Blame the owners, but the players messed up

The reason we have no basketball right now? It's the owners fault. However, the players messed up by not taking the deal.

Sound contradictory?

The fault in why we're here lies with the owners for these reasons:

They wanted to shift the agreement by too much in order to save a season. This is their prerogative. I do not blame them for doing what they need to do in order to run their business[es]. However, what they "needed" to do was going to cost us a season.

The union agreed to the following:
1: 3 billion in givebacks financially.
2: 1 year knocked off contract length
3: A more punitive luxury tax system
4: Smaller raises
5: A lower value MLE

The owners won a fairly significant concession in every area of the agreement, but they kept wanting more and more and more. Eventually the players drew a line in the sand. They drew it over something ridiculous.

We don't have a season because the owners and players couldn't agree on whether luxury tax teams could use S&Ts or the full MLE. The owners could have relented on this easily. They'd won so much already, but they refused. They refused to give the union even a tiny slice of pride.

They even acknowledged repeatedly that these contracts were barely ever signed and had negligible impact, but they refused to relent. They couldn't give the union a single win.

Instead, they had to give them an ultimatum. Then after giving them an ultimatum they spent an entire weekend trying to paint them as greedy in the press. They bombarded twitter, youtube, chats, and the press with information about how rich their deal would make the players.

Things which were all more or less pointless because the players had agreed on money anyway. They weren't arguing over money. They were arguing over a couple minor system issues. The league will say they needed competitive balance, but does anyone really think those two minor rules would have swung a single championship in the next six years?

We don't have basketball because of that. At some point the owners should have realized enough is enough. We got tremendous givebacks with this agreement. We're going to negotiate a new long term TV deal soon, and when we do we're going to make a truckload of money. There's no reason the owners shouldn't have budged on the last few issues except that they wanted to exercise all of their leverage and stick it to the players.

That all said, while it's the owners fault for the negative publicity, the ultimatum, and the refusal to budge, it's the players who will suffer more and ultimately end up the worse off party of the two.

The owners will lower their offer, and if history is any guide, the players will eventually break and take it. When that happens, they'll have lost 2 billion dollars and take a considerably worse offer than the one presently on the table.

They took the NBA's bait. They rallied together in an "us against the world" mentality after the NBA's negative media blitz. Instead of swallowing their pride and taking a deal which is the best they'll see, they decided to fight back. A fight which they'll almost certainly lose.

We'll end up in court now. There will be law suits back and forth.

The players have filed a disinterest in the union to break it up and declared the lockout illegal. They now say that teams should hire them independent of any CBA and get the season rolling.

The league has threatened to cancel all contracts, the players say "go ahead". This is going to be a huge mess.

We'll have to wait and see what happens with each side now. Will the players go the NFL route and try to negotiate as a union while trying to say they're not a union? If so, they'll almost certainly lose.

Their play will likely be to continue to act as a trade association and demand the NBA opens the season without CBA rules to see what happens. The NBA could do so and then institute whatever rules it wants unilaterally, however if they instituted any rule that violates anti-trust law they'd get their asses kicked in court three years down the road [ie, salary cap, draft, max salary, etc.. ].

As such, the NBA will likely refuse to open up the season because they can't really do so without a CBA and have anything remotely fair while implementing any rules would destroy them in an anti-trust suit. Instead they'll call the union's decision to file disinterest a sham. It will be interesting to see if it is a sham or not. I think the players actually would prefer to play without a union, or at least they think they would.

I know the agents would prefer this as it'd make them getting money vastly easier, so they are likely steered in that direction. High priced lawyers charging insane rates probably aren't opposed to four years of law suits either.

We're entering murky waters here either way. The best solution for both sides is for one side to immediately relent on the minor issues that brought them here in the first place. A position which seems highly unlikely but would still be best for both parties.

Either way, yesterday was a highly predictable but sad day for the NBA. Hopefully these guys get it together soon.


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  • Reasons why I(a good part of me) won't miss an NBA season:

    1) Up until the mid 90's the players made $1 or 2 Mil per season and downward. Guys were still real people uncorrupted by just crazy, filthy money. Let's face it for most of us average Joes wouldn't it be hard not to be corrupted too? Ironically, the guy that swelled the league's TV ratings/attendance/eventually player salaries, Michael Jordan, is the same guy now saying give the players 47% or less i.e cut their balls off. Life is stranger then any movie(unless you like to watch bone/horror flicks).

    2) Players once upon a time often went to school more for three or four years. No many of them were not ready to be scholars or professionals, but they did develop themselves as people/adults nonetheless and that in and of itself is an education of sorts. And many, many more kids who grew up to be players grew up with two parent families and not in the projects. In the end I feel sorry for punkish acting guys like Wade, James. Paul etc. who grew up with mostly lousy parents who dissapeared or did more harm then good. The culture of hip hop, f-ck white authority, live a tragic/victim life of souless partying and usery of women like whores is a sad generational /era/time to live in(sadly white business and government did much to assure this reputation/legacy). And sure Michael and Scottie cheated and got drunk in their time, but I still maintain before the fame and money got to their heads and essentially ruined them, they still came from much more centered/positive backgrounds.

    3) And finally with the massive conglomeration of sports to replace our own impersonal/detatched family lives has made it strictly a business. News and sports are all in bed together. Seats cost too much for most working class people which was not always true. Even balooning costs of cable/broadband too watch the Bulls/NBA games is more then many people(with kids especially) can afford. Maybe as our favorite sport disintegrates who we really out to be pissed at is ourselves for electing the same corrupt politicians year after year or simply not voting at all. Big money has corrupted big business, big government, big media< see big business, and in the end ourselves. I think I'll just watch college b-ball, and hope at least some of the "stars" still get enough mentoring/maturity/discipline to become solid adults with decent lives.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I think everyone should know by now (i guess it was obvious from the beginning) that Michael Jordan doesn't really stand for anything other than his wallet. I guess the fact that he is one of the most selfish people ever, coupled with a pathological competitive syndrome, is what makes him succesful. It's a pity that these types of values are so much admired in today's world.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I'd be willing to bet you were not old enough to watch Michael Jordan from the beginning. Selfishness doesn't win championships, and selfishness doesn't gain the adoration of Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, and Pippen. Sure he was at times a ruthlessly competitive prick. That doesn't mean he was an a-hole to his teammates off the court. He ran kids camps where he showed up every day, and played with his son and other kids. Wade and LeBron grew up in so much more of a dysfucntional world with horrible role models/parents and lack thereof. The writing off Jordan card has become so popular, but you won't hear he was a dick from any of his teammates or his championships which bespeak of evrything, but selfishness. On the contrary he's loved by his teammates, and his father's murder probably has as much to do with his bitternes as does his having to descend from the mountain banished by father time. And the beatdown he absorbed while Stern watched from Rodman and the Pistons was criminal as it was to Pippen.

  • What do you call a butt load of lawyers driving off a cliff?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    -A good start. And I think it's busload.
    -Yeah, a bunch of rich lawyers took the bus. Where did you find this guy?

  • I mentioned elsewhere that a reason the NFL union settled when it did was that the court ruled, antitrust or no antitrust, the Norris LaGuardia Act prevented enjoining a lockout. So, the NBA players aren't going to bring the owners back to the bargaining table that way.

    Your idea that the owners will bring them all back as independent contractors is interesting, but I am sure not on the terms that the top players and their agents want.

    The only other thing that seems obvious to me, and maybe to you but not anyone else, is that Stern proved that the days of "the commissioner is there for the best interests of the game and does not represent the owners," if they ever existed, no longer do.

  • In reply to jack:

    In terms of the Norris LaGuardia act, one of the problems was that the players decertified immediately when the CBA ended without attempting to bargain a new one. This was specifically noted by the court. The NBA players attempted to negotiate hard for a long time and ended that negotiation when they couldn't agree to the NBA's ultimatum. As such, the NBA's case will be somewhat different than the NFL's case. I'm not saying they'll win, but there are different circumstances at play.

    Well the players are effectively suing the NBA to force them to bring them on as independent contractors now. If the NBA does and implements any cap rules, draft, or any other such thing, then the players would kick their ass with anti-trust litigation.

    You are completely correct about Stern there. I think at one point the players and owners needed each other more and were more on the same side because they were trying to create success where it didn't really exist yet. Those days are over.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    This isn't quite right. Norris-LaGuardia prohibits federal courts from issuing injunctions in a labor dispute. The decision in the NFL case really didn't address the "sham" issue. They simply said it's a labor dispute, so no injunction to lift the lockout.

    The NBA player's attorneys have said they're not even trying for an injunction to lift the lockout. They're going straight for monetary damages.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    There's a difference there in that the NFL had no monetary damages to go after.

  • I don't think Stern's the bad guy though he is a logical target of our frustrations. If the owners came to him and said we'll give the players 57% this time and keep everything else the same he would've done it in a heartbeat.

    Even though he's smarmy and acts the part of a hard line owner, I'm guessing he's wants a deal to get done as badly as the fans but his hands are tied. THere's no question he's a master of public relations with his interview tour over the weekend and yesterday.

  • The players are ridiculous. They're making multiple millions of dollars a year for playing a game most of us play for fun in our spare time. They are greedy pigs, and should consider themselves lucky if they made $60,000 a year, or the same as a firefighter does who risks his life every day.

    If the owners are losing money, then it should be a no-brainer for them to cut back player salaries so they can continue operating their business. If Best Buy was losing money every year, and their employees were all making 6 figures, of course they'd cut back their salaries to put the company in the green, and the employees would either have to accept that or they'd find new ones who would. They wouldn't take them to court.

    There's thousands of college basketball players who go undrafted every year, I'm sure they would love to play in the NBA for a fraction of what players are bitching they're making now. I say all the players who want to decertify, let them, and let them go play oversees or wherever the hell they want, and let the players who will play for what the owners pay them come on down.

  • In reply to goldfinger0014:

    First time poster, David Stern's Mom? Pay 60 grand a year and you'll find everyone will be playing in Europe. Or China. As a matter of fact, players get paid more here in Australia. On second thought, I would like to go to my local stadium and watch D.Rose score 300 points. Yeah do that.

  • In reply to goldfinger0014:

    Two problems with your view:
    1: The sides agreed on money, and the players gave the owners back 3 billion dollars in this agreement. It doesn't appear to be about greed at all, but that's a common rallying cry for people who want to support owners even though it is not supported by what actually happened. They failed to agree due to working conditions really.

    2: The NBA can't invite in scabs or start the league without ending the lockout. IF they could, as a season ticket holder I would be absolutely furious if they tried to make me pay to watch scabs, and the league would turn to absolute crap and go under if it could no longer field the best product.

  • The players fell right into the owners trap.

  • No matter what you think of the owners and their strategy, the players are nothing more than a bunch of moronic jackasses, who put their fake machismo ahead of their own best interests.

    Once you agreed to the 50/50 split, the system issues only affect how the $2 Billion per year is split up among the individual players, they don't change the total amount of money the players get. The average player salary is the same no matter what.

    Once you agree on money, the players and owners ought to be close to being on the same page. If everybody wants to win and get paid, more competition among all the leagues teams is better for the vast majority of the players than a handfull of super teams and 25 after thoughts.

    I am mostly pissed that the union never let the rank and file vote on the final offer. That would have been interesting to see, I bet it would have passed because most of these guys just want to play and cannot afford to miss an entire season.

    If you ask me this was all about the superstars and their agents wanting to get all the money the could for themselves. Which still doesn't make much sense in a world with defined max contracts.

    I really cannot think of one rational reason for the players not to have accepted the final offer on the table.

    Which is why now more than ever, I will always be a fan of the name on the front of the jersey and not the one on the back of the jersey.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'd be far more sympathetic to the owners plight for system changes if the system they proposed even remotely created parity or competitive balance.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That seems to be the core of the disagreement, as it was explained by some commentator that the stuff about the hard cap was essentially to keep Wade from doing what he arranged for Miami last year. The commentators seemed to indicate that the 50/50 or whatever split wasn't the big hangup.

  • In reply to jack:

    But the changes they asked for wouldn't have prevented the Wade/LeBron/Bosh thing.

    If they actually had hardlined on creating a better system, I would be more sympathetic in their desire to do so.

  • my friend made a song about the NBA LOCKOUT Check it out. Plese share it if you like it.

  • The basic issue is the stupidity of these players. They are neither big businessmen(because even though they might be smart, most of them are not greatly educated and their primary skill is playing basketball) to justify fighting for this as a business need and neither are they fighting for a cause like Martin Luther King to justify fighting for a moral cause.

  • Sorry Doug, but I disagree. It is the owners who messed up. They had massive givebacks by the players. All they needed to do was conceed a little bit towards the end of negotiations and the players would be voting on a proposal.

    The players did the right thing by filing lawsuits. I predict the players prevail in this legal dispute. The NBA will immediately file motions to change venue from California and Minnesota to New York. I believe the NBA will lose those change of venue motions.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I predict that no one prevails in a legal dispute because both sides will lose more money than they can make up with a judgment by letting enough time go by for the courts to declare a winner.

    In that sense, I still predict they come to some agreement prior to a true ruling though a preliminary ruling may change the momentum of the final pieces of a deal.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    This dispute and the lawsuits are not about BRI percentages. The owners are attempting to effectively end free agency as it’s been known since the Oscar Robertson lawsuit. If the players had agreed to the NBA’s proposal the owners would have gotten away with these sweeping changes to free agency. Now, they will not.

    Yes, the vast majority of lawsuits end in settlement not final judgment – but that doesn’t mean no one prevails. Whatever agreement is reached will not be nearly as draconian as what the NBA proposed last week. The NBA’s actions over the last few months actually strengthened the players’ case – and the players called the owners’ bluff. I don’t believe the owners thought that would happen and so swiftly.

    The players are not measuring this dispute solely in dollars and cents. They are actually concerned about future players in coming generations, and about what kind of legacy they will pass to coming generations. So I disagree with your metric of measuring this dispute solely in lost dollars from this season and whether they can be recouped. This dispute is about power and control as much as it is about money.

  • In reply to Edward:

    To be clear, I wouldn't measure things entirely in dollars lost.

    I also view it highly likely that the players accept a worse system after this is all settled than the offer put in now. I also don't think the changes to this system would have had that large an impact on free agency in reality.

    I would radically change free agency to make it more appealing to both owners and players. As I've noted many times, remove present soft cap, put in one hard cap at the luxury tax, remove the the max contract, and now you have something. All the teams presently at 58-65 million who have no cap room could bid legit amounts for players who would no longer be stuck at some portion of the MLE or trying to work out a S&T to use an exception.

    The true things holding things back the most in terms of true freedom for players and competitive balance for owners would be resolved at once.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Your suggestion is an interesting one, Doug.
    It’s unfortunate, we fans don’t have the ability to make settlement suggestions to either side – and I don’t think they will be consulting us anytime soon. So we have no opportunity to craft our own solutions, we can only comment on and observe the process from the sidelines.

    For the record, in my opinion, I don’t think the players end up accepting a worse offer than what the NBA made last week. I think the owners were in the driver’s seat, had massive givebacks on the table, but overplayed their hand. Now the pendulum is swinging the opposite direction.

    I also believe the owners’ actions during these months have actually helped the players’ case. But first, it will be interesting to see how the Southern District of New York rules on the NBA’s early pre-emptive lawsuit.

  • While I might agree with you in theory, you ignor the one thing that ruins all human endeavor that involves more than one human being at a time, human nature, essentially individual greed.

    The owners will never accept a deal with no max contract rules, and rookie wage scales. They tried that before in every sport and eventually they just couldn't help themselves from paying every pimple faced teenager $100's of millions of dollars and shortly thereafter bankrupting most franchises and their ability to compete.

    The players will never accept a true hard cap, even though as you have pointed out, in a guaranteed BRI split world there already is a hard cap, just not a team by team one, Because it stops the rich teams from driving up prices for individual players, and the players believe( right or wrongly) that is the key to driving up all player contracts.

    Too bad that they cannot submit the entire dispute to some kind of super committe of experts(no players, no owners, no lawyers or agents), who come up with a deal that makes rational economic sense for both sides concerns, and then put the deal to a straight up and down vote of both sides, no changes allowed.

    I bet we would have games right now if they tried that.

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