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NBA labor talks break off, no talks scheduled. It’s that bad.

Oct 20, 2011, 8:08 PM EDT

Padlock Arena AP AP

Folks, we may not be seeing basketball for a long, long while. NBA fans should be wearing black on Friday in mourning.

Saying he was “saddened on behalf of the game” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that talks had broken off between the NBA owners and its players association. No new talks are scheduled, with Spurs owner Peter Holt saying both sides could use a breather. (David Stern was not at the meeting due to having the flu.)

This came after about 30 hours of negotiations over three days led by federal mediator George Cohen. Silver said that Cohen and the mediation team wanted to keep going but both the owners and players saw too big a gap and wanted to call it quits. The players denied this, saying they wanted to stay at the table. So to be clear, the two sides can’t even agree on how the meeting ended. Cohen basically threw up his hands in disgust. It’s that bad.

No new cancellation of NBA games has been announced, but you can get that is coming in the next few days. Already the first two weeks of the season (through Nov. 14) have been cancelled and games beyond Thanksgiving are likely on the block. NBA union president Derek Fisher talked about that in his remarks after the meetings.

“This is not in any way about ego,” he said. “There are a lot of people’s livelihoods at stake separate from us.”

The issue — as it has been since the start — is money.

Specifically, the split of revenue, called basketball related income (or BRI). That is money the league and its teams take in from ticket sales, national television contracts, part of local television contracts, part of luxury box revenues, even part of the beer you buy at the games. It came to nearly $4 billion dollars last season.

The players, who got 57 percent of BRI under the old labor deal, came down to 52.5 percent, according to Silver. However, the owners didn’t want to go higher than a 50/50 split, he said.

“What Peter (Holt) and our other owners made clear to the players is that is as far as we would go,” Silver said.

“We think that’s a fair split,” Holt added.

Players union officials said after the meeting they were stunned by the owners “take it or leave it” position, thinking this was a negotiation. Fisher said that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the players need to “trust him.” (Good luck with that one.)

Union leaders said clearly something happened at the Board of Governor’s meeting (all the owners) that took place earlier in the day and the league negotiators came in with a hard-line stance. The union’s feeling is that it is the one giving up real dollars — from 57 percent down to 52.5 percent would be about $180 million next season — while the owners keep taking and not really talking.

The two sides had discussed “bands” where, for example, the players could get between 49 and 51 percent of BRI depending on how much came in. However, while their bands were close they never overlapped and neither side was willing to budge.

Right now, there seems to be little trust and a lot of animosity between the two sides. It’s ugly, really ugly. The owners want the players to feel the hurt of no paychecks, the players want the owners to feel the hurt of no revenue and angry fan bases. What both sides seem not to realize is that the fans are angry with both of them and the longer the game is shuttered the longer it will be before fans come back.

This is going to kill any momentum the league has built and if the two sides take much of a break David Stern’s gut feeling that Christmas Day games could be threatened could become a reality.

This is a dark, dark day for NBA fans.

  1. ogre2010 - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    They will be sadly missed…..when does The Avengers come out again?

  2. 1historian - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM






  3. ispysomething7 - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Kurt, your more than presumptuous spin the last few days was comical. You will surely be a depressed man indeed. Look on the bright side, when they come back in 2 years, the game will be better and more competitive. In the meantime, enjoy college basketball. Maybe Florio and NBC can start a NCAA Basketball page.

    • trbowman - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:49 PM

      They’ve already got one

  4. ispysomething7 - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    @ 1historian – best comment on here!

  5. 8man - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    I didn’t give a rat’s ass when the NFL talks broke down and the season was in doubt.

    So am I going to care about this? No!

  6. trbowman - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Oh I barely noticed, I was too busy watching NFL, college football and hockey.

    I laugh at the NBA.

    • leearmon - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:00 PM


      Says the guy on “” And if you’re “too busy watching hockey” you are about the only one watching.

      • trbowman - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:49 PM

        lol taking a shot at hockey, how original

  7. phxsunsnyc - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    Players only have Lebron to blame. Fans are sick of these guys making millions of dollars whenever and whereever they want. We pay them; we deserve to have some say on who they play for. I hope the owners stay strong; I want a competitive NBA. I am sick of players saying the league is competitive; I am sick of making the playoffs each year knowing we don’t have a chance at a ring. Hold strong owners; I am willing to wait it out with you.

  8. loza6984 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    It’s unfortunate we really don’t know the real story (from either side). All I know is the NBA will sustain major damage the more this lock out drags on. Neither side will ever “get it” as long as fans keep paying the ridiculously high prices for tickets and everything else sold inside these NBA venues. The “new normal” global economy can’t sustain the current NBA model.

  9. bjtmeyer - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Wow this all over a 2.5% difference? Give me a break players union! I don’t you will be hurting that bad at 50%.

    • bjtmeyer - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:29 PM

      don’t think*

    • skids003 - Oct 21, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      They need that money to pay their posses off. We the normal people don’t understand that.

  10. jollyjoker2 - Oct 21, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    2.5 percent is a lot on 4 billion in revenue. Wait, lets get congress to bail them out with some of those dollars used for shovel ready jobs. Its peanuts over 10 years and puts all those people back to work!

  11. denverdude7 - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:00 AM

    This just couldn’t get any better. Both the owners and the players are acting like children. The players are organizing barnstorming tours and the owners are playing hardball.

    The best part is the end result. No Bron-Bron for the forseeable future.

    Bron-Bron must be starting to feel a little financial pressure. Has anyone seen his new Energy Sheet commercial? I couldn’t stop laughing !!! What a tool !!!

  12. iknowzeroaboutsports - Oct 21, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Miami and LA, the two NBA cities that have the best winter weather and a whole bunch of models. So, where do you think the majority of players want to go? Are most NBA players like LeBron or Garnett? If you want the best talent to control the league and want to see Heat-Lakers every year in the finals, then support the NBPA. If you want all teams to have a fair shot at talent, support the owners.

  13. twitter:Chapman_Jamie - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    What is unfair about a 50/50 split? NBA players seem to have the most blame and greed.

    • borderline1988 - Oct 23, 2011 at 8:33 AM

      I do back the owners in this debate.
      That being said, remember that there are more than 10 times as many players as their are owners, so equality (to argue for a 50/50 split) doesn’t really hold water.

      Fact is, the owners should decide how much revenue they get. If the players somehow deserve a percentage of all the merchandise the owners sell, then the owners should get a percentage of advertising income that many NBA players get. Kobe Bryant probably gets paid more in endorsement income than salary. Shouldn’t Buss get a piece of that action?

  14. fouldwimmerlaik - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    “NBA labor talks break off, no talks scheduled. It’s that bad.”

    No, that is GOOD!

    Cancel the season and let the arrogant players lose a little arrogance.

  15. jbraxton3rd - Oct 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    50-50 sounds fair to me. Why should the workers make more than the people in charge who pay their salary?

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      Yeah, why should those that do the real work make more than those that sit on their butts pushing pencils across paper all day? Useful idiot!

  16. steevo2907 - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Don’t care. I live in Seattle where an NBA team with 40 years of history was “stolen” so Stern’s friend in OKC could have team. Well, we in the NW blame David Schultz for selling to someone out of state, but Clay Bennett’s intent was to relocate from the beginning.

    Watching this league crumble is quite enjoyable. Sure, it will eventually right the ship, but watching all the infighting couldn’t be sweeter.

    • iknowzeroaboutsports - Oct 21, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      If there were a salary cap and better economics for the teams the Supersonics would still be in Seattle.

  17. geo59 - Oct 21, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    It is a sad day when Americans are so brainwashed through political manipulation, racism and misinformation that they side with greedy billionaire modern-day plantation owners and side against unions, workers and talented, courageous American athletes. NBAPA, form your own league and send the old-boy owners into oblivion, where they belong. Incorporate, have an IPO and create the Player Owned International Basketball Association. You don’t need the owners. They don’t control the means of production, you do. This is an important opportunity to strike a blow for the 99%.

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