OKLAHOMA CITY -- In his annual pre-Finals media address, commissioner David Stern took aim at flopping, calling the practice "trickery" and "deceit," and admitted for the first time that the NBA received 100 percent of its national TV revenue by starting the season on Christmas Day.
Now, you know why ending that pesky lockout on Thanksgiving weekend was so important.
"It's been a great year for us," Stern said Tuesday night before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat played Game 1 of the Finals. "It's been better than we expected, and indeed, it was better than we could have hoped for."
By ending the lockout Nov. 27 after 149 days and ensuring that the season would begin on the marquee Christmas landmark for the sport, the league and players' association capitalized on a moment fans and partners could rally around -- and make money around. Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver were able to negotiate with the television networks a full payment of their approximately $900 million national broadcast rights fees for the 2011-12 season -- even though it was only 66 games.
|2012 NBA Finals Coverage|
"By starting on Christmas, and based upon other negotiations, we were able to secure the entirety of the league broadcast revenues for this year," Stern said. "But we nevertheless lost 20 percent of the season and 20 percent of our games and 20 percent of our local TV revenues and the like."
And the players lost 20 percent of their salaries -- more, if you consider that their share of the revenues went down from 57 percent to about 50 percent and that reduced amount was prorated by 66/82nds. The players, of course, share the national broadcast revenues, so Stern being able to procure the full rights fees helped them, too.
ABC didn't have any games scheduled to air before Christmas Day, and ESPN wound up not losing any telecasts due to the shortened season. Only TNT lost games.
Stern and Silver said they didn't have the final numbers, calculated in concert with the players' association, for the league's profit-loss picture this season. Silver has said the league was projected to break even this season after losing more than $300 million in the final year of the old CBA and turn a profit by next season.
Stern also confirmed that the competition committee will discuss the issue of flopping at its next meeting June 18, and called it "tricks that are designed to fool the ref."
"Flopping almost doesn't do it justice," Stern said. "Trickery, deceit, designs to cause the game to be decided other than on its merits. We'll be looking at that."
As for the overall state of the league's officiating, Stern said, "The state of the referees is spectacular for human beings. What's the next question?"
With the Thunder in the Finals, Stern took the opportunity to revel in the success of small markets, mentioning Memphis, Indiana, Utah and San Antonio as proof that the new labor deal is working. Of course, those rosters were put in place largely under the old rules, and Silver admitted after the news conference that the Thunder having to make tough choices about breaking up their young core of stars could be an unintended consequence of the new rules.
"That's the precise point we made to the union in collective bargaining," Silver said. "That's why we would've preferred a hard cap."