Professor Stephen Fullmer
10 November 2011
The NBA Lockout: Players vs. Owners
As the final seconds of game six of the 2011 National Basketball Association (NBA) finals ran off the game clock, so did the final seconds of the entire 2010-2011 NBA season, leaving its fans nothing else but to wonder when the next time would be that they would get to watch their favorite players and favorite teams play the game they love again. Now let’s fast forward about four and a half months. As the late fall sun rises on the day after Halloween and day 124 of the NBA lockout, the 2011 NBA season should have tipped off. Instead fans are still left wondering when or if they will ever see their favorite players and teams ‘lace’ em up’ and get back out on the court. The players as well are now scattered across the map suiting up and playing in games ranging from the Besiktas Jimnastik Kulubu Arena in Akatlar, Turkey to pick up games on the blacktop courts with chain nets in the Brooklyn suburbs, and even flag football games. Everyone is wondering the same thing, when will they get to go back to work and play for their NBA teams again? If history repeats itself like it did during the 1998-1999 season, the last time a lockout occurred, they will have to wait another 3 months or another 94 days. The last lockout continued clear into the middle of January when players and owners finally agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after 202 days. The NBA then gave the then 29 teams in the league some time to get ready for the 1999 season. Sixteen days later after, free agency and training camp, the league played a shortened season of 50 games, as opposed to the usual 82 games, and the All-Star game was cancelled completely. Just because that’s how everything played out for the last lockout doesn’t mean it will end up the same way this time around. In fact, the 1998 lockout was much easier to overcome than the current lockout. This one may very well last up until the 2012 season. So for now, it appears the NBA is headed down a much darker road than the last one. Before the NBA makes a u-turn and starts going back in the direction where they were once a proud league, they will need to get over a few speed bumps. These speed bumps include the following three problems: The battles between hard cap vs. soft cap, where the league wants to limit the amount of money owners can spend, the division of basketball-related income (BRI), in which owners want the money to be split evenly between both sides, and finally the players contract lengths, where owners want to change the number of years and how much money they have to guarantee a player in their contracts. Now obviously if the players union had their way they wouldn’t change a thing with any of this. However, they need to come to a realization and stop being so greedy, because a new deal will give everybody in the league an equal chance of winning and more importantly, every fan an equal amount of hope. The current salary cap that was used in the 2010-2011 season was a soft cap, which allowed each team to spend $58 million on its players. However, they can still get around it by using various exceptions. With a soft cap, owners are allowed to spend over that $58 million limit, however, if they do they’re charged with a luxury tax, which means that with every dollar they spend over the limit they have to pay a $1 tax as well, or double the price. Teams in the big-market areas, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a net worth of $7.6 billion, are able to afford spending well into the luxury tax without being affected because they have enough money from their basketball-related income. As they receive more money from ticket sales and player merchandise than other teams do, they are able to absorb the penalty. Small-market teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, who only have net worth of $1.3 billion, aren’t getting as much money from their...