The NBA Lockout and/or CBA


It’s sadly upon us.  The NBA, which is a group of owners by the way, not a collection of teams or players or coaches or referees, will probably decide to lockout the players known as the NBPA at midnight eastern time July 1st.  It’s sad, really sad.  The NBA had a banner year, by that I mean that people were clamoring for more information and games and everything than they ever had before.  Blogs launched all over the place, including this one.  TV ratings were up, for about everything except the local games in certain markets (12,000 people watch the Bobcats games according to certain estimates, 7,000 less than a sold out Time Warner Cable Arena).  The whole free-agent crop of 2010 didn’t disappoint, bringing drama and all that stuff that brings more eyeballs to the league.  Super teams formed, young players stepping up; Chicago is back; New York is back; San Antonio had a great regular season; Miami, of course, center for controversy and artifice made it all the way to the NBA Finals; familiar foes Boston and LA are still up on their loft perches and we can’t forget to list Dallas, the team with the most visible owner, won the championship.

It has been a season of high highs, the Bobcats quite included in all of that.  They dominated stories for a few days before Christmas, firing lightning-rod, head coach Larry Brown.  Trading pieces in the off-season, letting players walk and then trading their lone All-Star at the deadline.  It’s been a gathering swarm all year and we’re about to be shut down.  A week after the draft, almost to the minute, the NBA will lockout their players.

I feel like, as I’ve started this site and wanted to build it up, I’ve sort of joined in this little fraternity of NBA-Junkies on twitter and all over this blogosphere.  I’d say outside of comedy writing and maybe scriptwriting in general, there is no more tightly knit and talented group than the folks covering and commenting on the NBA today.  Over the last year or so it’s gained momentum big time.  So it’s this community that I’m sort of a part of, in an odd way just as a visitor on the fringes that will suffer.  What are we going to write about?

Then there are the fans I feel for.  With football on hold, hockey in their two week hiatus but coming off a lockout that lost a whole season of their own, baseball sort of distant and never-ending, unless you’re die-hard; at least we can say there’s NASCAR but they change the damn system and points and all that from week to week so who the hell knows what’s going on there?

As a former season ticket holder for the Bobcats, I get pissed when I think about it.  You shell out, not a whole lot of money, but to a guy like me who doesn’t make a lot, anything other than paying down student loan debt is a chunk, but let’s say you get the worst seats, the get in the house seats at $200 or whatever they are a year.  Then you pay for parking and food and drinks once you get into the game, it gets to be a lot and as a portion of income, it’s a significant chunk over 41 games going to one particular entity and exercise.  You put a lot of effort, heart and soul into your team.  Then they lockout the players, or they just can’t agree or whatever you want to call it and you’re locked out too.

You get the feeling that the players are just the middle-men here.  Lucky guys get 5 years in the league, some far less and you feel for them that they’re this transient bunch that somehow have to fight against this massive corporate behemoth that is 30 very rich men and their army of lawyers led by that little Jewish guy who takes pictures with all the rookies.  The players are who everybody shows up to see right?  They’re the reason there is an NBA and they should get a fair shake in all this!  Damn it, suddenly I’m pro-organized labor!  Let the workers have a voice.

Then dreams of marching on the Secaucus, New Jersey offices are dashed when you see things like:  “it doesnt take a genius to get season ticket holders to renew every year..just lower prices would do that duhhhh okay almost shoe time.”  That via Gilbert Arenas’s twitter.  Yeah, they don’t so much understand the business do they?

We keep making jokes like Forest Gump.  Lieutenant Dan says “Figured I’d stretch out my sea legs.” Forrest:  “But you ain’t got no legs Lieutenant Dan!”  Then the shrimp boat crashes into the dock.  Nic will say to me “I’m really excited for next season.”  And I say “But we ain’t going to have no season!”  And the NBPA and NBA crashes right into the damn dock.

The problem doesn’t so much lie in any of the demands on either side.  Those are just a means to an end.  The issue is that there are some owners, vocal and important, that are losing money at an alarming rate.  Detractors and just general ass-bags will say “Oh, who the hell cares if Milwaukee, Memphis, Minnesota and everybody not named Lakers, Boston, Knicks, Heat and Chicago?”  Well, for one, all the fans in that first group and everybody not in the second group.

The haves and have-nots are at such odds all over both sides of things.  If you look at and in that agree with the numbers that Forbes puts forth are accurate, you can compare the Knicks revenue at $226 million to the Nets at $89 million, that’s a big difference.  You look at operating income, the Knicks again lead with $64 million and the Orlando Magic in last with losses of $23.1 million and the Bobcats just ahead of them at a $20 million loss.  That’s a $87.1 million dollar swing in yearly, yearly income!  Like if you have 2 years that are similar, the Knicks are $160 million (for round numbers) ahead of the Magic.  Sure there are factors involved, such as cost of living in different areas, Orlando just opened up a new arena, New York is renovating an arena they’ve been in for a million years.  I understand that it’s not straight logic and Forbes numbers may be flawed (as pointed out in some of the articles relating to the Bucks owner’s financial disclosure) but you have to see that there are definite issues between owners.

Then there is the assertion that Mike Monroe mentions in his Spurs Nation blog that “owning a professional sports team is more of a hobby than business for many of the owners.”  Mike makes a lot of good points and really hammers home that this is a serious thing and it will get worse for the players before anything happens on the court.  I have to disagree with that statement though.  While there are guys like Paul Allen, Mark Cuban, Micky Arison, Rick DeVos and Charles Dolan, that I’m sure going over the luxury tax by $22 million as the Lakers did, isn’t a massive deal.  But to guys like Leslie Alexander in Houston, if I can believe hoops hype, who are only worth about $80 million.  To guys like Micheal Jordan even, worth an estimated $525 million, who didn’t shell out cash for the team when he bought it from Robert Johnson, he simply took on the debt the Bobcats (under Johnson) had accumulated; this whole deal is a massive deal.

Then on the players side, we’ve got Derrick Fisher who makes $3.4 million a year speaking for guys who make anywhere from $25 million (Fisher’s teammate, Kobe Bryant) to around $370,000 like Garrett Temple.  Kevin Garnett who has made over $291 million dollars in his NBA career (all guaranteed money by the way), stepped up and said he was willing to stand firm on the commitments and the demands the union wants and not make the $18 million he’s owed next year.  Easy for him to say but what about the ushers and ticket-takers and office employees at all the teams and league offices?

So, it’s haves and have-nots but within each of the sides, not from one side to the other.  The previous CBA gave the players a whole lot, a 57.1% share of the Basketball-Related-Income, which of course the owners determine what the BRI is.  The soft-cap is hardly a cap, with the luxury tax set at $70.307 million last year and 7 teams went over it, the “salary cap” at $56.1 million and all but 5 teams exceeding that, it’s a joke.

I don’t know what the answer is, not sure what the questions are really, but something has to change.  I don’t know how it’s going to work out, worst of all I don’t know when.  I just know, I like watching basketball and thinking about how the team is coming together and actual on the court stuff.  Discussing how to make it work out in a boardroom or god-forbid, courtrooms, just pisses me off.

Read more about the likely-lockout from ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin, Miami Herald’s Ira Winderman (and Charles Barkley, yikes), Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, CBS Sport’s Matt Moore and all the links embedded above, those are the dudes who follow this stuff.  I’ll just sit back, analyze what I think I can wrap my head around and bitch until the lockout ends.