As We Wait, Some Lockout Reading

Darius Soriano —  November 10, 2011

The players and owners are meeting again today, on the heels of yesterday’s marathon session, still looking for that elusive deal that both sides can live with. The issues remain the same – owners want more money, players want more freedom to negotiate market contracts with every team – and neither side wants to budge as they see the issues at hand tantamount to a successful league. So, while we wait for news, I offer up a few good articles (and one twitter update) to pass the time. Looking like a long wait, how u?

Ken Berger, of CBS Sports, had a talk with Bill Russell and some very good points were raised. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but this excerpt was one that resonated:

“I think the whole deal is not about black and white. It’s about money, OK? I don’t see any signs of being greedy. It’s a typical negotiation and that’s all it is. And there are a couple of reasons it’s difficult, because there’s hard-liners on both sides. But to me, the name-calling or vilifying the other side is a non-issue,” Russell said. “All that is is a distraction — a distraction from the task at hand, which is reaching an agreement that neither side will probably be completely happy with. But that’s the art of compromise.” Russell said both sides “have their points,” but he views the key stumbling blocks as owners as trying to “protect themselves from the owners” and a battle between “the small-market teams and the big-market teams. The players want their fair share of the business and the small-market owners don’t want to keep losing money,” Russell said.

Speaking of old legends, Michael Jordan’s hardline stance is examined by Henry Abbott as he wonders if his airness’ words should carry much weight:

How much sway can he possibly have? Any case he makes players and owners alike can laugh off, knowing that history says he’ll take whatever position is convenient. His credibility, in other words, is shot. The opposite of shifting positions as convenient is standing for something. That’s not what Jordan has ever been best known for — going all the way back to the days of “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” At Harvard, they have done extensive research into negotiations. Crudely summarized, they have found that the winning approach is not for each side to simply advocate for what it wants. The winning approach is for the two sides to search for principles both can agree on — universal truths within the room. Instead of saying the mid-level must be smaller, in other words, you say that it would be good to control the spending of the biggest teams, and the two sides can explore, together, ways to honor that goal. It’s very hard to imagine that Jordan could play any role like that, however. He is a odd champion of timeless truths.

Meanwhile, over at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe is talking about how long the season could (and should) be after an agreement is made. His conclusion is pretty simple: extra games in a shortened period will equal lower quality basketball:

Tack on an extra eight games to maximize revenue, and teams are playing 17 games per month on average instead of the normal 15. That might not sound like much, but it will necessitate one or two back-to-back-to-back stretches and result in less rest, less practice time and more tired legs — even if the league manages to reduce coast-to-coast travel, as it did in 1999. Teams played 17 games per month in that season instead of the normal 15, and scoring efficiency, pace and shooting percentages plummeted to their lowest point in modern league history. It was ugly. Players hate it, trainers hate it, coaches hate it and the quality of play will suffer — especially as it comes atop a frenzied free-agent period and reduced training camp. And while it’s tempting to suggest the older teams will struggle the most, the best evidence we have about back-to-backs and the dreaded back-to-back-to-backs suggests things are a little more unpredictable than that. What isn’t unpredictable: The games are worse overall, and defense appears to suffer badly as players tire.

Finally, friend of FB&G, J.D. Hastings tweeted a great thought about why he’s struggling with the position of small market hardline owners. It’s worth sharing:

I’m for measures that help the league as a whole but if you start harming the league to prop up a market that’s not viable, then you’ve gone too far. Where’s that line? I don’t know, but right now today we’re in a position where hard liners for small markets are acting in a way that could lose the season to support themselves over measures that have never been shown to be effective at increasing competition.

Darius Soriano

Posts Twitter Facebook

to As We Wait, Some Lockout Reading

  1. The owners will see that what they did this year will only shift even more power and leverage to the players of the next generation.

    Agents and players will see what the owners really are made of and will be very busy making sure that they control damage better the next time around.

    By doing what? I don’t know, but if I had any input, I’d probably start by consciously creating more interest in basketball world-wide. Touring Europe and China more aggressively during the off-season, staging friendly games with overseas teams/all-stars, anything that make overseas teams more organized and lucrative so that they can offer NBA worthy money if opportunity presents themselves.

    Also by organizing summer leagues and other player run charity leagues that can be used to maintain visibility and positive image in case of another lockout.

    And of course a much more responsible spending plan so they can easily withstand a lost season if necessary.

    They did better this time around by not being too reliant on their salaries, but should have realized that much more than money is needed when ‘negotiating’ with the owners.


  2. Thanks Darius. I’m just hoping we have a season for fantasy basketball sake. I got a “Miss you” card from Yahoo! Sports the other day.


  3. Harold,
    I agree the owners have really screwed themselves over. However… I think they saw the writing on the wall. I think they saw that within twenty years there will be another league that can compete with them and take away the talent. That means they would no longer be able to put in salary caps etc to artificially lower players earning power. They felt they needed to really make money the next ten years as they feel it’s their last chance.


  4. Mad respect for Mr. Russell’s game and his commitment to its health after his retirement but I think this is some false equivalence. I don’t hear the players pulling for 60/40 or 58/42. I don’t hear any greed from the players with regard to the BRI. They have done nothing but give. False equivalence, suggesting that both sides are equally greedy in trying to get a CBA.

    Comparably in this case, Mr. Russell says there are hardliners on both sides. If anything the players have given ground to the owners even before negotiations started. Again, mad respect to Mr. Russell and I’m not against him, just pointing out that this seems to be a classic case of false equivalence.


  5. @4.

    That’s Bill Russel…typical diplomat, looking to both sides…everybody is right, everybody is wrong…flip-flop…bla bla bla..

    He got 11 rings like that.


  6. Ha well those two days of intense negotiating made a difference. Looks like the only difference between last week and this week is a lot less rhetoric from Fisher/Hunter. They seem almost beaten. Seems like they feel this really is the best deal they’re going to get, and they probably will present it to the players to decide on.


  7. The owners locked out the players and demanded certain terms long ago. That’s unfortunately still their stance.

    That ultimatum has never seemed attractive to most of us in Lakerland.

    To their credit, the players have methodologically looked for common ground between present demands and previous agreement–looking in vain for a palatable compromise.

    Bottom line? Even the weenies have become pessimistic.


  8. As long as small market hawks are controling the agenda, there won`t be a deal,because decertification will be the next step. While most players would probably accept, I think the stars and their agents can put enough legal roadblocks in the process to keep it from being it approved in its current form.


  9. For some reason, I just don’t see the players having the resolve to decertify. Sign the petition? Sure, I think they’ll put it into motion. BUt if, at the end of the 45 day waiting period, the labor board approves the petition and the owners still have not moved, I can’t see over 50% of players voting to decertify. I think this happened before (some time in the 90s, possibly the last lockout) where the petition was approved but when it came time to vote on actual decertification, players got cold feet and backed off.

    Hope it does happen though. I feel like giving Paul Allen, Robert Sarver, and Dan Gilbert two middle fingers if I ever see them. Still surprised Jerry Buss finally didn’t slam his hand down and tell them to quit their revenue-sharing b*tching and moaning and learn how to run their teams properly.


  10. I wish Michael Jordan would say the same thing he did during the last lockout… “If you feel you can’t make money sell the team!” Oh wait…


  11. No matter what Laker fans think about the current state of Derek Fisher’s on-court game, we all have to acknowledge that he’s still going to be playing a significant role once (if) the games get going (at least as the roster is currently constructed).

    I’m sure he’s staying in shape the best he can…but you’d have to think all this time in a suit and conference rooms can’t be good for his basketball. I mean, the guy has got to be exhausted.


  12. This prolonged delay is a battle of attrition, in my opinion not necessarily between owners and players, but against the wishes of fans. The farther this lockout is drag on, the greater they all become forgettable. Hey, when Rams and Raiders left LA for greener pasture, they thought they’re that indispensable. Well, after 16 years football fans here have adjusted. It is the NFL who needs the Los Angeles market. In retrospect it’s same with NBA. It is the league who needs the fans’ interest and without this patronage there will be no salaries or profits to discuss. It could also spill to when there will be nobody treated as superstars, mega owners, small markets, cable deals, court boxes and so forth, it will be back to square one of plain basketball. It is fans’ deal of play or no pay.


  13. Like Snoopy2006 above, I’ve wondered why we haven’t heard more from the big-market/deep pocket owners. I mean, what exactly are Jerry Buss and Mark Cuban getting out of this strike?

    Presumably David Stern has his commissars and his finebook ready (another mechanism I don’t really understand; why do owners put up with him?). But there have to be some of them that think like Jordan used to: “If you can’t make money on a team in Charlotte or Sacramento, why do we need a teams there? I could make money selling tickets to LA-BOS and NY-MIA every night.”


  14. I Just read in the LA Times about a “disclaimer of interest” that could be filed by the players and would bypass the NLRB. Does anyone know about this claim.and how it would impact the current negotiations?


  15. Well.. just have to agree with everyone here. It is what it is at this point… I’m not even going to hazard a guess of what happens when the final “revised” proposal goes to all the player reps. In the grand tradition of all labor/ownership battles, this one has been a long, destructive grind, aimed at and succeeding at, weakening workers.

    One other thing – J.D. – I know visual art is your first love but man, I always appreciate your written word.


  16. I’ve done some reading, and I’m wrong about the Weenies. The Weenies mostly think the players will/must accept the owners ultimatum.

    If my job were on the line, I might be a Weenie too.

    As a fan, all I know is that the NBA has already been damaged, and either player decision, accepting or resisting, will be bad for the game.