NBA Lockout Ultimatum – Who Is To Blame ?

There does not appear to be any specific “who” when trying to decide where the blame lies in the NBA Lockout. Fingers point in all directions.

The union representing all NBA players certainly did well during the previous lockout (1998-1999), garnering an unprecedented 57% of all BRI (Basketball Related Income) being directed to the player’s pockets.

Under the time period of the “57% players – 43% owners” split the popularity of basketball grew, as did gross BRI – up over 4% in a year, to a total of $3.8 billion during the 2010-2011 season.

Unfortunately, some small market owners are claiming they have sustained losses that cannot be endured.

The result? Certain hard-line owners, including player-turned-owner Michael Jordan (Charlotte Bobcats), want to change everything and demand that players receive a maximum 47% of BRI.

That the loss-generating owners could even think that is fair simply means they should, minimally, have their heads examined.

Another owner, super mega-billionaire Paul Allen (Microsoft, Portland Trail Blazers), spent money extravagently trying to buy himself a title in the NBA. The net result: no title and a financial loss, on paper anyway. He feels players, not he or his management team, are to blame.

Allen wants owners, like himself, who own teams that are in the red, to be given a larger share of the pie.

Perhaps there is some logic in that. Players do make awfully good money for playing a game that they love. And super-stars earn even more with their endorsements, which, in the end, adds to the price tag of that product or service they hawk.

However, the owner logic probably does not exist.

How do owners of successful businesses (afterall, they are all billionaires) lose money in the NBA? More than likely it is due, pure and simply, to their huge ego.

For most, owning a pro sports franchise is primarily a sideline, not a mainline activity. And they simply do not manage their teams as they do their businesses. Otherwise, they would not allow themselves to be “luxury taxed.” They would not let an agent lock them in to an unrealistic over-the-top contract for a player who really does not deserve it.

And then there is NBA Commissioner David Stern. At a press conference Stern claimed there was a deal on the table. A couple of sentences later he states that if the deal is not accepted by close of business Wednesday the next offer will be even worse. That is not good-faith negotiation. That is intimidation. That is dictatorship.

So what does all of this mean in terms of negotiating a settlement that both the owners and the players feel is fair? Unfortunately, no one knows.

There is no crystal ball that will inform one and all that “this is the magic number, this is the way mid-level exceptions should be handled, etc, etc.”

In the end it comes down to common sense and, possibly, that the opinions and desires of owners who spend lavishly should be discounted, if not tossed out in their entirely. They only hinder the process.

And, when an agreement is finally reached, owners will still be billionaires and players will still be millionaires.

Meanwhile, the sports fans, who ultimately put every single dollar into the pockets of both sides by subscribing to NBA TV, attending games, purchasing team and player gear, even buying a hot dog while rooting their team on, can only sit on the sidelines, frustrated as the drama continues.

Over For Now.

Main Street One