Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On This Day, September 20th: NBA Lockout Day 82 & No Start in Sight



1998:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1998-09-20/sports/9809200479_1_salary-cap-player-salaries-nba-players-association

Does this article look familiar? It should considering we're living this same situation. Tim Povtak officially initiates the panic alarm. With baseball and football filling up sports schedules, the NBA isn't exactly a worry to the average person until games are missed. Well, we're reaching October and it's definitely time to worry. The league offices sounded more resigned to a loss of games here, than they are presently. Just insert Russ Granik in place of Adam Silver:

Make other plans for Nov.3. The Orlando Magic's opening night game against the Dallas Mavericks is about to be canceled. It could be the first of many.

The NBA is about to become the No Basketball Association.

Although NBA owners and players don't agree on much these days as they struggle to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement and end this lockout, both sides have come to the same conclusion.
This season will not start on time.

``It's beginning to look pretty bleak right now,'' said Russ Granik, NBA deputy commissioner. ``At this point, it will take a minor miracle for us not to miss some regular-season games. It's hard to be anything but pessimistic.''

Last week, the NBA canceled its rookie orientation program and its annual seminar for officials. By the end of this week, it will announce the mass postponement of team training camps and exhibition games scheduled for next month. Within two weeks, the regular-season schedule officially will begin falling.

Time is getting short. Nothing is getting done.

``I've already instructed players that the NBA season will not start on time,'' said Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association. ``We may end up missing at least the first two months.''

Players have been locked out by the owners since July 1. No new negotiations are scheduled. The two sides are pointing fingers. Teams are putting their ticket-refund plans into motion. And the fans are getting restless.

Still at issue is how to split up $2 billion in annual revenue. No easy solution is in sight.

``I don't want to sound hysterical, but we're looking at a very difficult period ahead for us,'' Granik said. ``I don't know what other choice we have. We know this will hurt us from a fan perspective, but we just can't make a deal that is financially irresponsible.''

Although six weeks remain before the season is scheduled to start, both sides concede it will take a minimum of four weeks from the time a new deal is signed until the season could open.

There are almost 200 free agents waiting for contracts. There are trades to be made and rosters to be filled. Even if that business is crammed into two weeks, it would be another two weeks of training camp and exhibitions before an NBA season could begin.

The pessimism from both sides stems from the unwillingness of either side to bend much on the most critical issue: The salary cap.

The owners want a hard salary cap - a set amount of money each team can spend on player salaries - or at least another way to stem the runaway, astronomical rise in player salaries.

The players want to continue with a flexible salary cap that will assure them of remaining the best-paid athletes in team sports, allowing them to benefit greatly from competitive owners as basketball expands throughout the world.

The most puzzling part, though, is that there have been no negotiating sessions since Aug. 6, and none is scheduled.

Although a quick ratification of a new agreement would end the stalemate, both sides are waiting for an arbitrator's ruling on whether the 200 players already with guaranteed contracts must be paid if the lockout goes into this season.

Final briefs from each side were filed with the arbitrator Friday, and he is not expected to rule until at least Oct.6. Hunter said the players have offered to negotiate before then, but the owners won't budge on the salary cap issue. Granik said the owners wanted to meet last Thursday, but the union declined.

The union believes if it wins the arbitration - and players with contracts have to be paid - it will give them a huge edge in negotiating, while weakening the owners. Granik said the union is wrong.

``I think it's a shame if that's what the players have been told. I don't know how any responsible leadership could tell them that,'' Granik said. ``It will just result in more legal proceedings, more problems. The only thing that will resolve this is to make a deal.''

Magic management has declined to discuss the lockout or the negotiations, citing the league's gag order.

Magic players, like those throughout the league, have stuck with the union's position. The lockout, to this point, hasn't changed their summer very much.

``Right now, it's still more of a laid-back type of feeling because nobody is losing money or anything yet,'' said Magic guard Penny Hardaway. ``But as it gets closer, people are going to start getting antsy and wanting to play.''

Players don't get paid until the regular-season games begin. During training camp and the exhibition season, they are paid only their expense money.

``We're going to play basketball again, it's just a matter of when,'' said center Danny Schayes, the Magic's player representative in the union. ``I don't think either side is trying to bury the other, but there's a lot of ground to be made up. As soon as both sides want to get it done, it can be done quickly.''

Very prophetic words from Penny Hardaway and Danny Schayes. There's much more and I suggest you click on the link at the top to read about how badly affected losing and the Lockout have combined forces to drastically lower season ticket renewals. The fans were definitely on the owners' side, there's no debate about that based on the survey done.

Then we go to yesterday's Orlando Sentinel piece that had Magic player representative Chris Duhon and J.J. Redick not instilling much confidence into NBA fans. Some things don't change after 13 years. 


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