Don't need to say much other than this: David Stern cancelled all NBA games up to December 1st on October 28, 1998. Stern just did the exact same thing 13 years later. Back then, Michael Jordan had stepped into the ring to challenge the Commissioner. Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade have kind of gotten credit for showing some fight, but it's in no way close to what MJ was doing.
The big difference between the two periods in time is that NBAers wanted to RAISE the BRI from 57% to 63% in '98. Even back then, owners even wanted 48%. Their range now is 47%-50% while the union is resistant to fall under 52%.
NEW YORK - November has yet to arrive, but it's already history in the eyes of the NBA.
All games are canceled. That is the only sure thing today.
Negotiations plodded along Wednesday on a new working agreement between the NBA and its players,
costing the Orlando Magic the easiest month on their schedule - the first 11 games against mostly patsies.
Commissioner David Stern, who engaged in a face-to-face, heated exchange with Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, announced the cancellation of all games until Dec. 1 and an indefinite postponement of the entire season.
Although both sides admit a framework for a new agreement has been established, they continue to bicker over the real substance of the deal.
The players still want more of the burgeoning revenues - estimated at $2 billion last season - than the owners are willing to give.
The players received 57 percent of all basketball revenues in salary and benefits last season. They have asked for 63 percent. The owners gradually want to reduce it to 48 percent over the next five years.
``Right now, we're driving cars,'' said union president and New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing. ``They want us to go back to horses and buggies.''
Bargaining Wednesday took a different twist, with both sides trying to show some solidarity. After Stern talked with all the owners in the morning, he and his eight-member labor relations committee met for 90 minutes with an estimated 100 players who had gathered nearby. The session included some heated exchanges, including one involving Jordan.
Stern's group facing the players included Les Alexander (Houston Rockets), Micky Arison (Miami Heat), David Checketts (Knicks), Jerry Colangelo (Phoenix Suns), Gordon Gund (Cleveland Cavaliers), Peter Holt (San Antonio Spurs), Larry Miller (Utah Jazz), and Abe Pollin (Washington Wizards).
The only Magic player in attendance was Danny Schayes, who is on the union's negotiating team.
``You have to stand up for what is right,'' Jordan said. ``What's right is for them not to come in and lock us out and force us to accept any deal they put on the table. You have to stand up when somebody is trying to take advantage of you. That's what has happened here.''
With November gone from the schedule, each team has lost 11 to 15 games. Stern estimated that players have lost a combined $200 million in salary.
He did hint that the league will re-examine and possibly redo the entire schedule when or if the season does begin.
The NBA already had canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, which was scheduled to begin Nov. 3. In the latest round of cancellations, the Magic lost four home games, against Portland, Washington, Philadelphia and Vancouver. They also lost a game at Philadelphia. Earlier lost games were against Dallas, Miami, Detroit, Toronto (two) and Sacramento.
Season ticket holders will receive a refund for all games missed, plus 6 percent interest.
``The players don't feel any greater pressure now because games were canceled,'' said Billy Hunter, union executive director. ``I'm still convinced that ultimately, a deal will get done. They [owners) are not prepared to put a gun to their heads. NBC and TNT [which televise games) are not going to stand by and let there not be a season. Ray Charles could see that one.''
The two sides had a second negotiating session - with much smaller groups - Wednesday evening, marking the third consecutive day the two sides tried to bargain.
The deal being discussed Wednesday included a loose-fitting salary cap with a luxury tax on the higher-end salaries to discourage spiraling payrolls. The owners want to include an automatic reduction of salaries if they exceed a specified percentage of revenues.
``At this point, I don't know if we are any closer,'' Spurs center David Robinson said. ``There still are some basic differences. There are issues where we just have to draw the line.''