By Josh Rose
The nba lockout is ridiculous. National Basketball Association owners and players have been negotiating for a new collective bargaining agreement which dictates the rules of player contracts, trades, revenue distribution, the nba draft, the salary cap, etc. (well before the old cba expired June 30 of this year). Because the two sides haven’t come to a mutual agreement or buckled under pressure, David Stern, the nba Commissioner, initiated a player lockout which caused the cancelling of the entire nba preseason and four weeks of the regular season.
This is the first nba labour halt since the 1998-99 season when the season was cut from the standard 82 games to 50. Retired hall of famer and former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman believes that the players should fold and give the owners what they want. It’s their turn, he says. Steve Nash said on Twitter, “you know we want to play and you understand the propaganda/misinformation from the owners . . . but we will not be taken advantage of.” Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons said to the Detroit Free Press that he could see the talks going on for another one to two years. But there’s more at stake than the revenue division between the nba and National Basketball Player’s Association.
The owners and players aren’t the only ones to suffer from this unwanted lockout. Coaches, team executives and local businesses have plenty to lose as well. There are no agreements between owners and coaches or office staff so there’s no way to cap their salaries. This may cause the league to punish those teams that overpay coaches like Phil Jackson by refusing to share certain revenues. Arenas are standing to lose $1 billion in ticket revenue, and with Christmas games in uncertainty, arenas have started to book events for December whether the nba gets its act together or not. Arenas on average employ around 1,000 people as janitors, ushers and ticket-takers. For some of those employees, working at the arena is a novelty or hobby, while many others depend on that part-time job as an extra or only source of revenue and can only get the hours when there are events. 700,000 fans went through the us Airways Center doors in Phoenix, Arizona last season alone. With no nba games, local businesses will stand to lose money if people aren’t going to arenas to watch games then they aren’t going out for a post-game beer or dinner, either.
These talks have been going on for over 18 months and the gap between what the owners and players want is slowly getting closer. The nba and National Basketball Player’s Association were able to acquire a federal mediator to help out because that fresh pair of eyes and ears is desperately needed if they want part of a season this year. So while players are waiting for these labour talks to find that elusive agreement to end the lockout, they’re taking off to all parts of the globe looking for that missing pay cheque. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and a few others have set up charity games to play around America while the rest have made deals with clubs based in Europe, China and Australia.
It’s hard to find one’s basketball fix outside the nba. Sure, there are several pro leagues out there and college basketball, but how do you watch the game without actually going to the arena in months other than March? Besides the nba and ncaa, what leagues broadcast games on tv or online? Owners and players need to get their acts together and find mutual ground. While in the end one side might be happier than the other, there is no replacement for the world’s most prestigious basketball league.