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Players union: Salaries are not too high

Mar 2, 2010, 9:17 AM EDT

nba_fisher_250.jpgSome try to make it sound complex when you’re talking about the NBA, but simple fact is the labor debate between NBA owners and players is the same as the crux of every labor dispute — management wants to keep salaries down, the workers (players) want to make more.

Along those lines, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher told FanHouse that NBA teams losing money is not simply a function of the percentage of revenue the players get.

“I think the discussion also is about, ‘Are things just related to the economy,”’ Fisher, a Lakers guard, said in an interview with FanHouse. “What other variables go into why teams are losing money? That’s the conversations that we (the union) want to have.

“Let’s discuss all of the reasons why (teams are losing money). Some of it is you have some teams in bad arena (situations) that are in tough markets. You have situations where teams aren’t as competitive where you know that’s going to impact the fan base. You have another batch of teams this year that have dumped guys to clear salary-cap room for the summer, and that’s not something that’s necessarily going to raise fan support or increase season-ticket sales for next year. … We don’t necessarily agree the only fix is impacting players’ salaries.”

“I guess all of our salaries are too high in a relative sense of what hard-working Americans or people around the world and what their income is,” Fisher said. “We’re not insensitive to that reality. At the same time, we feel like this system is as well as systems in the past. … There isn’t any reason why, if a team doesn’t want to pay guys five- or six-year contracts, they don’t have to.”

Look, if your argument is that NBA players make too much money compared to teachers and firefighters, you are right. Nobody is arguing otherwise. We as a society do overpay our top entertainers. Welcome to capitalism. We as a society spend a lot of money on entertainment, and the people that sell the tickets — from Lady Gaga to Kobe Bryant — deserve a healthy cut of what the people putting on the show make. Don’t like that? Move to a socialist country where these things are controlled and regulated.

NBA team owners deserve to make a profit, and the split of basketball related income should be balanced — the last couple years the players have taken 57 percent of that revenue in salaries. But along with that, the owners are asking for things such as shorter contract lengths and other steps to protect themselves from themselves and their own stupidity. If you sign Eric Dampier to a five-year contract where he makes upwards of $10 million a year at the end of it, that’s not the players fault for taking the money. It’s the owners fault — or the fault of his basketball people — for offering a bad deal.

The owners should have protections against economic fluctuations. They should not be able to get protections from their own mistakes.

  1. Amin - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Well put, by you and by Fish. That being said, if some rule does go into effect limiting player salaries, I hope they call it the Dampier Rule.

  2. Mo - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    I like how Darryl Morey put it. He said he would prefer no limits on contracts because it gives the smartest management teams an advantage over the worse ones.
    The Magic Johnson $25 M for 25 years was ginormous back in its day and is against the rules now. But I bet if you ask Jerry Buss if it was worth it, he’d tell you to stop asking stupid questions.

  3. Nick - Mar 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    You are completely missing the point of your own article. You mentioned ‘capitalism’ – that’s exactly the point here. Owners should be able to pay players whatever amount they want, and whatever the ‘market’ sets that amount to be. THATS what real capitalism is.
    The union representing the NBA players try their best to prevent that from happening. In fact, the whole concept of unions is very socialist, it’s just that they’re needed so that owners don’t take advantage of employees in certain situations. But NBA players, who are on average multi-millionaires, arent exactly needing of unions.
    If teams are losing money, and they make a decision to cut employees’ wages – how is that un-capitalist? All (non-unionized) companies do this all the time; in fact, I wouldnt be surprise if NBA teams cut salaries for their own non-player employees.
    You may think that cutting salaries is a bad decision, but to call it uncapitalist displays utter naiveity of what capitalism really is.

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