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It’s official: Owners tell players there will be a lockout

Jun 30, 2011, 3:52 PM EDT

NBA & NBA Players Association Announce New CBA Getty Images

This is a sad day for the NBA.

We all knew it was coming. Frankly, everyone has been expecting this for a couple of years now, you could see the storm clouds gathering for that long. It doesn’t make it feel any better.

And things are only going to get worse in the short term. Not better.

Owners informed the players during a bargaining session Thursday that they will lockout players starting at midnight ET. Technically the owners still have to have a formal vote of the Labor Relations Committee, and they can’t do it until midnight, but in practice it’s done.

No further bargaining sessions are scheduled. Here is what union director Billy Hunter told Ken Berger of CBSSports:

“I’ve been anticipating this lockout for the last two or three years, and now it’s here.”

Hunter also said that the NBPA — the player’s union — does not plan to file to decertify, as the NFL players union did.

With the lockout in place, expect both sides to start playing a little hardball — the owners may well take back some of the concessions given in recent bargaining sessions. The players also will dig in their heels. The sides will likely move farther apart in an attempt to move the middle (the ultimate spot of a compromise) more in their direction.

At the final bargaining session, the players did not present a new proposal but again tried to sell the owners on savings from their last proposal, which would drop their percentage of “basketball related income” from 57 percent to 54.3 percent. NBA commissioner David Stern scoffed at the idea after the meeting, saying that the five-year deal would have raised the average NBA salary by $2 million per year ending at near $7 million a year. The owners’ proposal has been to essentially keep salaries flat for the next decade — the players would make a little less but would see nothing from increased revenues from the game. Their proposal would drop the BRI number the players get to closer to 40 percent in a decade. The players are not easily giving up that revenue from growth of the game.

The owners have said the system needs to change so smaller market teams can both compete and turn a profit. The players have said part of that is revenue sharing — the richest NBA teams share none of their local television revenue and only a portion (less than half) of their luxury box revenue.

The only question becomes will the sides be able to reach a deal before games are lost. That would mean, roughly, reaching a deal by Oct. 1 (there could be wiggle room there, but they need a month to have an abbreviated free agency and training camps).

That’s a long time away, but these two sides have been talking for two years and a lockout is where we are now. So it feels like a dark day.

  1. savocabol1 - Jun 30, 2011 at 4:00 PM


  2. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 30, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Sorry Kurt, I really love your site and read it everyday, but just like the NFL I wont be paying any attention to Basketball news until this is resolved. Players, owners, everyone involved is responsible 😦. Good luck NBA, hope to see you soon.

  3. fouldwimmerlaik - Jun 30, 2011 at 4:17 PM


    In the long run, this is the best thing for the NBA. The players are not going to give things up until them and their posses are not getting paid. And, I am sorry to say, but the players need to give some stuff up if the small market teams are going to survive. BUT, the owners also need to embrace revenue sharing.

    When everyone is making no money, then they will talk.


  4. ksctychiefs - Jun 30, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    gasp!!….this will be the death of the nba as we know it…..i’m not a big basketball fan( i prefer fb,bb) but do follow it…….but as i have been saying,with the probable permanent longterm change in the country’s economy,i think we will see at least 9-10 closures of pro teams spread acoss all sports/nfl,nba,nhl and mlb teams combined……. add in that 22 of 30 nba teams are losing money and that spells big trouble for the nba….the nfl has the best staying power but if this economy continues i think the nfl will lose at least 2-3 teams as well….the little guy ‘joe’ fan,whom upon all the pro sport leagues are built on,is just going to quit coming to the vastly overpriced party of pro sports….i love sports,but this continued economy is going to torch the pro leagues……

    • ksctychiefs - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:22 PM

      the nba will ‘survive’…….but it won’t weather its storm like the ‘nfl lockout’…… will probably see anywhere from 20 to 25 teams left in the nba,but definitely not the current 30…..

  5. calihawk - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    I was worried that NFL lockout was going to end soon and all the talk radio shows were going to have to talk about sports. Nothing like hearing hours of lockout talk.

  6. philipmiller111 - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Shame on the players. They were offered 50% of revenues and they refused it. The owners were the ones who took all the chances ponying up large amounts of money to invest in teams with some losing their shirts. I wish I could go to my boss and tell him I want some of his companies profits. Another reason why unions are well hated today. Their usefullness is over. We’re getting it done in New Jersey under our new governor.

  7. silk32 - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    This has been in the works for a while now . . . no getting around it. The current NBA business model is broken. Billy Hunter is caught between David Stern and “a hard place” .

  8. mostepicgnar - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Good. The players are overpaid and the game itself is horrible. There should not be any such thing as a guarenteed contract. When you are getting a deal in a trade because you picked up some benchwarmer and his ridiculous contract is expiring, you know the league needs work.

    I won’t miss one single second of the NBA.

  9. wizahdry - Jun 30, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    I must say I tend to give the owners more slack on this one over the nfl. I know there are legitimate financial losses in the NBA. There are definitely teams in the league that are in the red. Also this new trend of all the superstars wanting to play together on big market teams has to be addressed. NBA has teams that couldn’t be profitable with 1 superstar so what happens when all of the small markets don’t have any stars to see and the bigs each have 3-4.

    With that said I don’t think the players will bend too much since the NBA already has a salary cap, an individual salary limit, and a rookie wage scale. NBA players also have more options outside of the league unlike the NFL such as Europe or Asia. I don’t think this one will go as long as the NFL since they have a shorter off-season. Also no one is going to jump out a building if there’s no basketball.

  10. libradad53 - Jun 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    Big Whooop! The NBA did not care about Seattle, so why should we care about the NBA. I hope the whole bloody season is lost. Both sides are greedy

  11. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Jun 30, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    The NBA shutting down has very little effect on my life. Frankly, a couple of years without basketball should help the sport. They should get back to the basic rules that started the sport. Keep players from traveling, maybe try to keep intentional fouls at the end of the game from happening, make the all-star game worth watching again. The list goes on and on with basketball. Football will hurt itself with a lockout. Basketball will grow stronger from it years down the road.

  12. robcypher - Jun 30, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Great, two major American sport leagues are on “lockout”. wtf…I barely watch baseball and don’t really like hockey – wtf is left after that? soccer?

  13. insi10 - Jun 30, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    When my wife was dying of cancer, the one place I could find “surcease of sorrow,” to borrow a phrase from E A Poe, was off playing basketball. When the anxieties of running a small business that is in the red, with employees to pay, gets to be too much, I sneak off to the late-evening game at LA Fitness.

    This is a child’s sport and a pleasure. The notion that mere basketball players — people who get paid to do what I do for a sense of pleasure — should get $7 million on average appalls me. Will the scientist who discovers a cure for any of the many cancers see that sort of money? I doubt it.

    Furthermore, one never sees, in the utterly lazy “news reporting” that sportswriters universally settle for, anything substantive on the financial realities the teams face. With fiscal issues including the ballooning of salaries and the growing amounts of deferred money owed, with cities and states tightening up on all the freebies they used to give sports teams just to locate there, and given that there comes a saturation point after which it costs more to add revenues, I think all our major sports are in deep fiscal trouble, like General Motors and the U.S. government.

    The players should wise up and realize that (a) they have no idea what genius it takes to run the business side of an organization like a major sports team and (b) that they are replaceable. The game was just as exciting in the days when players were not as good.

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