Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:06 pm
This entry has been removed by the administrator.
This message has been removed by the administrator.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:26 pm
By Matt Moore
Imagine there's a U.N. debate. It's a discussion on global economics, centered around a few key and pivotal points, and a compromise must be reached in some form. The ramifications of this meeting are monumental dependent on the outcome (I know, it's the U.N., use your imagination). Both sides began on polar opposite sides of the issues. But as things have gone on, there have been more and more concessions from both sides, though clearly one side is expressing its overwhelming leverage from a position of strength, arguably to an excessive degree.
To close this deal, with so much on the line, do you send in your experienced diplomat, the man who has the know-how and demeanor to establish guidelines, work to squirrel away as much as can be reasonably established, and ensure that the lines of communication stay open? Or do you send in your slightly off-balance general who too often resorts to screaming and who considers everything to be a battlefield?
The owners sent in the warrior, and that at least partially contributed to the disaster of losing games so close to a deal.
Dual independent reports from ESPN today tell of the meeting that could have saved the season, and of the reported 50/50 deal that fell apart (which both sides claim came from the other side). And the conclusion came not with Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher dealing with the union, but with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant... and Kevin Garnett marching in to tell the owner's what what.
The first report came from Bill Simmons in his column yesterday at Grantland
During one of the single biggest meetings (last week, on Tuesday), Hunter had Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Garnett (combined years spent in college: three) negotiate directly with Stern in some sort of misguided "Look how resolved we are, you're not gonna intimidate us!" ploy that backfired so badly that one of their teams' owners was summoned into the meeting specifically to calm his player down and undo some of the damage. (I'll let you guess the player. It's not hard.) And this helped the situation … how? And we thought this was going to work … why?via Bill Simmons Avoids a Few Subjects Before Making His Week 6 NFL Picks - Grantland.
OK, a vague report which doesn't name the particular player that went nuts. We can pass that asi...oh. From TrueHoop:
As Stern has recounted a dozen times since, not long after what was supposed to have been the hallway conversation that saved the season, something odd and wholly unexpected happened. There was a knock on the door where Stern was selling his owners on the idea. The players wanted to talk.via TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.
Ooh, ooh! I'll answer it! Me! Me! Me!
Under no circumstances should Kevin Garnett be in charge of negotiating anything but an entry pass from Rajon Rondo on the left block. That's it. Not only should Garnett not be heading the conversations, Garnett shouldn't be allowed inside the building. He, Dan Gilbert, and Robert Sarver should be barred from the building, through court orders, if necessary. This whole disgusting charade has gone on long enough with ego, dramatics, and nonsense running the show. This is a business negotiation, and even if both sides want to approach it from the ruthless, cutthroat perspective, let it be done with the pen, not with petty shows of strength that only manage to detonate critical talks at a critical time.
Garnett's going to get the most blame for this based off of his reported behavior. But Pierce and Kobe were both in the room, and should share the blame. The goal was to show the owners they won't back down. What they managed to do was weaken the union's position by making them look out of their league, which was reinforced on Friday with JaVale McGee's "folding" disaster. It's admirable that the players wanted to make a show of strength. But this wasn't the way to do it. Calmly standing behind Billy Hunter and reasserting their stand at 53 percent? Okay, not really helping the whole situation, but it's a reasonable position.
Going solo with or without Hunter's permission and winding up in a screaming match with the owners?
That's not a reasonable approach. That's making a bad situation worse.
This entire scenario is reflective of the simplest terms of the lockout. The owners have been intransigent, manipulative, hypocritcal, and self-contradictory. They've pushed 50/50 as a compromise, when in reality it's a cave-in by the players to what the owner want. They've extorted and back the players into a corner. It's nearly shameful the power grab that's gone on throughout the course of these negotiations, dating back two years.
And the players?
They're in that corner, and they can't stop themselves from running into the walls.
God save the NBA.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 12:00 am
By Matt Moore
Matt Moore:So who, individually is winning and losing the lockout? My brief list.
Winners: David West, Greg Oden (rehab). Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (age). Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade (image).
Losers: Rookies (obv.). DeAndre Jordan ($$$$$).
Royce Young: Derek Fisher. I think he's increased his image as the statesman of the NBA. I don't know how good a job he's really doing, but he always comes across as measured, professional and calm. The guy's in the twilight of his NBA career, but his performance as president of the union is going to net him a pretty sweet gig after he retires, I think. Front office exec? Coach? The next Billy Hunter? I could see basically anything for Fisher.
Ben Golliver: I hate to say it but I think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are big winners here. No one entered the offseason with more motivation to bring their A-game to the 2011-2012 season after that jenga collapse in the Finals. As the lockout dragged on, the usual motivating factors for the average player disappeared. Watching these guys workout, play in exhibition games, etc. it's clear they will be ready to go from day one. They will blitz some people hard out of the gate and should stack up enough victories early to get the rest they wanted before last year's playoffs. Same thing, to a lesser extent, goes for Kevin Durant, who has just been a maniac.
Of the younger guys, I like what John Wall and Brandon Jennings did to increase their exposure. Whether that counts for anything long-term is anyone's guess. Both elevated their profile for sure. I still like what Deron Williams and Ty Lawson did, accepting the challenge of a different lifestyle and continuing to play in competitive leagues. Williams took a significantly bigger risk, but as long as he comes home without injury he will be a winner in my eyes. Zigging when everyone zags deserves some kudos. Props to Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas and the other rookies that went back to school. We get on people for jumping too early but never give the round of applause for guys who get back on the diploma track.
They are bigger picture winners.
Eddy Curry is the biggest loser of the lockout and, really, of life. Scratching from exhibition games is really the bottom of the barrel. Same thing goes for Michael Beasley and Matt Barnes and their idiotic antics. Nobody needs any of that. Beasley caught a break when Rick Adelman got hired. He is about to get a great coach. Let's see if he embraces or squelches this opportunity. Take a guess at which is more likely.
Matt Moore: I'd argue Deron's a loser. He made the money but admitted it's been hard on the family and they're not winning and the attendance is terrible. As the biggest star to go he was under pressure to convert that opportunity into success. Making the money, which is always dicey overseas, doesn't make up for the other problems and the lack of impact.
Ben Golliver: If it was that bad he would have left. He's said its brought his family closer together and has been a one-in-a-lifetime experience. I think we can take him at his word about that.
Royce Young:I definitely agree with that, Matt. Deron messed up, in my mind. The Besiktas deal really didn't turn out to be all that lucrative and instead of pimping his profile here in the charity pro-am games, he's toiling away in Turkey in front of half empty arenas. What's so great about that? If it was just intended to be a family vacation, good for him, but I don't know why you can't just go to Turkey. Why sign to play for Besiktas? He got less than other superstars because he signed so early and I don't think he's really gained a whole lot out of it otherwise.
Matt Moore: Also, if we're talking bigger picture winners, no player is a winner because they lost a bazillion dollars between negotiations and lost paychecks.
Ben Golliver: Name one player who made more money playing basketball during the lockout than Deron Williams.
Royce Young: I don't think that's the point though. He didn't make all that much in relative terms, plus hasn't benefitted as much as some other players that stayed here. Williams is a star player. And he's the only star that signed overseas. Don't you think that's a little weird?
Ben Golliver: Not at all. He was in a unique situation with his contract extension coming up, with an open mind, a desire to see the world and make money, and a team that would give him a max contract even if he broke both his legs because they already mortgaged the franchise for him. Why single someone out for criticism because he made a unique choice that will prove to be in his best interests as long as he doesn't get hurt (and could still be in his best interests even if he does)? This was a great way to get back in shape after an injury, it took guts, he's getting rewarded and he is living life on his own terms, not those of the NBA owners. He's not begging fans to let him play on Twitter, he proactively sought a deal that will pay him more than any other player during the down time and will be ready to go when the NBA is back. It wasn't a decision many stars could make but there were good reasons behind it and he showed courage. That makes him a winner to me.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:46 pm
By Matt Moore
If you'd asked me yesterday afternoon about NBA players and their use of Twitter during the lockout, I would have said two things. One, they are almost entirely unapproachable, preferring to answer only elements of positive support or comments from other players. And two, their knowledge of how to use Twitter to express their views about the lockout have been woefully inadequate. Most notably, the #standunited and #letusplay hashtags were terribly conceived. You know what happens if you tell the public to ask the owners to let them play without any context as to the issue or your real position? You look stupid. And incapable of harnessing social media. And did I mention stupid?
If you're the union and want to use Twitter correctly, you can hold the line on the players' side of negotiations while actually being honest with fans. Sure, a lot of casual fans aren't aware of the nuances of the lockout. But those same individuals are unlikely to be swayed by a hashtag. There's more information than ever available for interested fans to learn about BRI, revenue sharing, all of it. Whether they agree with you or not, it's better to level with them and seem reasonable than to simply blindly shout at the owners and beseech the fans to support the players without understanding their side of the dispute. Shouting hasn't gotten us anywhere in the lockout, on either side.
Which is why Anthony Tolliver's appearance on Twitter Thursday night was such a surprise. I found Tolliver taking questions from fans with actual substance regarding the lockout. Our brief exchange, while he also discussed the dispute with other fans was both mature and insightful. This from a player who worked his way up from the D-League into a reserve role with the Wolves last season. Tolliver is at once the kind of player who needs the lockout over most based on his salary and the kind of player that the lockout is being waged over, the non-stars who feel they need long-term stability.
It began with Tolliver commenting "If the owners want competative balance lets have no cap! #letsjustplaybasketball." I responded to another comment from him regarding how baseball has competitive balance (on the surface, considering the small market teams that regularly appear in the World Series; timely given the Championship Series of St. Louis-Milwaukee), asking about how the Yankees still enjoy a distinct advantage due to their payroll. It was then that Tolliver began to engage in an actual dialogue, the kind the union should have been having its players participate in with fans or media or whoever they'd like instead of participating in the Twitter version of holding a sign while yelling into a megaphone. What follows are pieces of that conversation. Tweets have been edited to make reading it easier. It's hard to hold a conversation in 140 characters at a time.
Tolliver: Smart management is what creates competitive balance more than anything....not caps.
Tolliver: The Yanks have had success but what im saying is that the owners think they can "fix" the balance with a cap.
Moore: Well, that's what they're saying. I've gotten to where I don't believe they care about the balance at all. Just the profit.
Tolliver: I agree...lol. At the end of the day if they all can line their pockets with more cash they wont care about balance.
Moore: Do you guys care about competitive balance or is it one where you think it will just work itself out, i.e. survival of fittest?
Tolliver: I played on the worst team in the league and im not asking for help! we have enough talent to improve and compete.
Moore: So you think with... different approaches by management (trying to keep you out of trouble) the Wolves can compete with LA?
Tolliver: It is tougher for small market teams but it always will be
Moore: Right, but the ability to abuse the lux tax by large markets helps. There's a balance to be struck there, right?
Tolliver: With great draft choices and strategic trades i believe that ANY team can be very competitive.
Moore: (I) (d)on't mind shortening the gap with (revenue) sharing or some systemic change. (I) mind owners bullying you and squabbling over who offered 50/50 first.
Tolliver: Oh and the revenue sharing for the NBA is by far the lowest of all professional sports so yeah...that needs to increase fa sho.
Moore: If you're keeping guaranteed contracts (which you should), is shortening them a reasonable compromise? Just how much is (the question)?
Tolliver: I think shortening them is fair...and even compromising on other issues is fair as long as its compromising on both ends.
Tolliver: I believe there needs to be some changes as well. i just want a fair deal so i can play the game that i love.
Moore: Problem is that when you guys say you want to play, fans get insulted because you want to play for what you feel is a fair deal. You guys would do better if you didn't say you just wanted to play, but wanted to play when you're not bullied. Most of the smart people know the owners have driven the lockout, but the "we just want to play" approach is patronizing.
Tolliver: Why is that patronizing? We all just want to play ball BUT with a fair deal. I guess its all relative.
Moore: We live in a smarter world with messaging. So saying "just want to play" when there are caveats seems disingenuous, even if not.
Tolliver: Thats way too much to say lol...I'll stick with I JUST WANT TO PLAY. LOL.
Moore: Hey, that's easier. I'm just telling you the reactions the media gets from fans, a lot of whom have supported the union.
Tolliver: I gotcha...when players say that they dont want to offend the fans. we know the fans MAKE us who we are.. #fanappreciation
Moore: Do you think the anger and resentment from the players side at the owners antics is a good thing or a bad thing?
Tolliver: I'm not sure if the emotions the players are showing hurt or help our cause..all i know is guys LOVE this game and want to play.
Moore: Amar'e, Blake, Kobe, Steve seem pretty reasonable, but some of your guys are downright pissed. Hurt or help?
Tolliver: Some guys dont (know) all the details of whats going on..all they (know) is that the owners are locking us out & that makes them mad.
Moore: How much of it do you follow?
Tolliver: I follow every word, every article, every news story...this is my livelyhood for hopefully the next 10 years!
Moore: Has the lockout been one of the few instances where the players don't feel like the media is out to get them?
Tolliver: Media is ALWAYS out to get us! They are EVIL!!! LOL
Moore: You realize now I have to write a post tomorrow that says "WOLVES PF BELIEVES IN OCCULT" right? It's in my contract. #notreally
Tolliver: LOL aight...i dont want u to lose ur job. LOL.
Tolliver also took questions and comments from a number of fans and writers on Twitter, giving what at least appeared to be honest opinions about the state of negotiations.
His insight is a nice peek beneath the rhetoric. Tolliver acknowledges the need for change and compromise, while holding to his colleagues' stances on various issues including competitive balance. He doesn't dodge questions about players' reactions to the dispute, but also doesn't try and speak for them or against him. It's this kind of reasonable, honest dialogue that should be the backbone of the negotiations, not the players' discussions with fans and media on Twitter. But at least it shows us that the middle class of NBA players, who have become the dividing line in the negotiations headed intow next week's mediation session, have a working knowledge of the dispute, the issues involved, and a recognition of how the lockout is hurting the fans. They're willing to listen. If only both sides guiding the dispute would.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:51 am
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.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
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.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
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.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?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 10:18 am
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.
So as you can see, we're kind of up against it here.