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Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  62 responses

Players vs Owners: Prepare for War

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

For months now, it’s been no secret that NBA team owners — men stinging from the loss of millions in revenue in the wake of the global economic crisis — were coming for the jugular in the upcoming labor negotiations with the players. A picture of exactly what it is that they want has begun to paint itself.

Let’s just say that things aren’t looking very promising for Billy Hunter and the people he represents. CBS Sports broke the story of the owners’ initial salvo into the battle:

The proposal, sent to the union earlier this week, seeks a reduction in the players’ share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to well below 50 percent, according to a person familiar with the document. Owners also are seeking some elements of a hard cap — a departure from the current luxury-tax system — and a reduction in the length and amount of max contracts.

Owners and players will meet in Dallas during All-Star weekend for their first face-to-face bargaining session as they try to reach an agreement before the current deal expires in 2011. The talks coincide with the NFL’s labor negotiation, in which owners have proposed an 18 percent pay cut for players.

Everyone seems to be in agreement that the players are basically screwed here; even with the growing possibility of a lockout in the 2011-12 season, the Union will have little choice but to agree to the owners’ demands.

For now, however, it’s time for some tough talk from the players. Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel, here’s Adonal Foyle (of all people):

Orlando Magic center and NBA Players Association first vice president Adonal Foyle on Sunday labeled owners’ newest collective bargaining agreement offer “unfair” and said the owners’ proposed salary rollbacks have mobilized and united the league’s players.

“I think doing that is probably the fatal flaw, because if there is one way to unite the entire NBA against a single thing it would be to go after everybody,” Foyle said. “I think what this proposal has done has done us a favor. It has basically mobilized all our players. Guys are calling. Guys what to know what’s happening and they want to get involved.

So, I am in a way happy that they [the owners] did what they did, because I think now they have awakened not only the players who have been constantly involved in these kinds of negotiations, but they’ve awakened the guys that would have been on the outside looking in.”

The fight is on.

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  • Buschfire

    aww poor NBA players instead of getting 10 million they will only get 8 million boo hoo.

  • Justin

    The players have been getting paid a ridiculous amount of money for a long time now and it’s time for them to start to give back a little bit. As usual, the opening offer from the owners is going to be a lowball offer. They’re probably looking for 48-52% in reality. Either way, the players are going to end up losing a little bit

  • http://. michael scorn

    These NBA players have family to feed. On the bright side, if there is a lockout, that will be one less championship opportunity for Lebron

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    You people are blind. Boo hoo poor NBA players? What other employees allow their pay to be capped so their owners can save money? I mean, we’re dealing with incredibly unique situations here.
    I’m really shocked about some of this. How the hell is taking away veteran and midlevel exceptions going to help anything? Doesn’t that get teams around the cap?

  • cramzy

    you can’t blame the players for these deals, especially when gm’s are willing to pay a guy that goes for 10 and 8 in one year out 5, 50 mil over 5 years.Is it Eddy Curry or Eric Dampier fault they getting payed like that? Teams need to be smarter with $$$$… but i guess that prospect of overpaying Charlie Villaneuva is too good to pass up.

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    NBA players are paid millions to play basketball. I would take minimum wage. As much as I love the nba, I know that most dudes wouldn’t play ball if they didn’t make the L. Its sad, I know nba is a business but basketball is a game.

  • http://www.behindtheb.blogspot.com Sam Raphael Chadwick

    Players should just take a cut and worry about a championship its too much about money now

  • Chris

    I doubt there are many employees out there who would willingly take paycuts to save money for their companies’ owners so why should nba players do the same. Sure, 10 million per year to 8 million may not matter that much to a high paid player, but I’d rather the player give that 2 million to charity or his children than to a even more wealthy nba owner

  • http://basketscenen.se/nbaswe/ Viktor

    How come everybody is saying that the players should take some less money, when they aren’t even close to what the owners are making? If there is some people in this world that could use some less money, it’s the kind of mega-capitalist multi-billionaires that own NBA teams. They are probably far more greedy than any player in the league (except maybe Kobe). It’s too much about money now, just as it has always been.

  • Joe A

    I think some perspective is needed here. NBA players are grossly over-payed, however, I’d rather see this money go to the players instead of the Donald Sterlings’ and Clay Bennetts’ of the world.

  • bambé

    well I remember the 99 lock out and it was a looong and boring winter….

  • Buschfire

    I was sarcastic, fine the situation is difficult for the players, but the PRO Sports are a unique situation…if they were making minimum wage fine…but they make millions upon millions of dollers… like seriously overpayed….like all Pro sports.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    The owners biggest issue is really themselves, not the players. Some owners are willing to spend while other owners aren’t. A hard salary cap is really the only way to gain parity in the L. If any owner wanted to just not pay the big bucks, then they don’t have to (regardless of the salary cap). However it’s the other teams that are either more profitable or just will to pay that will then get the top talent. If all the owners just decided they won’t go over a certain spending limit, then the bargaining agreement just doesn’t matter – assuming there is no minimal salary/percentage you must pay. However, the owners agreeing to somthing like this is highly unlikely and in my view the real issue. I can’t fault the players for not wanting to take pay cuts or wanting a bigger portion of the pie. Both sides could be called “greedy” or “fair” depending on where you stand.

  • tavoris

    people are complaining about the players making money. Aren’t the owners making CONSIDERABLY more while not providing any entertainment value?

  • Hornet

    Mannnnn…..If i was to be payed for playing basketball for 1 million for 2-3 years i would run may a@# up and down that court like a rocket.
    Think about it one bit: getting payed millions for doing what you like!!!

  • ThaWindy

    I get tired of people saying just because NBA player make so much they should take any Sh** the league dishes out.

    The reason why NBA players get paid..is because they work for a multi-billion dollar organization! IN which the majority of the profits are generated be them entertaining us. If player didnt make millions, would we say the NBA was exploiting players.

    We dont play in the NBA, so we have no idea what it is like to be a NBA player. The player union is there for a reason. To protect the players from the greed and of the NBA. Not to inforce players greed. To make thing as fair as possible.

  • Cizzo

    The majority of the NBA players are overpayed, these people got to check the global economic crisis thats in effect, and they got to see things from the owner’s perpective they’re loosing profits. I’m deffinately sure that not one owner is in this business not to make money so for the sake of the game I hope they can figure something out!

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    tavoris the majority of owners in the league lose money every year. last year only (this may be off by a little its been awhile since i saw the number) 6 teams profited.

  • ben2424

    they should just have big bonuses for players who have productive years and lower the annual salary…

  • dw24

    I don’t understand. You’re getting payed to play basketball. Quit being a bunch of “thugs” and acting like fools spending your money on tricked out cars and luxury homes. Give back instead like the old superstars did and live like a normal person. Egos. Wow.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    the old superstars lived the same way. every one of you who acts like you wouldn’t spend your money on luxuries is a moron. plus NBA players have the right to be overpaid, just as long as people are willing to pay for overpriced tickets. Its not like we go to watch the owners

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    I wouldn’t mind getting paid the minimum to play the game I love/sit on the bench.

  • rob

    Man the players get millions, c’mon I mean, playing the game you love and getting paid for it is already a dream situation. The majority of them seem to forget where their parents came from. Do you think really think you deserve those millions???

  • JoeMaMa

    Some owner decided to pay player x millions. When Spreewell held out for more money, he didn’t get paid. So you can’t blame the players for asking and taking the money. Also, the agents are the ones who grab teams by the balls. The players say “make me some money” and the agents do whatever they can for their 4% and a rep.
    Having said that, the owners will win this one…again. Most teams will benefit from a year off, so they’ll just wait until the players get antsy, which, like the NHL, really kicks in after a season off. Hopefully the players realize that and accept the terms.
    The real winners here are the Euro teams. They’ll get lots of talent at a decent price in the down year and the game grow even more with the influx of some potentially BIG names.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    It’s amazing how NBA owners have been able to cast themselves as paupers, and convince the general public to believe that.
    Question, are the owners going to scrap all of THEIR existing contracts with other entities and roll them back in order to provide savings during the economic recession?
    Will ESPN be receiving a price break? TNT? Reebok? All the local television channels that pay teams for the rights to broadcast games?
    Of course not. The owners will not be scrapping contracts because contracts are binding documents. They will not be slashing their profits, but they have convinced the public that players should slash theirs.
    If you have a union strong enough to fight pay reductions, I say fight them. Most folks don’t have a choice, but if we did, we would not go along with cost cutting.
    But it still makes me laugh how the owners, who are the really rich ones, can convince everbody to go against the players. That’s an amazing trick.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    NBK
    Most owners don’t lose money. Even those who operate their teams at loss, are given payments by the League because of the television contracts and luxury tax rules. And operating your team at a loss is a sign of bad business management.
    It’s a proven fact that if your team wins game, you sell tickets. If they don’t win, you don’t. Your ability to be profitable is tied to your ability to make sound basketball decisions. Apparently the owners are trying to pass along their responsibility to the players.
    Laughable.

  • JoeMaMa

    Allenp, it should be noted that the Clippers have almost always made money becaues of their penny pinching ways. And they never win.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    if you are the top 1% at whatever field that you are in, you deserve to get paid an obscene amount. the only difference pro athletes can’t hated on for the salary is because they are public information. would you go to your local investment bankers and protest how much they make if you know he makes millions too? oh i don’t see anyone scrutinizing how much money Lady GaGa or Black Eyed Peas are making. They are also entertainers who love what they do, no?

  • Statik

    Allenp hit the nail on the head, besides how many of us would be willing after years of busting our @ss to become one of the top in our said profession would allow any owner to declare we should take a cut because he wants to cut back on how much its costing him, while he still gets his and then some? Sure NBA players are paid a lot, but as so many of you are so righteous to point out, its still a job that they spend countless hours to keep in order to entertain us and make these owners richer, and we blame them for their selfishness when they’re simply taking advantage of the option thats been held out to them. The players will have to take a cut, the owners will not, and even when the economy is back on track they will once again find something to justify making themselves richer while taking away from the players or charging us more to watch them

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    JoeMama
    Yeah, Donald Sterling has turned a profit every year he’s owned the team. You can make money even if you don’t win, but the must surefure way to make money is to win. If you make decisions that make it difficult for you to win, and thus make it hard for you to make money, then they fault is yours. For example, New Orleans is one of the poorest cities in the country, but Tom Benson is making money hand over fist right now.
    Albie
    I made the same point in another post. People rarely tell actors they need to take a pay cut because studios are struggling. Why is that? I have my suspicions.

  • JoeMaMa

    albie, for the record, I spend a few minutes each day sobbing quietly at the fact that lady gaga and the black eyed peas haven’t yet been mercy killed.

  • tavoris

    @Allenp-thank you. I’m having a case of the Mondays, and really didn’t want to go further into this.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    The owners are not making as much money as they once were and rightfully are trying to regain some of the profitablity they’ve been paying employees. I don’t have a problem with owners doing this. Nor do I have a problem with employees fighting to get a pay raise etc. When one contract expires it’s time to negotiate a new one. Television, player contracts and labor agreements etc. all come to a point where they need to be negotiated. The players are well paid, but considering the rarity of the talent and the amount of money they generate, I don’t think they are overpaid. But, this is what negotiation is all about.

  • JoeMaMa

    The last time, the owners got what they wanted. It’ll happen this time. Whether or not it’s right, can we all agree that it’ll be an owner-friendly conclusion? The lockout will happen…and the NBA will eventually resume. And the players won’t get what they want. Guaranteed.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    oh word, my bad allen. and everyone who read my falsified comments. mis understood what losing money means for a franchise compared to an owner

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    @Allenp: i wanted to credit you for bringing up that top 1% getting mad paper thing too, actually. it’s more than on point.
    @JoeMaMa: those clowns used to be legit and talented musicians (check out BEP’s old albums “Behind the Front” & “Bridging the Gap”, aka Before Fergie Happened). i blame the general public for making the pop culture stupid, and artists literally have to dumb things down (or make themselves outrageous) to get paper and wide recognition. it’s the stupid world we live in.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    Allenp: many of your comments seem based on those suspicions, right? Not just this topic.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Michael
    Aren’t your comments based on your worldview? Or do you just pull your comments from the ether?
    The question is, are my comments reasonable, knowledgable and fair? If they are, maybe it’s time to examine my suspicions.

  • UnRel

    we can all say.. ‘stop crying and take pay cuts cause they make millions of dollars’.. you have to look at everything in a bigger light.. it’s a little different than an overpaid co-worker 3 cubicles down from you.. players are making X dollars for the team’s organization.. they’re the ones away from family.. practicing every day.. shattering knees and getting surgeries.. while the owners try to profit from it all.. and the union isn’t fighting for the million dollar superstars.. they’re fighting for everyone.. so if kobe/bron has to take a pay cut… then so does dj mmbenga.. a player that who would take a multiple, non-paid game suspension for going into the stands when his coach’s (avery johnson) wife was being harrassed.. so, yes.. some players might be ‘greedy’.. but not all.. whereas it would be safe that ‘all’ team owners are greedy..

  • LA Huey

    I’m not feeling sorry for any pro athletes but you all saying things about how you would play for much less need to stop being such simpletons. On a more constructive note, I do think they need to do something about how guaranteed these contracts work. Also, these GMs need to stop rewarding dudes for “contact year” performances.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    La Huey
    This is just like the age limit. Yes, only one NBA team can win a championship, but you don’t have to win a championship to sell tickets and make money. You have to manage your team wisely.
    The owners are angling for more money, which is fine, it’s a business. I just despise how these discussion turn into gripe fests by fans about how much money athletes make, while the owners get a free pass. It’s ridiculous. You’re fighting for the right of a corporation to pay it’s employees less so the owners and CEOs can make more money.
    Everybody who is a worker should understand how silly that is.

  • tavoris

    ^hate to bring it up, but that’s fueled by envy.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    co sign allenp. people who complain about how much the players make, and how theyd take the minimum to ride the bench are dumb. youre not good enough to ride the bench in d3 let alone the nba. the owners are the tricksters here. it is quite odd how somehow they get everyone to hop on the “players get paid millions to play a game” bandwagon. and it is very odd how no one is saying actors should take a cut. more people are upset overs sports salaries than goldman sachs ceo bonuses WITH OUR MONEY!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Yes Tarzan, it’s quite funny.

  • David

    good time to relaunch the aba and good news for euro teams with increasingly appealing contracts

  • dw24

    I don’t understand how everyone is saying “No you wouldn’t play for less.” Yeah I would, for the love of the game I wouldn’t feel the need for luxuries and showboating. I grew up through poverty I know the meaning of a dollar. If you’re getting payed to play basketball you shouldn’t complain if you’re a real player. Real players play for the love of the game not the money. Owners are ridiculous for offering the money too I agree on that.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    dw24 its good that you would play for the love of the game. Any of us would. But the NBA is a business where hundreds of millions of dollars are going to be made no matter what, okay? If the players are taking pay cuts that means the owners and CEOs are going to be making more money. The cash doesn’t just suddenly disappear. Players make a lot of money because the business is insanely profitable, but the owners make even more. I’d rather see the players making money because they actually PLAY, than to see the owners sitting back and collecting even more bank. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with “I’d play for free because I love the game.” Nothing. At all.

  • WOODY

    What nobody seems to know is which teams are profitable and which aren’t. If, in fact, 24 of the 30 teams are losing money, (really losing money that is), then obviously the players have t take less or the league will collapse. If, on the other hand, 24 are making money, then only minor tweaking is needed. We, or at least those negotiating, need the truth.

  • http://slamonline.com Dave

    dw24 (and others): If you took $4million a year rather than $15million your team owner wouldn’t spend that money on other players. He’d pocket it. And he’d pocket the cash your All-NBA a$$ is bringing in in ticket revenue, too. Life as a pro athlete is about being exploited by someone who was born richer than you’ll ever be, which is why pro athletes take all the money they can get.
    To hell with the owners. Nobody pays to watch them do anything. A 49% share of revenue is damn generous.

  • http://slamonline.com Dave

    I might add that I’d play a game against Kobe Bryant any day for free – but I question the sanity of anyone who runs suicides five times a week for anything other than cold, hard cash.

  • http://none The Philosopher

    Maybe guys will gain the education that college offers. Become team owners. Become a league owner, perhaps. STAY IN SCHOOL boys and girls.

  • Johnson

    I think if they gave up player options, made team options on final years of contracts the standard and basically just gave teams more flexibility on contracts instead of getting ham-stringed by long term big buck deals on players who don’t meet expectations the owners would be more inclined to avoid such ridiculous sudden salary cuts and settle for like a 10% cut or something in their offer.

  • Johnson

    Also, there are quite a few nba teams making a fair profit, they just rally behind the franchises which are suffering saying its because of the economy rather than taking responsibility for their inability to create interest in their city whether its because the team is performing horribly, negative team image or the city just doesn’t care(Atlanta lol). I was really surprised when i saw their potential awhile ago, its hard to believe the owners have the gall to try and cut players salaries in half during 1 negotiation.

  • Justin

    People say “Why should the players have to give back after they’ve busted their asses to get to where they are?” What did it take? High school, a year or two in college and then make a couple million a year? How long do you think it took the owners to get to where they are? Business schooling, clawing their way up as well. Jukai said “What other employees allow their pay to be capped so their owners can save money?” Well, let me ask you this? What other employers give 57% of their revenues to their employees? There are teams that are not making money and a few of them have had to move cities in the past 10 years. I remember the last lockout when the players were crying about money so they had a game to raise money for some of the lesser paid players. Anthony Mason shows up in a full length fur coat and diamond earring. Patrick Ewing gets quoted saying “Fans have to understand that yes, we make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money too”. I mean, wtf! Half of these players make more off of their endorsements anyway

  • tavoris

    i’d like to say that nobody is going to NBA games to see anybody but the NBA players. Nobody buys NBA league pass to see the owners. Nobody floods the NBA store to buy cheerleader merchandise or Mascot replcicas. The players are responsible for 99% of the NBA’s income. Why shouldn’t they have the biggest piece of the pie?
    This fact alone makes it unreasonable to compare ur fry duty to a NBA player. Even if they are doing something they love, they deserve to be paid based on their value. Should Lebron be limited to 8 mil a year when they Cavs easily make 10 times that much off him?

  • therighttoremainsalient

    I think they should look at the way they distribute the large sum of money they already have – There is as many NBA players getting big time money and aren’t even out there earning as there are seats not being filled in every arena (apparently the attendances are low?). If you had to go and do an analysis of out goings versus return on investments then, NBA team owners and GMs would generally look really really poor as investors and business men.

  • rav

    said this before – increase the minimum, lower the max and no contract can guarantee more than $3m a year, regardless of the size of the contract

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    I constantly tell Allenp he is overreactive on his ‘suspicions’ and many times they aren’t warranted.
    This time, he’s 100% right.

  • http://www.therealtimscott.com/how-to-get-lots-of-money/ stuart lichtman

    Yeah,The real winners here are the Euro teams. They’ll get lots of talent at a decent price.

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    “What other employers give 57% of their revenues to their employees? ”
    The employees are part of the product. So in essence, you’re paying for both employee and product out of that 57%. I can name a sh*t ton of companies like that.

  • aaron

    The NBA owners are looking to turn the screws on the players to lessen their exposure to revenue losses due to their own mismanagement. This is what the big banks have effectively done and the NBA owners hope to emulate to a degree: socialize the losses caused by their own ineptness by cutting payroll and privatize the profits by demanding a bigger cut should they succeed. The owners think they’re “too big to fail” it seems. Hopefully, there will be a compromise that is fair to all.

  • tavoris

    last I heard, AIG is still giving out hundred of millions in bonuses to people who haven’t even EARNED them any money. So, I think their system (which failed w/gov’t assistance) is doing a lot worse than the NBA (which is still thriving w/o help).

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