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Why the owners should be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the 49-51 band offer.

Nov 6, 2011, 10:57 PM EDT

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

First, some basics.

During Saturday’s talks, following a talking-points suggestion from George Cohen, the NBA offered a BRI band of 49-51. So if revenues underperform certain levels, the players would receive 49 percent. If they hit acceptable levels (considered by most to be 4 percent growth), both sides would split 50/50. And if things went insanely well (reportedly 20 percent growth which is insane), the players would get 51 percent. Ken Berger reports that in fact, players would get 57 percent of that 51th percent, but that’s getting really complicated, so let’s stick with the basics.

Now, the players rejected the offer outright for a number of reasons. The systemic changes were severe enough for them to resist such an offer. The thresholds were too high for the levels. But instead, let’s consider what the owners did here.

With the players holding at 52 percent, and the owners essentially throwing them a sham offer for 51, it looks like a compromise without being one. OK, that’s par for the course. But if you’ve got a band offer, why not make it 49-52? or 48-52? or 46-52? Any of those band proposals would give the players a public relations pickle. “They gave you 52, what more do you want?!” the uninformed public would cry. It would be seen as a concession, a move towards a deal. You’re not actually giving anything up.

So why not offer that? Yes it puts too much on the table so the players could negotiate the thresholds up. But let’s be honest, that’s not happening, and the owners know it. They’re more than aware of how much power they have. That’s why they held it at 51 percent. Because it’s one percent below what the players said they would hold at. The only way this would be more blatant is if the owners offered a band of 49-51.99999999999999999999999999. It’s a deliberate effort to not only say “we’re going to get what we want, and we’re willing to insult you on the way to taking what we want.”

That’s been the whole problem here. It’s not “the owners are going to win.” They’ve already won. They’ve gotten system concessions. They’ve gotten the players to drop from 57 to 54 to 53 where they said they would not drop from, to 52. They’ve already got what they want. But it’s not enough. The popular analogy has been that it’s not about the win with the owners, it’s the margin of victory. This isn’t even about margin of victory. This is about taunting and doing a dance on your way to the endzone. It’s T.O. dancing on the star. It’s A.I. stepping over his opponent after the three. It’s an assault on more than the players’ earning potential and power, it’s about hitting them in the crotch of their dignity, then taking a photo of it, then posting it on the internet.

They could still make the same one-sided offer they have the whole time while giving the players an out. They’re not even willing to insult the players by patronizing them.

Maybe M.J. is as involved as reports say he is.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    No, it’s about the money. It’s about keeping many of the teams that have been losing money from continuing to lose money. It’s not about dancing or taking pictures or anything like that. It’s a business decision to keep the BRI split at 50/50. Plain and simple. It’s a business decision to get the system concessions they are looking for. Plain and simple. You may think the owners are being greedy, but the fact is that they aren’t in this to make friends or anything like that. They aren’t in it to embarrass anybody or get “total conquest” as you PBT guys like to hyperbolize about. No, it’s strictly business. Period.

    This particular article is complete 100% baseless nonsense.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 7, 2011 at 7:51 AM

      You expected something else other then baseless nonsense on PBT? I will give them credit for one thing, they have at least stopped trying to hide their clear player slanted biases. At least they are owning it. Counts for something.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

        good doctor, at least PBT is usually just stating facts and their opinions on those facts. Look, there are two sides to this…either you think the players should take the 50/50 split or you think they should stand firm. What this article does is makes up a fantasy about a third thing…that there are owners who aren’t in it for the money….they are in it to hurt the player’s dignity. And that is where this article is just plain ludicrous. The owners are ruthless businessmen, and whether you think they are right or wrong, they are doing this for one reason…money. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business. Period. Calling it anything more is just making $hit up. Be on the player’s side because you think they are right…not because you think they are being personally affronted in this negotiation.

      • jjstrokes - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        Do you guys even know what an opinion piece is? We knew the article was going to biased bf the link was clicked, just read a Headline!…. & sometimes in business things DO get personal. I’ve seen it from both previous employers & fellow co-workers. I’ve seen some people do some crazy things over money. Just bc these guys are billionaires doesn’t make them immune to holding grudges. I don’t think it’s irrational to imply that owner’s tactics are borderline vengeful. I still haven’t heard Billy Hunter directly say he ever thought Derek Fisher made a secret deal w/ the NBA. You don’t think it’s possible that the Owners leaked that information?… Regardless, the Owners still have done their best to make the players look like Greedy Morons. If I were a player, especially rank-&-file, I’d be taking it personally, very.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        jj, just because the owners will not compromise on the 50/50 BRI split does not mean they are being vengefulto the players. Just because they do not want to even hint at a 48-52 band doesn’t mean they are trying to hurt the player’s dignity. That’s all I am saying. If you think the owners are evil businessmen who only want more money, that’s fine. That is an opinion built on facts. The owners want more money. Call it greedy all you want. I disagree, but at least you are talking from a position of fact.

        To say that because the owners wouldn’t include 52 as the high-end of the band they are trying to stomp on the player’s dignity is just stupid. It is not based on any facts. It is pure supposition and it doesn’t belong in the discussion.

    • rreducla1 - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      No, it’s about the money. It’s about keeping many of the teams that have been losing money from continuing to lose money.


      Then how come they are not prioritizing revenue sharing, big guy?

      Again: the NFL has a fully national TV contact that is split among all the teams–the only league that does. The NBA doesn’t, can’t, and some teams, like Boston and LAL and NYK have gargantuan local TV deals, that dwarf those in places like OKC and Toronto.

      So, the simplest way to ensure profitability for small-market teams is to work that out and then to have reached a deal with the players for the good of the league.

      The owners aren’t doing that.

      You lose.

  2. dadawg77 - Nov 6, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    But couldnt this cone back to bite the owners? They basically gave the players two choices take the deal or desertification. Which could lead the NBA could lose nine billion and have a system that has no cap, no tax. Under the deal offered it seems like the owners get more of a benefit then the players from having an union, so why have one?

  3. richsaint - Nov 7, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    The thing is, assuming the reported numbers are true (and the players dont seem to be disputing them) and 22 teams are going to lose money this year then by basically shutting down operations they will more than likely lose less or no money. So for these 22 owners its not an idea of losing they 43-49% of 4b because they have costs that often exceed their share.

    The damage of a lost season to the majority of owners is what they dont lose as much money as if they played?
    The damage to the players though? They lose the 49-57% they are supposed to make. The owners may be able to make their money back, and worst case scenario for them, they lose money again next year, the players will never see that 2billionish dollars again.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 7, 2011 at 2:20 AM

      To me, the real stupidity is how they are shrinking the pie of what they are fighting for my missing all these games. There will be less revenue to split.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 7, 2011 at 7:53 AM

        Yeah, but if it brings about a system that is economically sustainable then it is worth it to the owners. I can’t believe I am going to say this but Bill Simmons actually wrote a decent piece on this situation about two years ago. I will see if I can find it.

  4. flyerscup2010 - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    watching the way this is going down is really disheartening. with the NFL, it was annoying more than anything because it was a constant PR battle more than anything else, and while the owners were being very stubborn in negotiations, they weren’t being this brash. in both cases, the owners seemed to want to have their cake and eat it too. but in the NBA’s case, the owners just seem really adamant about trying to step on the players’ throats and then gloat about it. the NFL owners just wanted to step on their throats as stealthily as they could while saving face.

    for instance, the owners in the NFL would make a sham offer similar to the sham 52% offer you proposed and then would launch a PR attack to sway the public against them. “we’re giving them a chance to get their number, why aren’t they accepting it?” in the NBA, they make a point of going one step lower with a sham 51% that’s lower than a concession that was already made that the players are holding at. “no, your number isnt good enough, we’re gonna sort of but not really give you a chance to get something close to it but either you come down more or we’re gonna drag this thing out.”

    not intended to be biased, just intended to be an observation of comparison. whether you’re for or against whomever, the tactics simply are what they are.

  5. leearmon - Nov 7, 2011 at 2:01 AM

    I agree. I dont have a horse in this race at all, but it just seems , and its been reported, that some owners maybe more than some, would rather see a lost season. I know many of the owners in the NBA also have NHL teams, and the logic is “It worked for us in the NHL, it will work for us here too”. If thats the case its a shame. They are playing russian roulette with the game that many people love very dearly. The NBA just came off of one of its most successful seasons in recent history, and now this? As business men that doesnt seem very wise. If they do lose one or two seasons because of 1 percentage point, how much money do they really think they will make when no one goes to their arena to watch the games?

    Honestly, I just hope Turner, Disney whoever just signs a contract with some European league to broadcast those games, because it looks like thats going to be the only type of pro ball being played.

  6. david8726 - Nov 7, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    They’re definitely looking to pile on at this point.

    Dan LeBetard wrote an article that had a lot of truth to it, I think. He made the case that for a lot of the owners, this is about putting the players “back in their place” as they see it. It’s about payback for last summer.

    Thanks to free agency, players like LeBron, Bosh, and Carmelo all wielded more power than players have ever had before. They had the owners groveling at their feet, begging them to want to be part of their team. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul appear to be on the road to doing the same thing.

    The owners didn’t like feeling like they were in a position of weakness over the last year. They took it personal, and this lockout is their way of getting revenge while setting things up to make it harder for players to have power in the future.

    • flyerscup2010 - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:35 AM

      it felt like that with the NFL too though. in fact, felt isn’t the right word. jerry richardson explicitly said “it’s time to take our league back” indicating that they lost it at some point. they were being about as immovable initially as the NBA owners seem to be right now, but i think the more moderate owners like mara/rooneys/hunt/lurie eventually dragged the hardliners like richardson/wilf/snyder/jones into a deal. my hopes aren’t as high this time because while in the NFL there was a small group of hardliners who had vocal power but not a real majority among the owners, in the NBA situation I do feel like there’s more of a hardline sentiment than a moderate sentiment among the owners, and as a result i’m really not confident that a compromise among THEMSELVES is coming any time soon let alone a compromise with the union.

    • flyerscup2010 - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      for what it’s worth, the NHL lockout very much felt the opposite. in that case, things needed to be reorganized dramatically and a salary cap needed to be put in place and the rules themselves needed to be brought into the 21st century as well. the players seemed singularly interested in not giving any concessions back to the owners and after missing a full season they ended up with a deal giving them 57.6% if i recall correctly of all HRI. the salary cap initially came in at ~$39 million (after a take it or leave it offer that would have put a cap in at ~$55 million before the entire season was canceled), and 5 years later it has risen to ~$64 million, so things turned out ok given the success of the winter classic and the huge tv deal they just signed with NBC. but in that case it felt like the owners had no choice but to hold out for the deal that eventually came because they literally couldn’t afford anything less. the players didn’t want a cap and didn’t really want anything less than 60% of HRI, and eventually had to come down for the sake of not losing a second season (because if you recall, the deal finally came in like august or september right before the next season started).

      i think this lockout will end the same way. neither side can afford to lose two seasons, and a resolution will need to come to avoid that. it’ll come down to next september or october, bet it.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      Well, Dan LeBetard said must be true. LOL. He’s as big a tool for the players as anybody on PBT. You guys just don’t get it. It’s all about the money. It’s not personal…it’s business.

      • david8726 - Nov 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        So, anyone who thinks the owners are in the wrong on this is a “tool for the players” in your mind?

      • david8726 - Nov 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Oh, and you have your head in the sand if you don’t think this lockout is personal for someone like Dan Gilbert.

  7. savocabol1 - Nov 7, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    It’s official, this site has become unbearable with your bias towards the players. This used to be a nice refreshing site to come on. Not that it matters or anyone should care, but I’m done with this site.

    • flyerscup2010 - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:31 AM

      ok, later brah

    • jjstrokes - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      good riddance

  8. hail2tharedskins - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    I know that the author is biased toward the players, but in writing this critcal piece about the owners he is actually making the players look really petty and stupid. His ascertion is that the owners could have made the almost unreachable high-end of the band 52 and allowed the players to publically save face and accept the deal. Really? With as many people’s lives and careers at stake the union rejected this deal because it couldn’t get a public relations win??? They’ve already lost the economic and system battle, but they are holding out for a public relations win??? Not even the union is that stupid or petty, if the union leadership where inclined to accept a deal with a bone of an almost unreachable high-end of 52 so they could claim a victory in public for holding at 52, you can bet that there are smart enough people at the negotiating table for the union that they would have made that counter proposal and this would be over (the owners don’t really care what the high-end number is as long its almost impossible to reach and if it is reached it is because revenues have skyrocketing).

  9. johnmarshall09 - Nov 7, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Micheal Jordan need to sit down and think a great player that he was is sad

  10. rreducla1 - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    You guys just don’t get it.


    They are way, way ahead of you, partner.

    It’s pretty simple. The stuff about how “the last CBA doesn’t matter” is BS, Anybody, like you, making that argument, is just pimping for the owners. If that were true, the owners would have stayed at 37-63 and cancelled the season in July. So the last CBA does matter.

    The players have made a lot of givebacks. The owners want even more,. If you are in favor of that, that’s OK, but save the lectures and the insults and just admit that’s what you want. There is no real reason to want that; other than “I like it that way.” it’s just an emotional thing, with you and with a lot of guys here as tons of posts here every day show.

    If the players were insisting on 57, I am sure Moore and Helin

  11. rreducla1 - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    would criticize them.

  12. rreducla1 - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    To me, the real stupidity is how they are shrinking the pie of what they are fighting for my missing all these games. There will be less revenue to split.


    The deal will be in place for sevral years and will be Point A on the next CBA. I would undertsand of the players just caved, but I also understand why they wouldn’t.

    Also: the players just got a big escrow payment, and common sense dictates that there are several owners: Gilbert, Sarver, Prokhorov, Jordan–who would PREFER to tank the season, based on their rosters and other factors.

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