It's official: The first two weeks of the NBA season are canceled. NBA commissioner David Stern announced the shutdown Monday night, after negotiations between the owners (who want a tougher salary cap, shorter contracts, and a greater share of the league's revenue) and players (who liked things just the way they were) came to a standstill. Does anyone win as this "clueless" lockout drags on? Here, a brief rundown:
The "easy answer" is that the players will be forced to concede first to the owners, says Henry Abbott at ESPN. Collectively, the players make two billion dollars per season. "In two-week chunks, until somebody caves, that's all gone." And don't expect the owners to back down, says Sam Mamudi at Market Watch. Studies show that historically, work stoppages have not kept sports fans away when games finally start up again. "The owners, knowing the fans will come back, can afford to wait until the players cave."
The NFL is looking pretty smart right now, says Tracee Hamilton at The Washington Post. The football league settled its lockout earlier this year without losing any games, holding itself up "as a model of all that is good and right." Everyone in the NBA looks selfish and stubborn by comparison.
With no end in sight to the NBA lockout, says Travis Hughes at SB Nation, this provides a "golden opportunity" for pro hockey. Traditionally, the two leagues fight for airtime, news coverage, and fan dollars throughout the winter. "Now is the time for NHL teams to capitalize on the absence of their biggest competitor."
Professional basketball was riding high after last year's "phenomenal" season, says Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle, with "rising attendance, ratings, and general buzz." Now, thanks to petty bickering, the two sides have taken a sledgehammer to that momentum, something the league will have a hard time winning back.
The NBA players stand to lose $350 million because of this two-week cancellation, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, says Hamilton. What they really are losing is their reputations, as they come off as selfish, greedy, and out of touch. The squabbling over a hard salary cap and luxury tax penalty is ridiculous. "Heaven forbid there would be a limit on how much teams pay — and overpay — for some of this NBA 'talent.'"
The bosses look petty, too, says Tom Ziller at SB Nation. Stern tried to make owners look like heroes by citing "concession after concession" that they'd offered. But those concessions were all on demands that owners had introduced in the first place. "This is like a 6-year-old demanding three cookies, a bowl of ice cream, and a bag of M&Ms," and then agreeing to concede the M&Ms. "It doesn't work that way." And that's not even to mention, of course, the hundred of millions of dollars owners will lose by scrapping the start of the season.
Hoops lovers need "the temporary escape an NBA game can provide," says Hamilton. Eliminating games so millionaires can argue over a "$4 billion pot of gold" is deplorable. Maybe fans will decide they've had enough and realize they "owe no further allegiance to a sport that shows so little regard for them."
The loss of these games hurts "workers with jobs dependent on pro basketball's six-month-plus season," says Kate Fagan at the Philadelphia Inquirer, as they're out a paycheck. Not only that, but a few NBA teams are already trimming their staffs as the lockout drags on, and "more layoffs could be forthcoming."
The threat of the season being postponed two weeks at a time keeps players from signing contracts in international leagues, as the NBA is requiring all international contracts to be written with an opt-out clause, in case the lockout ends, says Ziller. Only about five dozen of the 450 NBA players have signed international contracts because of that stipulation. Sorry, Italy!