Friday, July 1, 2011

NBA Lockout WILL Get Outta Hand

Understand this: the NFL and NBA lockouts have nothing in common. What they're fighting about really isn't the same thing. And how it plays out and what both sides can do are totally different.

The NBA lockout is truly Armageddon. There is no way the NBA season starts on time in November. There is no way the NBA will play another game in 2011. For those of you out there who think we'll just have a 50 game season as we did in 1998-1999 ... that's very, very wishful thinking.

The truth of the matter is that both sides are completely dug in. The owners don't just want money back -- they want a lot of money back. They want to limit guaranteed contracts ... both in money and in length. They want to limit free agency in a way. They say they are losing money (whether you really believe that or not) and the league isn't viable with the current system nor a few quick fixes to the system.

Commish David Stern pretty much drew the line in the sand when he said that he isn't shocked about the lockout and was already "resigned" to the fact that they could lose all of the 2011-2012 season.

Here is where this lockout will differ from the NFL lockout ... or pretty much any lockout you could think of.

It will be hard to bully the players.

The players are paid, on average, more money than any other pro sport and average more money per player than any union in the nation. From the things I've heard, the Players Association has done a fantastic job over the last two years relaying the message that this lockout would happen and it will be quite a lengthy one. Players have been saving their money and are in better position now more than ever to deal with no paychecks.

By the way, the first paycheck players would lose wouldn't be until November 15th ... so that's a long time before the players will feel ANY affect of this lockout.

The ones who've made their money ... just like in any sport ... can afford the missed checks. It is usually the lower end players that feel the pinch and struggle to stay on board with the issues. That's what the NFL is working towards and how the NHL crushed their players union in the mid 2000s. There are plenty of players who are barely treading water.

However, these players have options. See, basketball is a global game and there is money all over the place. If you are a player feeling the pinch of the lockout, you can just go to Europe, China or any of the various leagues out there that would love to add a player like that. Again, they're not getting LeBron, Kobe or Dwight but they'd be getting an NBA calibar player who certainly can help the organization.

So bleeding the players dry would be a lot harder than the owners think it will be. Word is that the NBA wants an NHL-type lockout where the NHL cancelled an entire season and, in turn, pressured the players into a total overhaul of the economic system. Six current NBA owners were NHL owners during that mess and they've seen how it worked out better for them. The NBA, however, will have a bigger problem with that.

Yeah, NHL players could've played overseas too, but they didn't already average around $5M per player nor does NHL players have any of the marketability that the NBA players enjoy. See, Nike will still run ads for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. Those ads will still be out there and those endorsement dollars aren't going anywhere.

That's not to say that players won't feel the pain of losing money. That isn't to say that David Stern and the 30 teams will break down and take whatever the players offer. What I'm saying is that it will take quite a bit more bullying to make the players flinch.

And when they do, it could be 2012 already.

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