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The stupid BRI issue is really stupid

Oct 29, 2011, 11:30 AM EDT

billy-hunter-david-stern Getty Images

One would think that after four months, the NBPA and NBA would be able to figure out how to split pie slices. But no. Talks blew up again Friday over the split of Basketball Related Income, BRI, the phrase that has become the scourge of fans’ existence as more games are cancelled.  On the surface, it’s as simple as this: the players won’t come down from 52 percent, a five percentage point drop from what they held under the prior arrangement, and the owners won’t come up from 50 percent, which they feel is a “concession” from their ludicrous starting position of a 46 percent (or lower) cut for the players. They might as well have started at 0 percent for players and say they’ve given up 50 points.

It sounds simple, and stubborn, and pointless. And it is, but it’s a little more complex than that.

Let’s start with an overlooked element that has quietly slid by in the past two days. When talking about BRI, Billy Hunter made reference to the “expenses deduction” this week. The owners had been wanting to take a certain amount of money for expenses for ownership off the top of BRI, essentially saying “we only want to split the true profit.” That’s a pretty absurd position in the minds of most analysts. Consider that the players don’t have any sort of impact on the decision-making of ownership when it comes to expenses. The BRI is constructed  as the revenue generated by basketball. The owners want it to be “the revenue generated by basketball after we get back what we paid to create that revenue generated by basketball, which we don’t actually play.”

The position was such a hot-button that in previous talks it had been yanked off the table. Simple enough, and that concession was part of why I started to side with the owners at one point, at least before their extremists walked back in the room and lit everything on fire. Again. But after Hunters’ comments this week, and a tweet from Nazr Mohammed last night, it would appear that the league re-instituted this position into talks.

So that’s not really productive.

The expenses reduction essentially means that when you take the players’ cut under the owners’ proposal and divide it by the total money earned by the sources which make up BRI, plus the money they want to pull out first, the players’ actual cut would be 47 percent. It’s essentially the owners manipulating the system to make 47 percent look like 50 percent, according to the union’s math.

That sounds pretty owner-like, given what we’ve seen in this process, right? “Sure, I’ll give you 50 percent (when you want 52), I’ve just got to make it where 47 percent looks like 50 real quick.”


Meanwhile, Ken Berger of brings up the fact that neither Hunter nor David Stern entered talks yesterday with the necessary bargaining power on BRI to get a deal. Stern, predictably, has his hands tied by the extremists owners who have been sabotaging a season since July 1st. But who’s got Hunter’s hands tied? From Berger:

“Billy said, ‘My phone is ringing off the hook from agents and from players telling me I cannot go under 52 percent,’ ” Silver said. “And he said, ‘Unless youre prepared to go there, we have nothing to talk about.'”

So even at this late date, when they were on the cusp of a deal, each one’s bus has been hijacked — the way union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said the negotiations were hijacked a week ago. Stern is no longer driving for the league, and Hunter has been booted from the drivers seat by agents who — justifiably or not — believe the players already have given up too much in this negotiation and shouldnt give up another dime.

Yes, the two men who were supposedly empowered to make the deal everyone expected them to make Friday didnt have the juice to get it done. That’s sad, silly, unfortunate, a disgrace — and reality.

via Season takes another hit as owners, players refuse to close deal – NBA – Basketball.

So from left-to-right here, we’ve got agents-Hunter-Stern-extremist owners. That’s the lineup for trying to save a season, with two reasonable men (regardless of your feelings on Stern, it’s clear from this week that he’s at least trying to get a deal, possibly against the wishes of the geniuses backing the teams losing the $300 million) trying to get a deal done and the sides behind them making that impossible.

How do you get a deal done when neither side really wants one, when they’d rather just lose the money which is quickly becoming relative pocket change compared to the losses and economic damage from missed games?  You don’t. You just watch Rome burn.

Like I said. Stupid.

  1. jonka - Oct 29, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    we all know its going to end up at 51/49 why cant they just pull the dam trigger already?
    we as fans should make sure these greedy fucks lose even more money by boycotting a good 10 games atleassst

  2. lphboston - Oct 29, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Hunter is getting calls from agents? Why should agents have anything to do with this? The players should decide on their own whether or not the offer they get from the owners is good enough to accept. Keep the agents out of it.

  3. mrhney03 - Oct 29, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    they might as well cancel Christmas!

  4. adiddie - Oct 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM


  5. crazyfootballfun - Oct 29, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Once again, why should the players get anything out of the BRI? they are employees who get paid outrageous salaries. They invest nothing into the business other than their talents, which they are already compensated for. If they want to get the profits, they should share in the expenses, and take the risks if there are losses. Most of us never get a percent of our companies profits…we get salaries that are not anything like what these spoiled nba players get.

    • derekjetersmansion - Oct 29, 2011 at 8:11 PM

      You wouldn’t watch if they weren’t paid as much as they are. Most people think the money is a carrot to perform well. If they’re only paid $50K, then you’ll $50K of effort. Kobe is not Kobe at 50K. It’d be like watching an over-35 league. Also, they only invest their entire lives from about birth. No big deal.

    • mytthor - Oct 29, 2011 at 9:21 PM

      I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The players are not just “employees.” The owners have no product without the players, for one thing. And these players are not just the ones currently doing their job, they are the only ones who can do it. No one would watch a league where the best players didn’t play. If you just replace the players, then you have a league where the best player in the league is worse at basketball than ANY player in the league now. You have an entire league WORSE than Adam Morrison. If you say you’d watch that, you’re a liar, or a WNBA fan. I’m not sure which one’s worse.

      NBA owners are businessmen, but for them, the NBA is not a business. It’s a hobby. No one made their fortune being an NBA owner, and not a single NBA owner will tell you it’s a good investment. They do it for recognition and recreation. And I guarantee you NBA players work harder at getting better at their job than NBA owners do.

    • dadawg77 - Oct 29, 2011 at 9:26 PM

      You really have no idea what you are talking about. This isn’t profit sharing or bonuses but how much the players will receive in compensation for their talent (Salary). Since the players are the product being sold, they can demand a greater percentage of the revenue they generate.

  6. liquidgrammar - Oct 29, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    @crazyfootballfun. You can’t be serious, can you?? Fans are not going to see the owners, coaches, or arenas!! they’re going to see the players!! There is no game without them!!! You want the players to be responsible for the owners being unable to control themselves??!! Get real!! This is not the postal service!! Nobody wants to watch you, Joe Anybody, dig holes for a living!!

  7. 6thsense79 - Oct 29, 2011 at 7:18 PM


    Don’t be an idiot. Your unsophisticated argument tells me an everyone on here you don’t have a clue at all about how professional sports operate. Besides the obvious that the players and owners operate in a partnership arrangement (to protect against anti-trust pot holes), NBA players and superstars more than any other team sport are the star attractions.

  8. marcusfitzhugh - Oct 29, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    Lets get real. I’ve been to the Staples Center and to MSG, one thing I didn’t see was “free”. With that in mind, I think we can all agree there are expenses in basketball. Advertising, refs, halftime shows (the Laker girls DEFINITELY aren’t free), air fare, hotels, meals, security, insurance, team doctors, coaches, the list goes on forever. In looking at my short list, the stuff isn’t just for owners. Since it all costs money, and it’s for the benefit of BOTH parties, how about the owners and the players “split” the expenses. Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s the part where the owners want to take money for expenses off the top of the BRI.

    Well, suppose the owners don’t take the expenses off the top. Suppose everyone just pays their fair share. Yeah, right. Like that’s going to work. Does anyone really expect Kobe Bryant to foot the bill for parking at home games? Really? What’s he supposed to do, circle Staples looking for some guy holding a sign that says “$25 parking and we won’t jack you or steal the car”? Will the players all chip in rent their lockers, or do they pay individually? The Gatorade, will the towel boy collect a dollar per bottle? Who pays the refs? Can you imagine Rasheed Wallace having to pay a ref back when he was in Portland? Please.

    The expenses aren’t the problem. The expenses are just something extra for these two groups to bring up and fight about. Like when your wife brings up stuff from 3 years ago during an argument. It has nothing to do with whatever you’re fighting about. It’s just an excuse to fight. The problem is this: These two groups, the owners AND the players can’t agree how to split a FOUR BILLION DOLLAR POT. Divide up the loot already! Does everybody in the meeting have to be Gordon Gecko?

  9. crazyfootballfun - Oct 30, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Sorry folks, I am serious. I agree all sides are greedy, but feel the players are already greatly compensated. To reject 50 percent of the profits on top of their salaries seems absurd. And although many of the NBA owners may be in it for a ” hobby”, I don’t think they should not be allowed to profit. and if the owners stick to their guns, let’s see how many players walk away. Maybe they go overseas. and guys like Kobe…what he only plays hard if he gets paid more money? I don’t thinks so. And liquid…you act like the players aren’t being paid much! they are the best in the world and they are being amply compensated. 50/50 split seems more than generous to a few bozos like me.

  10. vnhorn - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    You do realize they don’t get their salaries and then 50% of the BRI as well right. What happens is that they get 50% of the BRI as salaries. A certain amount of revenue/salary each season is placed in escrow and then redistributed depending on if the salary already given out is above or below the negotiated BRI% for the players. The BRI is their salary really.

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