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Lockout spin of the day: Owners aren’t kidding about 50/50

Oct 31, 2011, 2:28 PM EDT

David Stern, Adam Silver AP

Right now, David Stern and the owners are trying to scare the players, to push them into agreeing to a 50/50 split of basketball related income (BRI, the revenue the league takes in).

The players got 57 percent in the old deal and think they have given up enough coming down to 52.5, that the owners have to give something back, too. The players see this as a negotiation between partners and want some give and take.

The owners want the money and the power, and are going after them like Tony Montana in Scarface, David Aldridge reports at

The players aren’t going to get 52, or 51, or 50.5, or 50.000001, and if they hold out for those numbers, they’re not going to have a season. You’d have to be crazy not to see that now, so it’s this for the players: take the deal this week or next, or lose the season. If they are willing to die on principle, they wouldn’t be the first. But they will die, in the metaphorical sense….

The players say it’s unfair that they’ve moved so far, from 57 percent of BRI in the old deal to 54.5 percent, and then 53, and 52.5, that they’ve already agreed to $180 million per year in salary givebacks, $1.8 billion over 10 years if they accept the league’s terms.

But this isn’t about fair. This is about the NBA putting its house back in order — naked, real-world realpolitik. If you understand nothing else about these negotiations, understand this: this isn’t just about money, at least not totally; this is about re-establishing who’s in charge.

Is that spin and scare tactics by the owners? Sure. That doesn’t mean there’s not truth in it.

That brings us back to what we’ve talked about before here at PBT — LeBron James and how things went down in his move to Miami, and how that led us to here. James had the power — teams came to him to kiss his ring and make their pitch. Teams spent years clearing out cap space to make a run at him and Chris Bosh. The players controlled that summer, the owners didn’t like it.

Now the owners have the leverage and they are going to win. Completely and totally. They offered the players a deal: a 50/50 BRI split but the owners win on system issues, or 47 percent of BRI and the players get some system issues back. The players want both. The players are betting that the owners will give up a little more on BRI eventually, maybe 51 or 52, plus some system issues. That’s where we stand right now.

The players have some wins in these talks. The biggest was keeping the salary cap tied to league revenues — as the league makes more, the players make more because the cap will go up. That was a principle worth fighting for. But a couple of percentage points? With every day and every dollar lost by the players — and how this lockout impacts fans and will drive revenues down — it becomes a fair question to ask when the players need to just give in and get back on the court.

Frankly, that time is very soon.

  1. texmex2 - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Damn Kurt congrats you finally wrote a post that is dead on concerning the “new” CBA, wow, thanks>>…..

  2. jeffb523 - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Kurt, exactly which ring of Lebron’s were the owners lining up to kiss? His class ring? His high school state championship ring?

    • goforthanddie - Oct 31, 2011 at 9:00 PM

      Beat me to it :)

    • yournuts - Nov 1, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      Don’t you know that LeBron is the KING. Just ask him!

  3. sonofsambowie - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    It is nice to see everyone getting the bigger picture here. The owners want to be profitable, period. Take the stand now and make it happen. In the long wrong the whole league benefits. If the players had their way, they’d continue to get their 57%, even if it meant putting the league in financial peril.

  4. thetooloftools - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I support the owners 100% on this deal. Both James and Bosh walked on Max contracts knowing their teams would have to do a sign and trade to get something. The fact that James waited till the premium free agents were signed before he announced what he was doing, really “did” the Cavs. It’s time the owners pushed back. The players are too stupid to put the blame exactly where it need to be… at the feel of LeBron James. The players need to own it, but they won’t. I don’t care if they sit out all season. I don’t trust todays player to do what is right for the league. They have already proved by their actions that money doesn’t really matter. So why does it matter now?

  5. ogre2010 - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Great article and Great insight. After reading that, I am totally for the owners. If the players think they are bigger than the league, then have Isaiah Thomas run your basketball operations.

  6. acieu - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Hold firm owners restore the sanity or the NBA is dead.

  7. goforthanddie - Oct 31, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    I bet if you asked every player, right now, a majority would be happy with 50/50.

    • southbeachtalent - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      Your probably right. The owners keep moving the line.

  8. bossaliniee - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    Half of u people that ride with the owners do so cause they are white, u people are racist. Everything has a racist undertone in America.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:02 PM

      Maybe your the racist one, insinuating that half the people that are on the owners side are white. Wouldn’t that make you the racist one? This has nothing to do with people who are white, black, asian, purple, maroon, or pink. This has to do with players thinking they can call the shots around the league and the fact that 8 teams in the league made money. So your your racist bullsh!t and shove it your butt.

      • texmex2 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:52 PM

        yeah but up your Butt ~

    • southbeachtalent - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:38 PM

      I didn’t know Warren Moon was in here?

    • yournuts - Nov 1, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      bossalinlee I think that your remark is totally racist. There are plenty of white basketball players in the NBA. I don’t see what color has to do with it! Tell us why you think it is? Please give us one good reason to side with the players? Just one please?

  9. ghelton03 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    The players should decertify the union. Then, only the top 10-15 players need to hold out. Without the superstars no one will watch and the owners will have to play the players they have signed. The players are the game and the owners need to understand that. The owners are replaceable. The top 10-15 players are not replaceable.

    • goforthanddie - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:55 AM

      The top 10-15 players are not replaceable.

      Of course they are. Jordan retired, Bird retired, Magic retired…And yet the league went on. It’s a team game.

    • troy10 - Nov 1, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      I would love it if they did that…. then I’d actually go and watch basketball… pure basketball… 5 guys working as a team.. not standing around and watching the “superstar”.
      In fact… at this point… that’s the only way I’d watch the NBA now. I feel bad for all the “little people” (restaurant owners, arena workers) that this affects. But, I would love nothing more then to have the NBA CANCELLED!

    • yournuts - Nov 1, 2011 at 3:12 PM

      ghelton03, you wanna bet? They would be forgotten within a year. They would be back or broke! They would lose all their endorsements and everything that basketball has provided for them. The NBA made them who they are. They are basketball players not gods. Without the owners the players have NOTHING. NOTHING. No place to play, no endorsements, no league, nobody would be promoting them.

  10. beagle11 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    The NBA has a salary cap and has crowned 8 different champions since 1984. MLB has no salary cap and has crowned 8 different champions since 2002. How bout you remove the cap, establish a heavy luxury tax on over spending teams and let the owners decide what they want to pay players.

    • troy10 - Nov 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      What a stupid comment. First of all.. then NBA never had a “hard cap”, so teams were in fact able to spend more. And… those teams in baseball that spend a lot ALL the time.. they’re at least in it every year. The Yankees are in the hunt for a championship every year. Now… they don’t win it every year b/c either another HIGH spending team (Red Sox, Angels) beats them, or a fluke of the year team like Tampa was a few years ago beats them. However, the Yankees spending a ton gives them the opportunity EVERY SINGLE year to win. Just b/c there was “8 different champions” does mean a whole lot.
      And, Boston won it twice in those 8 years.. does that really count as “different champions”.

      • sonofsambowie - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM

        Not to mention that roughly 25% of the teams have absolutely 0% chance to even sniff the playoffs, let alone the World Series. The idiots that maintain that Baseball’s economic system isn’t broken always trot out that “oh, we have different champions ever year!” baloney, when everyone knows that teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City operate on 1/5 of the payroll that the heavy hitters do. Last year alone, 10 of the league’s teams spent less than 1/3 of the money the Yankees did.

        It’s absurd, and god help us if this ever happens to the NBA the way it has in baseball and the Englisg Premier League, among other places. Truth is, even with the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax, the NBA was slowly headed in this direction, with the Mavs and the Lakers spending more than twice what the bottom teams do.

        Fix this now before it’s too late.

  11. ghelton03 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    The owners are not obligated to pay max contracts and it’s not minnimum contracts that are causing the owners to allegedly lose money. The owners already control their own destiny with the CBA that just expired and they have always controlled their own destiny. Fact is, owners are irresponsible with their spending and don’t know how to run their clubs, let alone the NBA.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:29 PM

      Owners pay the players good money after one season and then the players get paid their guaranteed contract and flat out don’t give two sh!ts are more. See Mike James

    • texmex2 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:57 PM


    • sonofsambowie - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      This is an unrealistic view of this. The spending, especially on the bad contracts, comes from the ‘keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that will usually prevail in any competitive setting. This is why they want a hard cap, so that they don’t have show restraint in spending but rather are forced to by the rules. It is the most practical solution.

      • troy10 - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        Because if the owners don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”, then their fanbase gets angry that their team “isn’t doing enough” to win. Some owners know that these contracts are not going to be good for their team in the long term, but are almost forced to sign these players to keep their fans interested. And… thus, draw fans to the arena.

  12. rreducla1 - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    Please give us one good reason to side with the players? Just one please?


    I’ve answered this or three or four times already.

  13. rreducla1 - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    It is the most practical solution.


    Nope. If we buy the owners’ own reporting of their financials, (I don’t, but I assume you do) then a few teams are making money and the rest are losing money.

    So, the “practical solution” is revenue sharing. They haven’t worked that out yet, because their main priority is getting as much money out of the players as they can. Ditto with competitive balance; they are not pushing for a franchise tag, they are supposedly keeping the MLE near what it was, they are apparently keeping sign-and-trade. T

  14. rreducla1 - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    ….They don’t care about competitive balance. Last year, with James in Miami, revenues went up–again. With the Laker and Dallas and Orlando payrolls pushing 100M revenues went up–again.

    The picture is clear if you look at what the owners do, instead of what they say.

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