table. How much could have been saved without their purchase, transport, or handling? It's not just a trinket, it's a guilt trip after what the league has decided this week.

From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Word of the planning session came as the league laid off 114 employees from its New York, New Jersey and international offices this week in what it described as an ongoing cost-cutting effort aimed at shedding $50 million in expenses. The layoffs represented 11 percent of the league workforce and were felt across multiple divisions. The NBA also closed its offices in Tokyo and Paris.

The job reductions were "not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue — that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement released to media outlets inquiring about the layoffs.
via League, union to hold first post-lockout meeting - CBSSports.com.

114 people.

These aren't stats on a page, figures tossed around in an analysis. These are real people. Most of whom probably badly needed this job and unless you know of another professional basketball league happening in the states right now, probably are going to have a hard time making a seamless transition elsewhere. 

Now in this economy, that should be easy to forgive. Even as there are signs of a slow recovery, inching along at a snail's pace, that the corner has been turned and there are brighter days ahead, everyone has had to tighten their belt. It should be easy to forgive the NBA for having to go through the same pains as everyone else. But they haven't. They're not struggling to find a consumer base. They're not dealing with dwindling income. They're not drowning as their target audience shifts towards something else. No, instead, attention hasn't been this high since Jordan graced the court. Ratings are up and showing no signs of coming back down. The league is interesting, and marketable, and boy, is it revenue-inducing.

Merchandising is reaching an all-time high. In 2004, they were projected to make $3.3 billion in merchandising sales. The league earns $900 million from their television contracts, and even that's undersold. David Stern reportedly made $23 million last year. Even if he didn't, he made a whole lot more than those 114 people make combined. Eddy Curry made a little short of $12 million last year. Mike Dunleavy Jr. $11 million. I'm not arguing they weren't paid market value. I'm not sayingany of them are overpaid. I'm saying with all of thism oney floating around, with coaches being fined every night, how do you lose the money to pay for 114 people all of a sudden?

There are probably some executives included in the cuts. And the employees were given severance packages. But this was unnecessary. 114 people are out of a job right now, because a professional sports league in 2011 that had its biggest year in a decade, one of the biggest ever, can't figure out how to properly manage its expenses?

I worked for two non-profit organizations during the recession. Both went through the same problems as all non-profits have during the recession. It's not exactly a booming industry. But they planned. They held back. They dipped into reserves. They went into furloughs if they had to, but they avoided firing people. Because this isn't a game, which is what the owners have made this into. The league says this was not impacted by the lockout, a theory exactly zero people believe.

Don't have Lenny Kravitz play at All-Star Weekend during the introductions. Boom, you've just saved five people's job, counting the pyro, production value, and various expenses for travel. Cut back on a few league sponsored parties at All-Star Weekend. Don't cater the bargaining sessions. Hold them at a Motel 6 by the airport (that'll get the deal done faster, I promise you). Do any of these things and you've saved jobs. Jobs people need, who are depending on them. What about all that money from finding Mark Cuban and David Kahn and Phil Jackson? I understand that money went to charity. Couldn't that money have been saved to keep a position? With as much money as is thrown around the NBA, couldn't someone, somewhere have socked away enough cash to let people keep working at their jobs?

While we're at it, why don't we throw in all the money David Stern should have fined Donald Sterling over the past few decades. Wouldn't that have taken the sting out a little bit?

Shane Battier won't be getting his paycheck in the fall. Which means if he doesn't play abroad, or take another position, or find some endorsement money, he'll have to dip into his mountainous reserves. The same for every player. Even the lowest level guys are looking at things getting tight and possibly having to sell one of their multiple cars.

The people that were laid off this week by the NBA, the 114? They're out of a job, now. They didn't have to be, but here they are. Maybe they deserved to be. Maybe their positions were utterly useless. If that's the case, why not just reassign them? Have them work on creating efficiency plans or, I don't know, creative ways to end the lockout. Maybe they were just lazy. Maybe 11 percent of the NBA's total workforce really was just lazy and redundant. But doesn't that reflect the people at the top and their organizational structure more than it does the people who were actually affected by this?

The NBA has a right to run its business towards profit and to act in its own self-interest. But to trot out their opulence time and time agian, to splurge on so many little things that when you add them up it looks like one of those trash mountains from "Wall-E," it's not only off-putting, it's downright nauseating. David Stern has probably frozen his salary during this lockout that they've seen coming for two years. Maybe if he'd started sooner, those 114 people would still have their jobs. 

The owners are grumpy from greed. The players are indignant out of a perceived necessity. The fans are angry on principle and just want their game back. 

And 114 people are out of a job tonight, 114 jobs which could have been saved with a little more restraint, a little more compromise, a little more consideration.

Just like the lockout.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 8:43 pm

NBA lockout officially announced in statement

The NBA officially announced that it would be locking out its players on Thursday afternoon. Posted by Ben Golliver. lockout-graphic

On Thursday afternoon, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that representatives of the NBA owners had informed representatives of the National Basketball Players Association that the league would proceed with a lockout after negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in New York proved unsuccessful.

Within hours, the NBA released an official statement on its website, confirming that a lockout will commence early Friday morning.

Here's the full text of the statement via NBA.com.
The National Basketball Association announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, effective at 12:01 am ET on July 1, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association.

"The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams," said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. "We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable."

"We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players' share -- an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth," said Silver. "Elements of our proposal would also better align players' pay with performance."

"We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game."

During the lockout, players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.
There's nothing groundbreaking in the five paragraph statement. The same themes that have been hammered on for months now are repeated: a broken financial system, aligning pay with performance and creating a better competitive environment for small-market teams.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 7:13 pm

NBA officially cancels Las Vegas Summer League

The NBA has officially cancelled the 2011 Las Vegas Summer League. Posted by Ben Golliver. adam-silver

The clock is ticking on the NBA's labor negotiations, and the word is on Friday that the league has run out of time for one major annual event.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports from New York City that NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the league has axed plans to hold the 2011 Las Vegas Summer League.

"We also told the union at the conclusion of today’s session that we would be canceling the Las Vegas Summer League this weekend and we made clear to the union it was purely a function of the calendar and drop-dead dates with hotels and the arena," Silver said. "No intent to send signals of any kind to the players, but it was an unfortunate consequence that, at this late date, we still do not have a deal beginning July 1."

The league's annual Summer League pits draft picks, second-year players, D-League players and unsigned free agents in a round-robin style format that typically brings the league's basketball executives and national media together in the desert.

Summer League has grown in popularity in recent years, and games are regularly televised on NBA TV. The event serves as both a first-chance look at lottery prospects for fans and as an excellent swap meet for executives looking to fill out their rosters.

This decision was widely anticipated and had been rumored for months. The league's Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire July 1, and Las Vegas Summer League typically runs through the second and third weeks of July. With games set to start less than a month from now and no major progress to report in the CBA negotiations, there's not much point for the NBA to continue delaying the inevitable cancellation announcement.
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