Today was a huge day with the lockout, and after hearing both sides speak about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 2011-12 season is in jeopardy.
The league has canceled the remaining exhibition games and unless a 23rd hour deal is reached over the weekend, the first two weeks of the season will be canceled on Monday. It’s estimated owners will lose $200 million from the exhibition games.
NBA commissioner David Stern presented a picture that would seem like the players would come out pretty good–seemingly. Stern said the NBA backed off the hard salary cap and taking away guaranteed contracts, but the big split was on the Basketball-Related Income, otherwise known as BRI.
He let it seemingly slip that he made a last-second informal offer to split revenue down the middle, at 50-50.
Not to bore you with financial details, but the BRI is the big pot everyone eats from, and is equated to $4 billion each year. It includes tickets to parking to broadcast rights to concessions, though revenue-sharing payments and expansion fees.
The owners had been steadfast in regaining a majority of the BRI, which under the last CBA, they only held 43 percent of. The players held 57, but each player had eight percent of their salary withheld in escrow until after the season, when all revenue is added by the league.
In the last negotiations, according to reports, the players offered 53% percent, a giveback of $200 million per season. They felt it more than made up for the owners’ claims of having lost $300 million last season.
Stern insists contract rollbacks weren’t included in negotiations, but with the escrow in place, that’s not entirely accurate.
If a certain amount is withheld, likely more than the current 8%, until the revenues are added up, then a $4 million salary won’t be that because the owners have to receive their percentage of the BRI.
No meetings have been scheduled, with both sides percentage points away after initially being $8 billion away at the beginning of negotiations. Both sides preached doom and gloom afterwards, and after both sides being so forthcoming with details, after there was such a shroud of secrecy surrounding previous meetings, something could be amiss.
Could union chief Billy Hunter and Stern be playing a game of chicken publicly? Hunter, after openly being against decertification, said its an option after Tuesday’s meetings. Most believe Hunter has been against that tactic because he would lose his job in the process.
Stern letting the 50-50 bomb drop in the middle of his presser could be a tactic to break the rank-and-file members of the union, who have greatly benefited from the last CBA. Keep in mind, Stern never lets information just “slip out”. He’s smart, calculating and loves controlling the public narrative and to the naked eye, 50-50 would sound fair.
The 50-50 split has been disputed by national reports, citing union sources, for what its worth. They believe it was in bad taste for Stern to reveal something that wasn’t officially 50-50, nor was it an official offer. Most believe it lies more into the 49-51 range, with each percentage point representing $40 million/season.
I’ve long maintained the split would or should be 52/48, with mechanisms coming on both ends to raise or lower that number. The question remains who will blink first–and when. Hunter and Stern have made promises to their respective constituents and must appear to be uncompromising about certain principles.
This appears to be a high-stakes game of saving face.
Either way, we’re all left to wonder what this really means for the near future, if we’ll have basketball in the near future or if quietly, we’re moving closer toward the finish line. At this point, I’m not sure either side knows.