Friday, July 1, 2011

As NBA Lockout Looms, Mr. Stern Is Under Much Tension


There is absolutely no bigger crisis in the NBA than the aspect of greed or disregarding presumably the instability and riskiness stemming from the current lockout that will in all likelihood run the entire season 2011-12 season. It's a damn shame that the NBA season could be lost, as the collective bargaining agreement expired, the image and credibility of the NBA continues to slip with the lockout and all the blame falls squarely on David Stern.

The problem with the economic downturn is now owners have a way to manipulate their numbers that makes it seem like the team lost money the previous year. It is, however, inevitable to escape the painfully disaster of the pathetic tension of this lockout, which is absolutely ridiculous with the star power and the influx of superstars.

It's understandably rampant, and the league's stance on the matter is also despicable, as often happens in an industry where no one seems in control of the unbearable troubles that hovers over the NBA, flirting with the circumstances of a forfeited season. The element here is, which theorically disassembles the market, ticket sales and the glamour in what the league signifies, the association is disrupted in the midst of this lockout, as owners claim that the teams are not profitable to endure another 82-game season.

If you ever wondered why basketball is mired in a labor dispute, as the sport is gradually gaining popularity and plenty of attention, it's probably because NBA teams are losing in profit according to the owners. Instead of revealing the truth which is the owners just want more money and to pay the player less.

It comes as no surprise when this is an effort to achieve certainty, and when owners are willing to slash cost. This is the beginning of a grotesque lockout by NBA owners from a cordial scenario that escalated into ugliness. The eyes of the owners is revenue, and while we await a meeting with the players' union Tuesday in New York, an engagement commissioner David Stern acknowledged last Friday, it could benefit or tear down the NBA.

The man is finally trying to save the league, ready to meet for the fourth time in full sessions in the last three weeks, along with a few minor sessions. On a few occasions, Stern and Billy Hunter had conversations on the phone regularly, without resolving the issue of labor disputes. The sides will have to sacrifice and reach a consensus deal. It all comes with trust and self-awareness. It all comes with matured conversations to relieve all the tension and heavy burdens. It all comes with both parties compromising and taking another side's stance into consideration.

In this case, actions speak louder than words.

This is all about owners getting richer, capable of inheriting more profit for greed, prestige and ego. It's one of many problems associated in sports and, as a result, it is killing the integrity and beauty of the event brainwashed by money, if nothing else. Why would owners be foolish to waste a forgotten season and lose on millions, all because of greed and wealth? Stern played right into the owners hands and didn't bother with being tough on the owners.

The vast majority of owners, many of whom are gaining riches and prominence and holding the leverage even with millions of annual debt service to pay before hiring or signing a megastar to an enormous contract, are reluctant in surrendering the dollars. Either way, that is, the heavy talks is an indicator of bad news. The problem here is, Stern is the focal point of the labor wars, and one can argue that issue could damage his legacy.

These talks are mainly swirling around a myriad of owners tired and infuriated of losing money, eager for increased revenue and substantially the leverage to restore order of full control. Thus, he is a strict and relentless commissioner, harshly known for imposing the hardest suspensions on players -- there is a dubious understanding that he's not the power or significance of the NBA, a scrutinized commissioner in recent memory -- as many wouldn't mind his successor to take over the duties of a challenging role.

Sometimes, he's an enabler, pampering, lavishing and anointing owners with unconditional love, very seldom giving the players representing the league credit for bolstering the growth and popularity after the international stars have enriched globalization and after the superstars have cultivated the game's place. In the end, it's hard to believe there'll be an NBA season, when the players -- turning to partnerships -- are sort of siding with the owners in every facet of the negotiations where team owners are forced to behave more aggressively in a diplomatic war.

"We've continued to try our best to be respectful and reasonable with, not only our ability to listen to what the NBA owners are asking or demanding from us, but we've also tried to express the fact that we're more than willing to negotiate," National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said during The Finals. "And that we've expressed and actually committed to being willing to make some adjustments, and tweak some things, make some quote-unquote compromises in order to try and get this deal done without the event of a lockout. At the same time, we have a responsibility as a Players Association to prepare our guys for that possibility."

At this point in time, the league and its players' association are about $7 billion separated, but the NBA circus has become intense publicly, a misguided theory and catastrophe. If Stern desperately has a sense of pride to remove the stench, he should consider jettisoning the lingering drama of a possible work stoppage, akin to the NFL mess that the enraged fans are very accustomed to.

Wipe away the notion of doomsday. Forget about the animosity. Ignore the wrangling between two parties, uncertain of which direction to take the matter. Fully understanding the distinction between the NFL and NBA troubles, all while a pair of associations have degenerated in a rift over money, the NBA on decline in finances as long as owners pout and petulantly views the discrepancy of a lockout for the intent of earning money.

The owners' reactions are if they don't earn an active 2011-12 season, the wealthy businessman can nevertheless possess millions from their television network deals for survival in the event there is no basketball. In all probability, the players are limited if this happens with shirking profit. There is no evidence of Billy Hunter, the NBAPA's executive director, cutting paychecks to accommodate everybody's wishes. It's possible players will walk out under their own power without enough specifics on what is materializing during labor talks.

For now, Stern has continued his legacy of incompetency as he's pretty much destroyed all that was good with the NBA and turns a blind eye away from the issues that have been plaguing the NBA for the last decade. In the hierarchy of Stern's position, as you probably know as well, he watched the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert descend 26 percent in value of his franchise without the LeBron James in present. It was so mind-boggling to hear Bob Johnson, former owner of the Charlotte Bobcats lose an estimate of $125 million in sale of the franchise to Michael Jordan.

A shocked reaction with the drama and silliness is actually that the players are willing in offering back $100 million in salaries over the next five years. That's not the $800 million yearly over the next 10 years, anxious to reduce their income from 57 percent to 54.3 percent. It's a glaring understanding the players are reluctant of returning 25-40 percent of revenue annually, viewing how players dismiss deliberating a steep salary cap, just as much as they aren't contemplating the blueprint of Flex Tax. The point is, the players don't even have an interest in the maximum limit on guaranteed deals lowered from 5-6 years to three years.

"We're not the ones who have a problem with the agreement we presently have," Hunter said. "We're sensitive to what league owners are telling us. We understand we're living in a different time and we hear what they're saying about adjustments that need to me made. But when you're approximately $7 billion apart, when you haven't moved for months, and you've spent years threatening to take us to this point, it is what it is.

"The players have resolve. We're all for legitimate negotiations as opposed to some of the incredible things they're asking for. Our league has enjoyed a sensational year, breaking numerous ratings, experiencing tremendous success. It doesn't have to be interrupted, but it's their call to lock us out. We certainly expected it and we're ready for it."

The long, exhausting days are ahead for the owners and evidently Stern to avoid a lockout since missing 32 games during the 1998-99 brief stoppage. Either it can make or break Stern and the league.