After striking a deal with its players union, which ended a 132-day lockout, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell let out a sigh of relief and said, "It's been a long time coming."
Well, you could say the same thing about the first scheduled meeting between the NBA owners and players union, which is set for Monday, according to ESPN's Chris Sheridan.
Monday will mark the one-month anniversary of the NBA lockout, which began on July 1 after both sides were well apart in their negotiations. Since then, no formal meeting has taken place, leading some to speculate that one wouldn't take place until mid-to-late August. Of course, what's the rush? For the players, game checks won't be missed until November 15; for the owners, the preseason (arena revenue) doesn't begin until October.
The first round of discussions will be led by NBA commissioner David Stern and union director Billy Hunter, but each side will bring their top sluggers. According to media reports, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, players association president Derek Fisher and San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt (head of the owners negotiating committee) are expected to join Stern and Hunter.
Both sides last met on June 30, a day before the lockout began. Let's just put it this way: they weren't seeing eye to eye.
Sheridan writes: "When the sides last met on June 30, the players offered a six-year agreement in which they would cut their take of basketball-related income (BRI) from 57 percent to 54.6 percent -- or $100 million per year over the six years. Owners are seeking a 10-year agreement with a hard salary cap, and their most recent proposal targeted paying the players at least $2 billion in salaries in each of the 10 seasons.
"Players have argued that their cut of BRI would be cut from 57 percent to less than 40 percent under the owners' most recent proposal, while owners have maintained they need fundamental financial changes to an operating system in which they claim 22 of the league's 30 teams lost money last season. The union disputes that contention."
The first formal meeting between the two sides truly is "a long time coming." Unfortunately, the same will probably be said once the sides do come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. And by the looks of it, the NBA lockout promises to be a bit more extended than the NFL's.