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Can we blame the Lakers television deal for the lockout?

Oct 26, 2011, 1:23 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Regal FC Barcelona Getty Images

There is plenty of blame to go around for why we are still sitting here with an NBA lockout going on and the regular season postponed.

David Stern, Billy Hunter, Kevin Garnett, Paul Allen, Derek Fisher, Robert Saver and Bennett Salvatore are all to blame. Oh, wait, not Salvatore. I just blame him for everything wrong with the NBA out of habit. My bad.

But now we can add another to the blame list — Jerry Buss and the Lakers new massive television deal. Brian Windhorst of ESPN passes along this tidbit.

When the Lakers agreed to a new local television deal worth several billion dollars last winter, it only further united their small-market competition in pressing for a makeover of both the revenue-sharing system and the split with the players.

“That Lakers’ TV deal scared the hell out of everybody,” one league official said. “Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn’t fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they’re playing against.”

And here we are now, with the owners holding the hard line.

The other owners realized that the Lakers are raking in the cash, that the Celtics are about to do the same with a new deal with Comcast.

Those small market owners wanted a chunk of that money — make no mistake, this whole lockout is about cash — but they cleverly phrased it as “competitive balance.” They say it’s not about the money, it’s about a chance to compete.

If they want to compete, they need to draft well and make smart decisions with their contracts. The Raptors had a larger payroll than the Heat last season, money alone is not the answer.

So the small market owners started driving the bus, demanding major givebacks from the players and a bigger share of revenue sharing from the larger market teams. Those larger market teams don’t want to cut into their profits, so they say, “fine with the revenue sharing, but all that money we send out has to be new revenue we get in from this labor deal.”

And suddenly you have big-market owners coming in as hardliners, too.

And suddenly you are approaching Nov. 1 — the day the season was supposed to start — and you have no labor deal. You have a lockout. You have a lot of greedy people looking foolish.

Yet, here we are.

  1. echech88 - Oct 26, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Doesn’t the part about the Raptors and Heat kind of highlight the problem that great players are willing to take less money to play together in huge or attractive markets like New York, LA and Miami? Not to say the Raptors could have done better in a lot of ways, but this can’t be ignored or brushed off as a non-factor.

    I’m pretty sure the great franchise-altering players would almost all take a little less to play in a huge market with more exposure and branding opportunities than simply get a bigger contract in Toronto, Sacramento, Charlotte or Indiana. And that IS a serious problem for “competitive balance”

    • therealhtj - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      Is there seriously something echech88 wrote worth a thumbs down? You small market fans need to lighten up. It’s not like anyone held a gun to your head and made you sign Rudy Gay and Joe Johnson to max deals.

  2. marcusfitzhugh - Oct 26, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    The Lakers TV deal is not the reason for the lockout. Dr Buss bought the Lakers over 30 years ago. No one believes other owners who made more recent purchases in smaller markets can somehow expect to reap the same level of financial success as the Lakers in 2012. The NBA owners have discussed increasing the revenue sharing pool from the current forty something million to one hundred and fifty million. That’s all the smaller markets can expect. Period. If someone pays a gazzillion dollars to add a new franchise on Pluto, that’s their problem. The Lakers / Knicks / Bulls / Boston are not in the NBA to fund teams that can’t turn a profit.

    The reason for the lockout is to establish a CBA to replace the one that expired. Now somebody accept a deal so I can check out some games.

  3. texmex2 - Oct 26, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    @marcusfitzhugh certainly hit the nail on the head ~

  4. santolonius - Oct 26, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    “If they want to compete, they need to draft well and make smart decisions with their contracts.”

    i don’t believe this is true. first there is the money. dallas was 3rd highest payroll last year and they got the trophy. but as for draft picks, you can get a great guy and about the time he comes into his own he bolts. and not always for the money. he bolts to create a super team somewhere because he wants a ring. and where will that place be? somewhere sexy. miami. new york. los angeles. how is a small market, low budget, dull city supposed to comete with that? well some of us live in those cities and we’d like a championship every now and then. why does the nba expect anyone to pay for a ticket and come to a game in a city where they don’t have a chance to build a team because the draftees leave as soon as they play out their first contract? stand tall small market owners. because you are the only people in the mess that seem to care what happens to small market fans. sports writers certainly don’t care. they just want something to write about.

  5. marcusfitzhugh - Oct 26, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    I don’t know why LA having an advantage is a surprise to anyone. Buss has been an NBA owner longer than anyone else. He’s also in Los Angeles where there is no NFL competition for fan dollars, there are plenty of businesses buying luxury boxes, and there are celebrities standing in line to buy courtside seats. For those who hadn’t noticed, in LA, courtside goes several ROWS back. OF COURSE he’s going to have an economic advantage over Johnny Come Lately from some city with no fan base.

    Eight NBA clubs have changed owners in the past 2 years. Those owners better not complain. Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte, Golden State, The Nets, New Orleans (who nobody wants to own), the Wiz, and the 76ers – those owners can just shut up, sit in the back, and take whatever deal the other guys come up with. Think about it. They just got here. I know they paid their money, but still, they have ZERO seniority. It’s like 30 guys have a regular poker game. 8 of the guys are new, and just started playing. You know what those 8 guys are in charge of? Nothing. They just got here.

    BTW, I’m not a Laker fan. My favorite team hasn’t won an NBA championship since Nixon was pres. But we’re close. Closer than 3 years ago.

  6. 140chrviolation - Oct 26, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Kurt, I think blame is the wrong word here. Blame implies personal responsibility and that one should have acted differently. Suppose the Lakers are up by 1 point with 10 seconds left, Kobe hits a baseline runner putting the lead up to 3 with 3 seconds left. The Celtics get the ball at half-court and Rondo takes a 3-pointer that misses at the buzzer. Do you then blame Kobe for Rondo taking that shot? The Lakers manufactured that deal with Time-Warner. The response by the rest of the league is not their fault. There are better words you could have used then blame.

    As for competitive balance…. When the San Antonio Spurs win a championship, this pleases maybe 3 million people (depending also on who they beat out for the win). When the Lakers win it, this makes dozens of millions of fans happy. Competitive balance is nice, but lets not pretend that all fan bases are equal. The Lakers have been better at branding their image then any team in the NBA. They cultivated business associations. The Lakers managed their team and the business in a manner that put then at an advantage compared to San Antonio or New Orleans. A decent portion of this is a result of the market they are in. Beyond this, the Lakers managed to create fans of their team from people who never have and will never step foot in the 310. The Lakers earned their money and now the other owners want to take credit for that success. I love the NBA and I enjoy watching other teams. I’ve had League Pass the last 4 seasons and got my money’s worth. So, I’m not just speaking as a Lakers fan. I just don’t think all the these competitive balance arguments lack general consideration. You can add up the number of fans of probably the bottom 10 teams in the league and there are double that in Lakers fans. Maybe John Hollinger can come up with some sort of stat that expresses happiness per fan given the size of the franchise’s fan base? Call it START THE SEASON ALREADY.

  7. trbowman - Oct 27, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    Can we blame the Lakers for everything?

    Yes

  8. 1historian - Oct 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Things I would love to see but never will;

    OWS occupying Lakerland and LaLaLand.

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