The NBA season is slipping away…

November 9, 2011

Today is supposedly the deadline for the owners and players union to come to an agreement over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).  The talks have been going on, with the owners having made what is said to be their final offer.  The union side said they would like to negotiate some more on this final offer, and the league (aka David Stern) flat out told them that they accept this or else the owners will start making progressively worse offers as the season gets shorter and shorter, and the pool of money becomes smaller.  The players’ union did not take too kindly to this, and one of the lawyers even said that David Stern was running the players and the league like it was a “plantation.”  David Stern fired back in a brief war of words, the players union lawyer eventually made a public apology and called Stern to apologize in person.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in what seems to be a battle which is really becoming more and more malicious.  Players going after owners (Derek Fisher essentially said Michael Jordan should sell his team if he can’t make money), owners attacking players, players attacking each other, things seem to get worse with each moment.  Now, while Stern has said that they will not move away from the final offer, it has been reported that Stern does have the authority to tweak the deal somewhat.

Really, it would seem that with such a large pool of money at stake (literally billions of dollars for both the owners and players side), they have come down to arguing over about $100 million worth of difference.  Of course this is a large sum of money, but if this was split among players, it would be about $250,000 a player.  We are now entering the final hours before the league potential cancels more games (they are saying you can wave goodbye to the Christmas Day games now) and even just flat out cancel the entire season.

Many more players are said to be preparing to go play overseas as the situation is rather dire.

College Basketball may be the big winner out of all of this.  Everyone looking for their basketball fix will probably tune in to NCAA games, especially as the NCAA basketball season is ready to tip off this week.


The NBA Lockout is a mess

November 5, 2011

Today the owners and union reps will meet again to try and iron out the NBA collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and actually get the season started.  As discussed in previous posts this week, it seems that the chances of getting a deal done are quite small.  Things have been interesting, as it has been reported that Michael Jordan (now an owner) will lead the group of hardline owners who want a 50-50 split or nothing.  Which is opposite of Michael Jordan the player, who of course wanted the players to get a better deal.  It is quite amazing to see the case a single person, 23 years apart, being on opposite sides of the bargaining table in professional sport CBA talks.  It does also show us that in these CBA talks, both sides can have quite legitimate arguments for taking hardline stances… or maybe Michael Jordan is just that competitive, that he doesn’t even want to give small concessions in the CBA talks.

The union which seems to be having splits, is even having splits among the group that is causing the split.  A new article noted that the group that was threatening to decertify today actually did not fully support the decertification process.  Because they would need 30% of individuals to vote in order to start moving towards decertification, and they couldn’t even get 50 people to agree to it out of 400, it looks like the NBA players union may not decertify after all.  What does this mean?  Well, it could mean the chance of talks continuing to try and get a new CBA… but they can only last so long before the season just has to be canned.

Will the NBA close down for a year?

November 4, 2011

I’ll be honest, I don’t things are looking good for the NBA right now with their lockout situation.  As you can read in previous posts here at the IJSF blog, the NBA collective bargaining agreements (CBA) negotiations have been at a deadlock.  All indications from the talks that are going on today is that the owners are angry over having lost a lot of money, and that they want to make up this money by sticking to their guns and having a 50-50 revenue split with the players.  Included in this group of hardline owners is former NBA great himself, Michael Jordan who is now a franchise owner.

50 of the leagues 400 players are preparing to start the process of decertifying the union over the weekend if the talks are still stalled.  This would mean that the labor talks would basically be hitting an end, and the legal battle which would most likely follow, would probably end up canceling the season.

Of course, this is not the best scenario, so a federal mediator will be in the negotiation room on Saturday to try and help them work out a deal.

One interesting post I read was from ProBasketballTalk, which noted several hockey players talking about the NHL lockout and the regrets they had.  Players in this article discuss the lost wages and playing time, and how many of their careers were never the same after the lockout.

People are saying “get it done”, but it doesn’t look good for the NBA, and both sides are set to lose out on a lot of money.

Economic impact of the NBA Lockout?

November 4, 2011

There is always that question of the economic impact sport has, and the common answer given by economists is that there is little/no economic impact from sport on a region.  The research done in peer reviewed journals backs this up, and it has been something which has been discussed here any number of times.

Thus, I was pleased when I came across this post at NBC’s ProBasketballTalk blog today.  They note that there is no economic impact of the NBA lockout, as the discretionary income used to buy tickets will go to other goods and services in the community.  However, they do note a group that is hurting from the lockout, workers at Orlando’s Amway Center where the magic play.  The article states:

(Community Food & Outreach Center director, pastor Scott) George estimated that between 40 and 75 game-night workers have used the Community Food & Outreach Center’s services over the last few weeks. He said he’s unsure of the exact number because some game-night workers are afraid that if they say something, they might not be able to go back to their jobs when the lockout ends.

While this is less than ten percent of the workers for the Amway Center, and we don’t know how many of these workers already go to the Food and Outreach Center in the first place, it does highlight that it is the little guy/business that is often affected negatively by the lack of games.

I remember earlier this year THE SAME author at NBC’s ProBasketballTalk posted an article making the claim that the Lakers losing early in the playoffs would cost the Los Angeles economy $70 million.  This all traces deeper to the words of an economist, who actually notes that the loss could cost downtown business near the Staples Center around $70 million.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that LA is losing $70 million, but that the spending might be redistributed among other parts of the city/region.  Again, those who would be hurt would most likely be those business such as bars and restaurants that depend upon game traffic and large numbers of fans to help boost business.

I’m hoping that more of those in the media are paying more attention to what the academics have to say about economic impact and sport, though I’ll keep watching to see if NBC is keeping a new consistent message.

NBA Lockout Breakdown

November 3, 2011

Welcome to day 126 of the NBA lockout.

I feel a bit guilty about not having discussed the NBA lockout in greater depth, as I spent many posts discussing the NFL lockout.  The NFL lockout was settled in time for the season to begin on time, and while there seemed to be some bad blood between the players and the owners, the scope of the NFL lockout pales in comparison to the NBA lockout.

We are now several months into the lockout (the lockout is just over four months old) and the talks between players and owners hit a deadlock over splitting the revenue.  The owners want a 50-50 split of revenues, the players were willing to go as low as 52.5%, but have yet to say they will go any lower.  Not only has the talks between players and owners been heated, but some of the players have expressed anger at the union as well.  The big split seems to be between union head Billy Hunter and player rep Derek Fisher who seemed to have come to a disagreement over the revenue split.  It is reported that Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were pushing to accept the 50-50 split, and that Billy Hunter actually confronted Derek Fisher about this.  It came to the point where Derek Fisher had to bring in the lawyers and publicly make a statement that there is no split in the union.  Officially there is no issues in the union.

NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse came out and disagreed with this on ESPN Wednesday, he stated:

“Not to say anything against Derek Fisher, it’s not that I don’t think he’s a great guy,” Stackhouse said, “But I don’t want him negotiating my contract. I want an agent who knows the lingo negotiating my contract. Derek Fisher, he doesn’t negotiate his own contract. He has an agent. So why would I want him negotiating something even bigger than his contract? This [Collective Bargaining Agreement] is something more important to everybody…

“David Stern, he’s made this league what it is,” Stackhouse said. “He’s one of the greatest commissioners in sports. He’s got that title, he’s got the NBA at the place where it is because he’s a shrewd businessman and knows how to work his way, play the media, play things up to get what he wants. We don’t do that. Players are emotional. Players get emotional. So no, I don’t necessarily, particularly want Derek Fisher or any of the executive committee negotiating a contract for me.”

So clearly there is a rift in the NBA lockout, which would seem to give some more power to the owners.  The NBA is also trying out a new tactic in the labor agreements: Twitter.  The NBA has a twitter handle now dedicated to posting the ownerships point of view in the labor lockout.  One player (Nazr Mohammed) pointed out that the players can’t talk to coaches or workout at facilities, but the NBA can send them harassing messages about the lockout through twitter (though it is Mohammed’s choice to receive these messages as well).

The lockout has carried on so long to this point, that the league was forced to cancel games all the way through the end of November.  Each day that ticks by is another day lost, as realistically, to get players through camp and have the season ready to go would take about a month (30 days).  So while November is already cancelled, you can pretty much start ticking off the days in December.  The Christmas day NBA games are usually pretty popular, so I wonder if the the two sides might try to push for some resolution.  We know the season will already be shorter, and there is no way they can extend it with the 2012 London Olympics looming in the summer, I begin to wonder if there will even be an NBA season at this point.  While I have pointed out that the owners have stood strong, and there is fractions in the union, it is important to note that many NBA players are currently making money playing basketball overseas.  Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams began the exodus of NBA players by signing to play in Turkey, and slowly players have moved to teams all over Europe and China.  So while the NBA has suffered bad PR form this lockout, many overseas teams have had the bonus of having the services and star power of some NBA players on their team so far this season.  The NBA has always looked to try and build a bigger global brand, and it is curious to see whether this lockout causing players to go overseas may help/hurt the league trying to become even more popular overseas.

Yesterday, Chauncey Billups had some strong words trying to show the solidarity of the players.  Billups said he was willing to forgo his $14.3 million contract for this season and sit out the entire year to make sure that there is a fair Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place for the future.  Billups noted that fair means that it would be economically fair to the players.

NBA players are the highest paid players on average than any other professional sport league in the world.  Their salaries have been the big target point of this round of CBA negotiations, as the owners feel they are taking a big hit having to pay such high salaries.  At the same time, the high salaries and lower number of players in the league seem to have created a case where many of the players can actually afford to sit out a season, where NFL players were not able to.  The availability of leagues overseas providing another avenue for players to earn money for NBA players has been another factor which has probably caused the lockout to be so drawn out.  To be honest, the NBA players are in a much better situation for the NBA players, and seem to be willing to take a loss for the time being in order to get a fair contract.  Both sides are losing money, and right now it almost seems to be a game of chicken to see how will flinch first.

Also, I would like to point out this post about the lockout over at The Sports Economist, another great read and take on the lockout from University of Chicago economist Kevin Murphy.

City of Memphis contemplating suing the NBA over the lockout

October 20, 2011

The Memphis Grizzlies, the cities National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise, currently play at the FedEx Forum.  However, with the NBA currently locked out, and looking more and more likely that there is going to be a big cutback in the length of the season (or possible no season at all), the city of Memphis has started to worry.  The reason?  The FedEx Forum is actually paid for through revenues produced by the team.  However, if there is no team playing there, then that means the city will have to make the bond payments.  Fox Memphis say the City Council is estimating that these will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million.  Those who will have to bare the burden?  Most likely the local taxpayers.  Things are getting urgent, city councilwoman Julie Fullilove notes:

“Should this lockout stay until December, then there’s a very big bill there that the city of Memphis will be responsible for, and whether or not we file a lawsuit, which may set precedent among other cities in this nation, is something we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s only being proactive that’s he’s offering this resolution.”

So with less than a month and a half away from the deadline when Memphis will start having to cough up some cash to make bond payments, the city has started to look at the potential for a lawsuit against the NBA.  Curiously, when Fox Memphis talked to the individual in charge of the bond, he noted that there is currently a surplus in the account to pay the bond through 2028.  He  even notes that he is confused where the city got the idea that they needed to pay up $18 million soon, and that it would be the taxpayers who would have to pay it.

So there we have it, the City is thinking of suing the NBA for being locked out, claiming it will cost them part of the bond payment.  The guy in charge of bond payments says there is more than enough money for the next decade and a half.  The $18 million doesn’t seem to add up that the city would have to pay because of basketball not playing, as they only receive about $3.5 million a year currently from ticket sales and revenue.  I think this may just be a political powerplay to help the politicians in the city council to look good.  I don’t think it really will do much, and I doubt that they have much of a case against the NBA.  Case in point to this being about politics, the City Council Chairman noted:

“I want the citizens of Memphis to know that we are not sitting by idly, waiting for this to hit us and for us to say we’re sorry.”

Still, it would be curious to see if cities can take action over lost revenue because leagues do not play because of a lockout.  I wonder, would the city sue the players if the players were on strike?

Does an NFL Lockout increase crime?

May 22, 2011

Ray Lewis gave an interview to ESPN stating that he believes if the NFL lockout continues, it will lead to an increase in crime.  Ray Lewis, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, states:

Do this research if we don’t have a season — watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game,

I know everyone’s first thought is that Ray Lewis is hinting that if the NFL lockout continues, and players do not get paid, that many of the players will turn to a life of crime to help pay the bills.  However, Lewis is really not indicated that the players will turn to crime, but rather the people who depend on the players and owners for a job and/or some type of financial backing.  Lewis continues:

There’s too many people that live through us, people live through us,… Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.

It seems that Lewis is really point towards the “hanger-on’s” and “posse’s” that many NFL players have, as well as other dependents who live in poor financial conditions.  It is known there are a number of athletes who do have such groups, but I wonder if having a lockout would really increase the crime rate.  Lewis does end noting that the two sides (the owners and NFL players) need to get back to the negotiating table and get a deal done, as he knows many people who are hurting from the lockout.

On another thought, I wonder if the lack of NFL to watch on Sunday’s and Monday night’s in the Fall could lead to an increase in crime rate because of individuals having “nothing” to do.  Instead of sitting at home and watching games, some people might instead go out looking for something else to do, and in some cases this could lead to crime.  I don’t think that this would hold true in all communities, and I’m not suggesting there is going to be a national crime wave (I believe Ray Lewis is not suggesting this either), but there are probably some communities that could be affected if the NFL is in lockout.

Of course, all of this could be a great tactic by Ray Lewis to get into the negotiations between the owners and players.  He hasn’t been part of any of the negotiations, but has been hinting that he wants to be part of the talks.  Either way you take it, Ray Lewis always makes good headlines.