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David Stern sets ultimatum for players: accept deal by Wednesday or offer gets worse

Nov 6, 2011, 1:16 AM EDT

David Stern Reuters

After labor negotiations ended late Saturday/early Sunday morning in New York, David Stern told reporters in a press conference that federal mediator George Cohen had suggested six elements of what Stern called “what-if” compromises. Stern said the league accepted five of them and put them into a formal proposal. Included was a 49-51 band of BRI, wherein based off of aggressive revenues, the players would get 51, and under underwhelming-to-standard rates, the league would get 51. Other elements included a modified mid-level exception.

Then Stern lowered the boom.

The offer, Stern says, is on the table until Wednesday at the close of business. At that time, the offer expires and the owners will respond with a new offer of 47 percent across the board for the players and a return to the flex cap the union balked at right before the lockout was enacted. It is the ultimate power play, set up under the pretenses of compromise through acceptance of Cohen’s suggestions, and levied with the biggest fear from analysts, that the deals would only get worse from here on out.

Stern painted the collapse of a deal Saturday night on union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who Stern said rejected nearly all of the elements in the proposal. In doing so, Stern has provided the union with a bad guy to pin it on. The 51 high-end offer on the band gives them something to save face with, even as members of the NBPA have sworn not to go lower than 52 percent (and this offer from the union is very precisely geared to go beneath that), and the structure of the advanced luxury tax and restrictions on teams in the luxury tax (a $2.5 million mid-level exception for tax payers, along with no sign-and-trades) are preferable to the flex-cap and more aggressive maneuvers. It’s a total victory wrapped in a blanket of compromise. It’s strategy at Stern’s most brilliant.

The countdown is on. The question is whether the players believe their position will not become stronger, if they believe decertification is a viable option, or if they believe this is enough for them to swallow and the best they will get. A season may hinge on it.

Clock’s ticking, and Stern just put the union in check.

  1. david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    I tend to support the players in this thing. They’re the ones with the short careers, they’re the faces of the league. They’re the ones actually drawing the fans in, making the money for everyone.

    But they need to fold. The owners have the power. They can wait it out, the players can’t. At this point they won’t accomplish anything except losing even more money for themselves.

    And of course we as basketball fans will suffer for it. So give it up, players. You fought the good fight, now take the best offer you’ll ever get.

    • edweird0 - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:05 AM

      I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been with the players from the getgo but as a fan I just want this over with. My initial reaction to this new was for the players to concide defeat and just salvage what they can of the season. As selfish as this may be, I just want some damn basketball, principles be damned.

      • david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:31 AM

        Couldn’t agree more.

    • eaglessuperfan - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:51 AM

      I could not disagree more on supporting the players but I agree with the rest of your statement. The NBA system is more screwed up then MLB and needs to be put way way back towards the owners. This is the best deal that they are gonna get and if they think they can do better they better put down the pipe.

      • beagle11 - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:03 AM

        How exactly is the MLB system messed up? Every team is profitable and they’ve crowned more new champions in the last 20 years than both football and basketball.Don’t confuse certain teams reluctance to spend with an inability.

    • muhangis - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:44 AM

      Support the greedy players… why? What about the higher ticket, parking, and concession prices they are forcing upon us???

      Rest of your statement might sound okay, but both players and owners are greedy. As rest of the nation is in a deep recession / depression, they just want more and more upon their already excessively wealthy sum.

      • david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 5:16 AM

        Uhh…….. You realize that the players aren’t the ones who have the authority to set ticket, parking, and concession prices, right? That would be the owners who do that.

    • florida727 - Nov 6, 2011 at 7:34 AM

      Totally disagree. Players are nothing more than “employees”. The short-career thing doesn’t ring true for two reasons… a) the league minimum dictates that a short career still leaves the player with a stupid amount of money, and b) can’t they get a “real job” like 99.9% of the rest of the English-speaking free world? Why do people assume that because a basketball player isn’t playing basketball anymore, they’re useless to society? Go get a J-O-B. Everyone else does… including the fans that made you rich in the first place. The players take NONE of the risk associated with running a BUSINESS. They have NO leverage. This ultimatum from Stern/owners should have taken place months ago.

    • borderline1988 - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:20 AM

      The media has been spinning this as the players ‘giving up over $1 billion through the next decade/deal’.
      I know $1 billion sounds dramatic, but honestly, if we take a step back:
      Fact is, the players are taking a 7% pay cut (in the BRI split). That’s hardly anything, considering the recessionary economy has forced people to lose 50% of their pay, or all of it entirely. And remember, this is coming after 15 years in which the NBA average wage has literally skyrocketed.
      This isn’t about money. This is about pride. This is about who is in control of the NBA. And honestly, the NBA SHOULD be in control. It’s their league – they carry the risks of ownership, something the players do not.

      So I have zero sympathy for NBA players. To whine about a 7% wage cut in their relative situation is sick. And if their pride gets in the way, fine. The owners are making business decisions. THe players are letting their egos do the talking – we’ll see who lasts this one out.

      • magicfanintn - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        Yeah, no ego in that owner named Michael Jordan. Good point. /sarc

    • bird500 - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:46 PM

      So they have short careers. Does that mean they can play for 3-4 years and then retire without ever working again?

      I don’t think they are that special that 3 or 4 years of work should entitle them to never have to work again. After their playing careers are over, there is nothing wrong with them working for a living.

      • borderline1988 - Nov 6, 2011 at 5:32 PM


        MJ does have a massive ego. But it’s not his ego talking in this case. He’s the part-owner of a struggling franchise that lost money last year. Of course he’s going to be the most vigilant against giving in anything to the players.
        My point was that the players have enormous egos, and as such feel entitled to many millions of dollars every year to play a game. As soon as they are required to give back some in good faith (I say in good faith b/c players today make many, many times more money than they did even 15 years ago. Look at vince carter – that guy made something like $150 million over his overrated career. Had he been drafted 12 years earlier, he wouldn’t have made a fifth of that).
        7% isn’t a lot of money. It’s really insignificant in the big picture, and I dont understand how the PBT writers are making it look like the world is falling for the players.

  2. k9tt0 - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    Owners just like the republican party, rich getting richer.

  3. bearsstillsuck - Nov 6, 2011 at 5:02 AM

    I think stern is doing the right thing. if the players are too dumb to take this deal then they deserve to miss the season.

  4. thetooloftools - Nov 6, 2011 at 6:16 AM

    Hey David.
    After Wednesday threaten to cancel the season and pull the trigger if need be.
    These players need to know who is holding the leash.
    Screw em’ !
    They somehow forget they are over paid already.

    • magicfanintn - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:18 AM


      “Over paid” relative to what? First, I’ll bet that the answer is “compared to me.” In other words, the answer to “how much is fair?” is always going to be “less.” Why does everyone these days think that successful people shouldn’t be compensated at a rate the market will bear? If you don’t like the ticket prices or the merchandise prices, don’t pay. That will change the market.

      Second, if the players are “over paid” it is because they signed contracts offered by these same owners that you support. (see also: Eddy Curry, John Salmons, DeSagana Diop, etc) Contracts are not unilateral. It takes two to tango. Until they show actual losses on real balance sheets, the owners are blowing smoke to complain about revenues.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:23 AM

        Overpaid relative to other athletes by the total revenue brought in.

    • david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      “Holding the leash?”

      That isn’t language that describes a business relationship where both parties should have mutual respect for each other. I don’t understand why you think it’s ok for ANY employer to be trying to squeeze every penny out of their employees, refusing to negotiate in good faith.

      As for the players being “overpaid”….. no. All the articles I’ve seen on this subject show that the best NBA players are actually underpaid relative to the amount of money they make for their franchises.

      Like Magicfanintn said, you think they are overpaid “compared to you.” But compared to other people in the entertainment industry, they are actually underpaid.

  5. tominma - Nov 6, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    Ya know someting. I dont pay much attention to the NBA anymore!

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 6, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      And yet you are reading and commenting on a site dedicated to the NBA.

      • phaden27 - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        Wow. Just wow, the sarcasm mixed with the above stupid reply made my day.

  6. garyaroot - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    The players do not have the right to say that these businesses cannot be profitable.

    The teams are not profitable, therefore the owners have a right to shut down if the players are being paid too much.

  7. ogre2010 - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    If you have to app on your phone, then you see all the updates.

  8. denverdude7 - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    Take Bron-Bron, Wade, Kobe and the rest of the elite, overpaid, tatooed, egomaniac, bling bearers out of the equation and the lockout would have been settled a month ago.

    The elite players like those mentioned above are the ones who will feel the impact of a smaller pie the most. For the remainder of the rank and file players their salaries will not change that much.

    How a small handful of elite players has managed to convince the majority to support their self-serving demands is a question the players themselves need to answer.

    In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying an NBA free SportsCenter every morning. The extended coverage of the NFL to fill the time has given me much more information to manage my fantasy teams with.

    The NBA should just cancel the season now and the next 2 or 3 to boot. Bron-Bron can go play with himself in Italy, China or preferably Ethiopia.

    • david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      If you’re actually enjoying an NBA free sportscenter, stop posting. Seriously. You’re not a true NBA fan if you;re enjoying anything about this, so do us a favor and get out.

  9. moth25 - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    I am so tired of people using the argument that “we pay to see the players” and “the players are the game, not the owners.” Then why haven’t these pick-up games been more successful? Why can’t the players just put on a series of all-star games and make more money than the NBA is offering? It’s because as much as we hate to admit it, it takes marketing and business savvy to make ANY product successful (see Apple). If the players are willing to take a risk with their money, and have some business/marketing savvy, they can tell NBA owners to **** off. Until then, they have nothing.

  10. Amadeus - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Hoping the union rejects it and season is canceled. Who needs the NBA anyway? Most people can’t afford the sky-high ticket prices and virtually all games are unwatchable until the finals.

    • david8726 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM

      I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to the other guy – If you don’t actually care about the NBA, why the hell are you posting in this blog?

      Get out.

  11. Fred - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    The owners are no different than common thugs and hoodlums. Rather than be creative and broach the tough questions that would allow them to fix their broken business model, they simply smack someone in the head and take what they want. Their conduct is exactly the same as rich, powerful business owners in society at large. They don’t give a damn about making their community better and sustainable as long as they get every last dime they can squeeze today. Not that I’m sympathetic to the clueless players, but if the owners get away with this, we all lose.

  12. nelle - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Funny how a marketplace that produces high salaries for players renders them overpaid, yet owners are seen as models of capitalism because they take ‘risks’. Um, how are salary caps, a process arrived at through collusion, capitalism?

    I’m not crazy about high salaries, if compared to say… those employed to teach, put out fires, or protect neighbourhoods, but the system should be fair to all involved, and right now what I see here are owners who wish to guarantee profit by removal of risk, while squelching the right of players to negotiate wages.

    No one knows with any certainty what franchise financial losses are, because we haven’t seen their books. I do know that such losses, if they exist, can be mitigated by owners sharing, as they do in football. Basketball owners do not wish to take this route, they want to crush the union and guarantee profit this way.

    Unless you earn in excess of a million a year, you should be rooting for players, because if owners can screw with people who have a high demand, limited supply skill set and force a take it or leave it deal on you, eventually every employer in America is going to be trying this stunt. Good luck when it is your turn.

    • danielcp0303 - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Exactly. People keep saying “if most people are losing jobs and taking paycuts, why shouldn’t the players”…as if that’s ok. Maybe we should be holding the owners of businesses and the people who run them to a higher standard. It’s not ok to cut pay and treat workers like crap, especially when they have a special skill or something great to offer. We’ve all seen companies that have been run into the ground, and the regular people suffer for it. In this case the hundred millionaires (probably a made up term) are sticking it to the millionaires and the everyday people WHO PAY FOR THEIR SALARIES are suffering. If the owners can’t use their money wisely, maybe we should stop giving it to them until they sell their team to a bright businessman.

      • yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        What special skill? THEY ARE BASKETBALL PLAYERS. They are athletic. It is not a special skill! They can’t operate on someone brain, send someone to the moon, they can’t fix the economy. They can only shoot a ball into a hoop. That is not a special skill. danielp0303 you are delusional, you shouldn’t write your twisted crap telling people how special basketball players are, their not even good role models for our children. Why do you worry about what the owners make? Don’t the players make enough?

      • danielcp0303 - Nov 6, 2011 at 4:26 PM


        If it wasn’t a special skill, everyone would be an NBA player. I didn’t call them “special” either, but rather a special skill. So that has absolutely nothing to do with being a “role model” to our children. Maybe I’m old fashioned (which is possible even though im not old), but maybe parents should try and be a role model to their kids…just a thought. And to your last point…Why do you worry about how much the players make? Don’t the owners make enough?? It’s a stupid argument and can go both ways.

      • nelle - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:46 AM

        yournuts – you may not like the idea of high sports salaries, and I do agree we as a society place too much of an emphasis on our entertainment and not enough in other areas – that is on us, not the players who develop the skills *we* want to see.

        In this world we fans create via our interest, yes, they are highly skilled. Go play hoops against any of them, hell go play hoops against any college player, men or women, and chances are you won’t fare very well. I’d say that counts as a rather high skill, in the framework we’ve created. If most of us can’t do it, they can, and someone will pay to utilise their talent, you betcha its a skill.

  13. thejokewriter - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    …With 4800 minutes left in the 2012 season, the Union is on the clock!

  14. danielcp0303 - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    When the new deal has come to an end in 7 or 8 years, we’ll be right back where we started. The owners aren’t fixing the real problems, they are just content with winning the PR battle for the 50%. It’s a shame that some of these owners don’t sell their team to better business people. They don’t have enough money to run their team, and now the league will punish the owners that do have enough money…the ones that care about how their team performs. It’s bad enough that the teams in the luxury tax had to pay on the dollar for every dollar over, now it’s gonna be maybe double that? Also cutting the mid level in half for those teams and taking away sign and trades. All while raising ticket prices to “grow the game”. You’re all getting hoodwinked.

    • dpetersonmn - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      For Danielcp… if all of these “Model Teams” that have enough money to pay the luxury tax are being punished and fault lies with the owners of smaller market teams, why don’t we suggest eliminating about 25 or so of the current NBA teams?

      Should make for an interesting league; kind of like the one that the Globetrotters play in- 2 teams.

  15. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Overpaid relative to other athletes by the total revenue brought in.


    Dead wrong. Only 12-15 guys on a roster. The big stars are actually underpaid.

  16. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    It’s their league – they carry the risks of ownership, something the players do not.


    I see you’re as dumb as you were yesterday. Franchise values have continued to go up; the long-term risks of owning a sports franchise are very minimal. The NBA is not like other businesses. I know you’re too stupid to grasp that; some of us are not, however.

  17. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    It’s because as much as we hate to admit it, it takes marketing and business savvy to make ANY product successful (see Apple).


    Nah. The NBA has a long socio-economic-geographic history behind it, which is really what the league is selling. That, and superstars. Again, if this POV were valid, the owners would be using replacement players. They’re not, and they’re not threatening to do so.

    • moth25 - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:24 PM

      I’m not really an NBA fan or follower (and before I am asked why I’m here, it’s because I love watching train wrecks as much as anyone else) so I don’t know the history of the league. I agree that it is superstars that sell this league, but how did these guys become superstars? Because of marketing and business savvy, provided by the league. Would many of us have heard of Jordan, Magic, Bird, et al if not for the business and marketing of the league? I’ll stand by my argument that if it were just about the superstars then the superstars would be able to make those exhibitions successful and wouldn’t need the league.

  18. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to the other guy – If you don’t actually care about the NBA, why the hell are you posting in this blog?


    I have thought about that as well. Kurt is a real, true NBA fan, so my guess is that he either doesn’t read a lot of the comments here or just laughs at them.

    My theory is that:

    1. The Lockout draws trolls who don’t actually like the NBA and just come to vent and hassle people.
    2. Since NBC doesn’t carry the NBA anymore, that means a lot of people who land on this site aren’t actually pro basketball fans.

    There is room for disagreement among fans about how the CBA should be, how much the players should give up from the last CBA, etc. But on a couple of other sites I go to, the whole tone and tenor is very different–and the knowledge base is a lot stronger.

  19. Fred - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Why not really put “free market” on the table? Let’s eliminate guaranteed contracts — except for stars who can bargain for them. But let’s also get rid of the draft, the salary cap, salary limits — floor and ceiling — and let’s allow the league and it’s owners to boot out poor owners and entice better ones. If this system doesn’t work, transfer of wealth isn’t the answer; we need a new system.

  20. yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    I’m glad that the owners have taken this stance! This new offer is a little different from the last offer and for the players it is not as good. Players such as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Duane Wade are trying to hijack this game and are delusional about the players role in the game of basketball. They really want to operate the league and become the face of the league. The players are becoming a cancer to the league. They state that the owners are only responsible for not making money for themselves due to bad contracts and bad marketing of their teams. The reality is that the league will only survive and have a sport if radical changes are made where all the owners can make a profit. It is not important for the players that they make tons of money, they want to control this game by calling themselves unique employees and calling the NBA a cartel. It is sad that some players and their posse’s are trying to make up believe that public opinion is in their corner by writing crap about the owners and David Stern, when in reality public opinion is really in the favor of the owners by a wide margin. The system has provided well for the players and they are more worried about how much money the owners make than by making the league better and more competitive.
    The players have made their own bed and every sport is different but you don’t see this kind of bickering among the players in any other sport. Some people here believe this sport is different than other sports. I find it sad when a guy who’s only skill in life is playing basketball tries to hijack and bite the hand that feeds them rather than embrace the system that provides for them. In no other corporation do you find employees that make the kind of money that the players do, want to take the organization over. Employees, and NBA players are nothing more than an employee, are W-4 wage employee. The owners take 100% of all the risk and deserve 100% of the reward. Even though the owners have offered 50% to the employees, the employees say it is not enough. Talk about player greed. I don’t even want to hear about the players giving back 5% because they have not given back anything. THe old contract was the old contract and when the owners were losing money the players didn’t give a damn and didn’t give back squat.
    This union is nothing more than another reason of what is wrong in America today. Guys making upward of 12 to 30 million and not happy with their paycheck and their pension.
    So you guys out there that are defending the players, you are either players, their friends or getting paid by the NBAPA to write this crap defending the players. I would rather see replacement players take over and you guys sit out and brood over your miscalculation about what the owners will do. Perhaps you should not take this deal, and see what the owners will do next! I know your ego’s are in the way of your thinking. You think that just because you can play a sport well because athletic that the world owes you. Well the world took care of you but their are limits and you never bite the hand that feeds you.

    • nelle - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:55 AM

      Is money the only thing by which you measure happiness and job satisfaction? Most studies indicate it isn’t a primary reason for job satisfaction. You have to like what you do and the environment in which you do it.

      You are giving owners a free pass to do as they wish, yet saying players must be restricted – why? Why must players have one hand tied behind their back?

      Take what you see here and apply it to your work – if you are an employee – and expect that if economic conditions remain as is for the foreseeable future, someone will be looking to curtail your benefits and your wages and maybe increase the hours your work.

      The players could actually attempt to form their own league here, and while they would take a huge hit on salaries initially, within ten years they would control the game and its revenue by cutting television deals and so on. The franchises of current owners would be worthless. Remember this game is all about what you see on the court, the skill of the players. That counts for something, because no matter how hard they might try, aside from Jordan, owners can’t play hoops.

      The union’s offer of 52% was more than enough concession to a deal. That there is not one is unreasonableness on the part of owners, not players, who agreed to reduce the split from 57-43 to 52-48.

  21. rferrel - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    The players should hold out til the season is canceled. Let them shop their wares overseas and let incoming players do the same until the NBA is the minor leagues. The best will still play. Then let David Stern become Bill Buckner walking in downtown Boston.

    • moth25 - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:28 PM

      Yeah, because those few that have gone overseas have been so successful. If these guys are willing to play for what overseas players make then they would have jumped at what the NBA is already offering.

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