Bargaining for What?

Posted by By at 8 June, at 00 : 30 AM Print

Bargaining for What?

With the NBA Finals heading into Game 4 this evening in Dallas, the excitement and ratings (highest in the last 7 years) is at a fever pitch. It has turned out to be both the NBA and David Stern’s dream come true with the Mavericks battling it out with the Heat. With some of the NBA’s finest playing in this series, it’s no wonder fan interest is so high.

Or maybe, just maybe it’s desperation. Maybe fans realize that there is the potential for a lockout on the horizon and they want as much NBA action as possible. I know for me personally that’s a big part of it. We sit just a few short weeks away from the June 30th deadline of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the League and Players Association and from what’s been publicized up to now; no deal is even close to being agreed upon. It’s not like this is new to fans. There has been rumblings about a league stoppage for over a year and throughout this entire season we have heard about how far apart David Stern and Billy Hunter have been.

So what seems to be the problem here? The heart of the problem is that NBA Owner’s want to ensure they minimize their potential loss while placing a stronger cap (control if you will) on Player salaries and contract lengths. Players on the other hand are happy with the way the current agreement is set (Players receive 51% of total basketball related income). The issue for the owners is that when teams spend money to promote and grow the franchise both from a ticket sales perspective and growth within their respective cities the money comes out of their 49%. Players on the other hand, never have their 51% touched. This is why players like Jermaine O’Neal, Eddy Curry and Tracy McGrady can have such lengthy and enormous contracts.

Now, I am not saying that I take the side of the owners. Players are being paid what they are and have been because of their talent. Some deserve their salaries (from a sports salary scale perspective) such as Lebron James and Dwight Howard. While others are a part of the reason the league is in such disarray. Great examples of players that are over-paid for talent are Rashard Lewis (over $20 Million per season), Kenyon Martin (Over $15 Million per season) and Michael Redd (Over $18 Million per season) just to name a few. Now, at the time these contracts were signed, these players were premium performers who ‘may’ have deserved large salaries, but look how the cookie has crumbled. These are under-achieving players who either are not playing anywhere close to the way they did when the contracts were signed, or they haven’t even played due to injury. This is the best and strongest case the Owners have for a hard Salary Cap. Limiting Player salaries and length of contracts will enable teams to better manage their team budgets and maximize on team profits. When teams started over paying for mid-talent players (See Drew Gooden) it opened up the door for major financial ramifications for smaller market teams in the league that can’t afford to keep up with the Joneses’.

This being said, I am a firm believer that if a player has earned their contract, than they are deserved of all the benefits that come with it ($$$). Professional sports leagues have seen salaries sky-rocket and the NBA should be treated no differently as other leagues. If a Players talent is rewarded by a team with an enormous contract, than so be it. Let a player earn big dollars. Kobe Bryant earns over $24 Million a season. How can I in good faith argue that he is over paid? He is a Champion. He has made the Lakers a Champion and they are one of the best teams in the league. So to Jerry Buss and the Lakers organization, he is worth every penny. There are lots of other examples of players who can have the same thing said for them, and I firmly believe that they should be rewarded for their contributions to their team, the league and to the NBA Globally.

But here’s the problem. This is why it looks more and more like a lockout is imminent. Who is right, and who is wrong? In the leagues eyes, they are protecting the team owners and ensuring we don’t see any more Seattle Supersonics or Vancouver Grizzlies in the league. In the Player’s eyes, they want their money and they want as much of it for as long as they can get it for.

Both sides are right…in their own eyes and someone is going to have to budge a little. Will it be the Players or will it be the Owners?

And for this, I hope that the two sides look at each other and realize what is at stake here. Baseball still to this day has yet to receive the attendance numbers and fan support due to the strike they had back in 1994-1995.

Hopefully the NBA has learned from the past!

Whatever ends up being the net result, there can only be one loser in this if a lockout occurs…

The Fans.

That and only that is what we are bargaining for.

The Bowse's Word

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