Monday, November 21st, 2011 at 11:30 am  |  7 responses

NBA Coaches Association Director’s Open Letter to End Lockout

The latest NBA Lockout-related letter (urging both sides to end the labor fight) comes courtesty of Michael H. Goldberg, Executive Director NBA Coaches Association. The Boston Herald brings us the missive in its entirety:

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…’ Joni Mitchell (Big Yellow Taxi)

I have been involved in the sport of professional basketball for over 35 years. In 1973, I was appointed General Counsel to the American Basketball Association, a great league but a financial disaster. In 1978, shortly after four of the ABA’s teams staggered into the safe harbor of the NBA (then itself a league with financial issues), I began my assignment as Executive Director of the NBA Coaches Association (all Head and Assistant Coaches plus alumni) and have served in this capacity ever since.

I’m urging this call for an immediate return to discussions by the parties solely as a veteran of the business of the sport and not as a representative or spokesman of the NBA Coaches or any other constituency. As someone who has ‘seen it all’ in the NBA (and other professional sports), I urge the principals involved in the current labor dispute to immediately back away from the precipice, get back to the bargaining table, and redouble their efforts to resolve the current conflict and get a deal done without delay.

The upcoming NBA season must be saved. To do otherwise will cause a self-inflicted economic blow to an enterprise that over the years through the hard work of players, team owners and the League Office has become a great global brand, but, like every business operating in today’s fragile economic landscape, one that is more susceptible to ‘decline and fall.’

We are currently in a global economic crisis such as has not been seen in any of our lifetimes. Only individuals wearing three-inch thick rose-colored glasses can believe that sports, and NBA basketball in particular, are and will in the future be immune from these forces. Great companies with names that our parents looked upon as having the safety and sustainability of Fort Knox have only survived thanks to bankruptcy or government bailout, while many others have disappeared altogether. Tens of thousands of employees working for these “untouchable” companies for years thought they were set for life, only to find themselves out of work and scrambling to figure out Plan B.

In this new and dangerous economic environment there are no guarantees that what worked in the past can work now. We all need to concede that the NBA does not operate in a financial bulletproof bubble. After months of discussion, it has become apparent that a solution to the current situation means sacrifice and change. The parties have moved in that direction. Now is not the time to step back and harden positions. Litigation and the “courts” are not the answer – ‘been there and done that.’ Let the parties have the courage to make a deal, even if it requires taking some risks and accepting the unpalatable for the short term, so as to ensure that going forward there will be a viable and robust NBA business, one that is able to withstand the current financial environment and further prosper.

Partial or lost seasons are a huge mistake and a blow to any sport that requires years of painful business rebuilding to get back on track. We all know this and know that damage has already taken place. The recent lost NHL season is an example whereby the end result was a damaged sport and fallout that fractured its union and cost hundreds of millions of dollars lost by the league, its players and its teams, to say nothing of the financial pain suffered by non-player (league and team) employees, suppliers and allied businesses. Similar results have affected every sport that has shut down due to labor/management issues.

There is no time to waste. History has proven that all sports labor conflicts are ultimately solved. No doubt all sides are concerned about their financial well-being and rightly so. But everyone involved must now think beyond their own interests, check out the daily financial headlines, and work towards a negotiated solution now. Short of this all parties will risk killing the goose that lays so many golden eggs for so many connected with it. Let’s not commit a ‘Flagrant 2′ to a business that can ill afford it.”

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  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Nice to see someone in a high place at least putting forward the idea that this might just kill the NBA entirely, and all the bitterness won’t matter then, because it’ll all be gone. What he is talking about has been something I could feel brewing since the lockout started; a discontent and fan backlash against the NBA as a whole which is indiscriminate as a whole. In recent times two girls I know asked to know more about the NBA while their favourite sport’s off-season was going on, and I managed to get them excited about basketball. Then this happened and they’ve been put off not just the NBA, but basketball in its entirety. Yes, this is just a small sample size, but these are the sorts of fans who simply won’t return to a sport which is going to lose a whole season. Sports are supposed to be something we can depend on to take our minds off our troubles and give us something to root for and believe in without question when other aspects of our lives may lack direction. Before I get too preachy with this I’ll just finish with saying that both sides need to swallow their damn pride and take the message about the golden goose to heart.

  • http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-bulls-talk/2011 Diesel

    You want to make sure no one takes you seriously? Start by quoting a song and end by using one of the corniest basketball-related lines of all time.

  • http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-bulls-talk/2011 Diesel

    “Too Legit, Too Legit to Quit” – MC Hammer

  • http://www.nba.com/2011/news/features/steve_aschburner/10/27/lockout-q-and-a-kevin-murphy/index.html Allenp

    He basically asked them to bargain some more. Makes sense to me.
    But I don’t think it does to the owners.

  • Evolutionary

    This is all fine and good and he is probably absolutely right. The issue is that the players are in a bad relationship. They aren’t being respected and treated right. When he doesn’t respect her and treats her bad, and she stays with his a*s anyway, it just reinforces him treating her bad. “I can treat her however I want and she’ll still stay.” And if he’s an arrogant a*s he’d rather try to get away with something than treat her better. The only way she will be respected and taken seriously is if she leaves him. And then he still probably won’t get it becuase its about whats in his heart that he wouldn’t treat her right in the first place. This is the position the players are in. The only way basketball can be sustaintable and healthy is if the players leave the owners and start their own league. Even if its not permanent. Its the only way they can truly be partners in professional basketball. Period. They need to quit being scared and go their own way.

  • shutupallenp

    wow @evolutionary well said, perfect analogy. @diesel if all you took away from it was the first and last line then the article was wasted on you

  • Justin

    Yeah, they’re not being respected and treated right. How dare they pay those guys millions of dollars a year? What are they thinking? Please! And don’t get me started with that partner crap either. They aren’t partners. They are boss and employee. Basketball is not going to be “sustainable and healthy” if the players try to start their own league. No network is going to cross the NBA and pick them up, they won’t have any buildings to play in (other than maybe some college campuses or second rate smaller buildings) and they won’t be making nearly the money they are now. I find it incredibly hilarious and very hypocritical that so many of these guys are willing to play overseas for a heck of a lot less money but they’re not willing to do the same here