By the time this issue hits the newsstands,(or the sports blog) we will know if we will have NBA basketball for Christmas. Tuesday is the deadline set by NBA Commissioner David Stern for cancelling all games up to Christmas day if the Owners and NBA Players Association do not agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). After opening the gifts, going to church, and eating dinner, I love sitting down and watching a great NBA match up on Christmas night. Well it appears that might not happen this year.
Despite several concessions on both sides, the Players and Owners are still miles apart. The Owners want a 50-50 split as far as revenue sharing is concerned, down from the existing 57-43 split in favor of the Players. The Owners gave up their request to eliminate the guaranteed contracts. Some estimate that the teams would lose hundreds of millions by losing the first two weeks of the season, which is already set in stone, and Hunter said the players would lose more than $350 million for every month that they lose games. The Players have agreed to lower the revenue split to 53-47 percent. Now you might say what is the difference between 53 and 50 percent? Well, we are talking about a billion dollars a year. The money is one major concern, but the rhetoric is another.
Commissioner David Stern has basically called NBA Player Association Executive Director Billy Hunter a liar in so many words. Stern is indicating that Hunter is basically putting out lies through the media to sway the public in favor of the Players. It is getting ugly and does not appear to be getting better anytime soon.
Now Federal Mediator George Cohen will lend a hand in bringing the two sides together. If Cohen’s name sounds familiar, it should. He is the mediator that helped end the NFL lockout this summer. He met with both sides on Monday separately and then got together with the feuding parties in the same room on Tuesday. The results of that meeting will go a long way in determining if there will be any games played in the 2011 calendar year.
I spoke to five NBA Players and three NBA executives over the summer and they were not overly optimistic about reaching an agreement. All five players stated that they were looking at opportunities to play overseas. One even indicated that he was planning to go back to complete his degree.
I have heard some indicate that they believe that the Players will cave in once they start missing paychecks. The Players refute that. We will see. All I care about is seeing my NBA this winter. I hope the two sides can get it together so that I can watch a game on Christmas Day as I eat my pumpkin pie.