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Thursday, July 28th, 2011 at 9:45 am  |  40 responses

Billy Hunter on NBA Lockout: ‘It’s All About Greed’


by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

The executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Billy Hunter, isn’t what one would call an optimistic fella. At least, not when it comes to the current work stoppage.

Having already gone through a lockout in 1998-’99, Hunter doesn’t see too many differences in this fight compared to the last one.

In the Grantland profile of Billy Hunter and his fascinating life and career, the man once again tasked with staring down David Stern claims that he knew the owners were ready for a lockout since 2007, and that their motives are simple and clear: pure greed.

If each side maintains their current stance, Hunter said he believes the league’s owners will lock out players for at least an entire season. Some originally applauded the civility of both sides for agreeing to meet long before the labor agreement expired. In retrospect, the meetings only hinted at the deep fracture that existed back then.

“They are trying to do the same thing here that they did in the case of the NHL and they’re following the same blueprint. I know it, and I preached it time and again to our players from the inception. I’ve said the same thing: They’re not negotiating in good faith; they have no desire or intentions of getting a deal without a lockout because if they think they can threaten us or lock us out for a year or whatever, that the players will cave and they’ll get everything they want. … In this instance, as far as I’m concerned, it’s calculated. It’s all about greed,” Hunter said. “It ain’t about nothing else.”

So, yeah, not exactly a rosy outlook for the immediate future of the NBA.

Even with both sides agreeing to resume negotiations next week, there’s no reason to believe that a peaceful resolution is forthcoming anytime soon.

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  • D-Blok

    damn, this dude is not a likable guy…

  • bull22

    the pot talking like the kettle, what a double-standard joker. this guy is so concerned about the nba that he is encouraging players to go overseas,, which i hope they all go because no one will be watching anyway…

  • damn

    its like there not even trying which is so frustrating, lock everybody in a room and provide food and bathroom breaks but dont let anybody leave until theres a deal

  • JD

    and the players refusing to take a paycut out of millions of dollars arent being greedy

  • neaorin

    Is this the same guy who scoffed at the notion of giving up his salary during the lockout, like the NHL union exec did?

  • Morgan

    @neaorin he’s the very same. I think Billy Hunter is one of the few people – the rest being the lawyers – that want this to last all season.

  • http://slam.com Chris Mullin’s Accent

    The players are making plenty. Why should the owners make any?
    Billy Hunter has strange hair, and something about his face angers me.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    It would suck if there is no NBA basketball, but it’s not the end of the world people.
    And honestly, folks are being a little ridiculous. Two business partners are having a dispute about how to divide revenue. They’ve decided to discontinue operations until they can resolve their differences. And fans are complaining because they can’t get the product they want to get.
    Nobody is entitled to basketball, just like owners aren’t entitled to profits and players aren’t entitled to jobs.
    Everybody, fans included, needs to get over themselves.

  • Eddie1

    AllenP you’re back! Man Slam forums wasn’t turning to ish without the old crew. Illuminati!!!!

  • http://dsjfklf.com Jukai

    Allen: that kinda sounds like yer justifying that to yourself to make yourself feel better. There is no reason the fans SHOULDN’T be angry. Both sides are being unreasonable, and it is ruining the past time that all here enjoy. Why should people not voice their anger over this?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I just said both sides are being unreasonable.
    And I also pointed out that people are complaining that they don’t have the chance to PAY to watch grown men run around playing basketball.
    Nobody here has their hands clean. For me, the blame hierarchy goes: 1. Owners who instituted the lockout 2. Players who have contributed to the lockout conditions 3. Fans who b)itch and moan that they can’t watch basketball like it’s the end of the freaking world.
    Also, I recommend rending the profile on Billy Hunter at Bill Simmons’ Grantland site. It’s written by Jonathan Abrams, the cat who used to cover the NBA for the New York Times and it’s interesting.

  • http://slam.com Chris Mullin’s Accent

    I’m going to b)itch and moan even more if they don’t figure this out so I can watch some basketball before the end of the freaking world. We’ve got less than a year and a half, I think.

  • http://philosopher.view@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    ^Shout out to the Mayans. lol

  • Mauritz

    Really, this lockout is about owners wanting to increase their already immense fortunes. I can totally see why Billy H would say it’s about greed: it sure as h is. That the players refuse immense paycuts and more economic insecurity (shorter contracts) is completely understandable, but is there some kind of law that teams in crappy markets have to make a profit? The league is claiming $300M losses, but that is almost entirely in small markets. Buying the Minnesota Timberwolves is simply a bad investment, and if you can’t make a profit from it with the current CBA, move the franchise to someplace where basketball is profitable (like Seattle). Don’t blame the players: they’re the ones creating the stuff they sell anyhow…

  • http://philosopher.view@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Shout out to DeMaurice Smith…

  • jsmooth

    I don’t think the players are being unreasonable at all. This is how I look at it from my vantage point. They’re spending under 60 million on player contracts per year (give or take) But the owners revenue Streams include:

    Media Deals = Billions
    Tickets Sells= 20,000 seats x average cost of a ticket (you do the math)
    Parking
    Sponsorships = Multiple Millions
    Concessions (way overpriced)
    Licensed Apparel

    I’m probably forgetting a couple revenue stream but these owners are wealthy businessmen. There’s no way they would continually remain in a business venture that is continually unprofitable. Make’s NO SENSE.

  • bike

    Billy has every reason not to be optimistic. The players will eventually cave. They simply have more to lose than the owners. The owners can wait this thing out forever.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    Losing an NBA season would be like if sequel to my favorite video game or the next season of my favorite TV show got canceled: it would suck and I’d cry about it for 15 minutes. But then I’d go do something else with my time. Fans that get angry about this need to expand their horizons in life.

  • http://slam.com Chris Mullin’s Accent

    I’m sure there’s a lot more cost to running an NBA team than paying the players. A 50/50 split seems to be the definition of fair. I believe that’s how the NFL is run, and look, they’re playing.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Actually, the players currently receive 47 percent of NFL income.
    Prior to the lockout, they had a 60/40 split, with the players receiving 60 percent of all revenue after the owners took an initial $1 billion off the top before they split things up.
    So, if 50/50 is fair, the NFL is not fair, even before you get to the ridiculous injury risk for players, the high turnover, the lack of quality health benefits after retirement and the absence of guaranteed contracts.
    Oh, and the NBA players have already offered to roll back their percentage of the income split to 54 percent as long as the league eliminated it’s demand for a hard salary cap and the removal of guaranteed contracts.
    I would wager that number could get down as low as 50 percent provided the owners back of their other demands, but the likelihood of the owners agreeing to anything that doesn’t guarantee them a profit regardless of how poorly they manage their assets is unlikely. So even that won’t get a deal done. They want an NHL and NFL deal. They want that money.

  • Marco

    this is how i see it. the owners are being stupid because it took them years to get back the ratings they lost when Michael Jordan retired plus the lockout in 99. Now they’re going to lose ratings again because of this lockout. I really don’t think its worth it losing ratings. they make money that people won’t see in their lifetimes. and don’t blame the players, the already got use to their lifestyles and not you want them to take a cut from their paychecks?

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    …at least the NFL is back

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I read that after all the cuts the NBA owners proposed the players would only be taking in 42% of the revenue..(*cough* ridiculous)…thus, them being so far away from making any kind of deal.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Most of these guys that own an NBA team don’t actually make their money from the franchise…. it’s usually just a small piece to their property.share portfolio…. the NBA team owner doesn’t mind if the actual team runs at a loss because the cinema complex, shopping mall and restaraunts on the same block rake in the revenue that he’s after and the NBA TEAM is just the magnet to get people around the area in….

  • http://dsjfklf.com Jukai

    What… are you reading what you write, Allen? Why do fans deserve ANY of the blame? First you write an article talking about how ball is more than a children’s game, now you’re shaming fans for wanting to watch it.
    The CBA is up for renegotiations so that both sides are balanced. It’s not just that the players “caused” these conditions but that they seem unwilling to part with anything that will fix it. They want to give up very little, which is rather ridiculous since even if the NBA is fixing its books like a mother f’er, it’s simply not a successful business right now.
    The players union fought tooth and nail for the most LOGICAL thing to give up: guarenteed contracts. The NBA pretty much said “ok, you can keep the contracts. That’s major. What’re you gonna give up?” and the players union said “well, uh, not much.”
    The blame goes 85% on the owners. Really, their demands are crazy. But for the NBA players to not even budge, it’s a crock of sh*t. Give up major contract guarentees and you can keep the big money. It’s that simple.

  • http://dsjfklf.com Jukai

    Sorry, I strayed away from my original point a bit: Fans can be pissed that this is happening. They can be pissed a while. Honestly, it DOES upset me. It upsets me that old players will have one less year to accomplish their goals, it upsets me that a Miami or Dallas dynasty will have one less year to add to their greatness, it upsets me that aging powerhouses like the Celtics and Lakers who may have only had it in them for one more fantastic championship run are now never given the opportunity.
    It’s a game. We pay to watch it. I understand that in many ways, it is crazy for it to affect anyone outside of five minutes of annoyance… but it will bug me for pretty much the entire season. And sometimes I will go from bugged to upset. And sometimes from bugged to mad. Don’t shame the fan for that.
    I don’t see anyone here saying that their life is void of meaning with the lockout in place. Really, the reaction is kind of underwhelming cause everyone has been so prepared for it. You’re making an issue out of a non issue.

  • doyouwantmore

    Fans who automatically side with the players union because players are cooler than owners are not taking the side of the fans.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    One of the main sticking points from the NBAPA perspective is that the NBA wants to roll back current contracts to fit a new salary cap or revenue deal (I don’t understand how a salary rollback is even legal, but I don’t know US contract law) – but I agree with the players that, in principle, a contract is a binding document. I wouldn’t accept a rollback on what I’ve been contracted to work for under any circumstances, so I simply can’t side with the NBA in this dispute.
    The teams that are losing money were still signing high contracts (hello Hawks, hello Wizards) up until the last moment, relatively speaking. There is no way they’ll put in a new cap without salary rollback because they simply won’t be able to afford players worth anything.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    So what I’m saying is that I agree with Hunter – the NBA isn’t acting in good faith.

  • http://dsjfklf.com Jukai

    Ugh: Read about the purpose of CBA’s to understand the legality of the contract changes.

  • Allenp

    People are acting like they have been betrayed which is crazy to me.

  • LHoover

    some of these players could still be in the ghetto right now, so they should be a little grateful and take a paycut…

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Jukai: Negotiating a CBA in my workplace in Australia is painful enough without reading about it in the US context. It was just a passing remark on the generally counter-intuitive minutia of contract law.

  • JC

    IMO, it more of owners wants to bail out of their stupid business decisions.
    no one points a gun at your head to sign Rashard Lewis for 22+ million per year.
    suck it up !!

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    MAKE… IT…. BETTER… If the corn-fed fooseball players can resolve a lockout, why can’t we????

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  • J White

    ANSWER THIS and no I have no idea what lookout is. Ok, LOCKOUT LOOMING. TRUTH, Black MAMBA (that is joke when i say that one) , Johnson, all aging have to sucker as much $ and as long extensions as possible knowing a lookout on the way. What’s up with that. don’t they care there are crushing a system. average family cant afford to go. so many empty seats. Then truth says its for security reasons. I say it’s for insecurity reason . Sorry i think differently when I see then play now.
    Looking at Hoop Hype there is no why a hard cap to 50m will happen. 2014 the 3 heat players get 60m. kobe, bynum, gasol get about 55m. How much will CP, Howard, Karnet, Williams, Brand want in 2013? David Stern needs to put his foot down. He did the no high school player can enter. now fix this Stern. These players are addicated to nba money. there not all going over seas. bull. No one will forgive these superstars.

  • lol

    @ J White: lol

  • http://yahoo john hoosier

    i hope they never play again in this country. Gangsta ball gone 4-ever. What a blessing! MLB,NHL,NFL needs to re-schedule to fill void they might leave.Also NCAA could fill it. Anything to keep this trash off our airwaves is fine by a lot of people.

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