The State of the NBA

Fear the Beard.

Believe it or not, the NBA is coming off of one of it’s most entertaining seasons in the history of the league. We saw some crazy talented young players burst on to the professional scene and demand the attention of other teams. We saw one of the game’s most respected players destroy the game’s most despised teams. We saw some of the most unbelievable dunks from a player coming off of knee surgery.

Let’s recap some of this season’s highlights (or lowlights, depending on your team.)

  • Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, became the youngest player to win the MVP. He’s 22.
  • Blake Griffin did some stuff.
  • Vince Carter scored 20,000 points! Class act.
  • The Miami Heat brought together Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James.
  • Kevin Love had the longest double double streak since Moses Malone, dub-dubin’ in 53 straight games.
  • After months of reports and rumours, Carmelo Anthony finally became a Knick.
  • Jerry Sloan retired, which sucks because he was the man.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers were pretty good!! They lost 26 straight games.
  • LeBron’s hairline.
  • Ray Allen became the NBA’s all-time leading 3 point scorer.
  • And finally, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, 4-2.
The list goes on, those are just some of my personal favourites. It doesn’t matter what team you were a fan of (unless it was Seattle), this season was as good as it gets. But now that the season is over, there is a problem. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired after the 2010-2011 season, and the players and owners are very, very far from an agreement. Despite some of the best TV numbers in years, including an incredibly popular draft night, and plethora of young stars, the NBA is in a lockout.
There are a number of problems influencing the NBA lockout:
1) The players control 57% of the “Basketball Related Income”, also known as BRI. Owners have 43%, and some franchises do not make a profit. By bringing down the percent players control, owners can share the BRI to support one another. (See: Milwaukee Bucks.)
2) All NBA contracts are guaranteed, meaning if I go absolutely nuts in the last year of my contract and perform well, teams are going to shell out for me. But if I have a terrible moral code and decide that I have money now and I don’t really care anymore, I can sit and go through the motions, and still earn all that money. Owners want to change that too.
3) Like I said before, the NBA has teams that do not run a profit. The NBA claimed that 22 of 30 NBA teams did not make money this year. The teams that made a profit (likely) were: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and the last one is debatable. The players want to work with the owners to create a better revenue sharing system.
4) The owners want to roll back player salaries. Which makes sense when you think about it: the owners signed the last CBA, agreeing that when BRI went up, player salaries would adjust accordingly. Basketball is having a great run during the 2000’s and this has created an increase in revenues. Now the owners are mad about it and want players to take a pay freeze. It makes sense, but none of the players are going to agree to that.
5) Smaller markets are not competitive. The Larry O’Brien Trophy has been presented to a team in one of the top 5 U.S. markets 25 times in the past 32 seasons. Owners want a hard salary cap, compared to the soft cap the league had in the expired CBA. The hard cap means teams cannot go over a certain amount of team salary and takes away the advantage that the large markets have.
There are a few other contributing factors to this lockout, but the five above are some of the big ones.
The players and owners need to change their attitudes about the lockout though. Both sides have to work towards getting a deal in place. For the owners, it’s in their best interest. Also, the players think that they can get through and still make a living overseas, but the reality is that no other basketball league can offer the same kind of money. The top 20 players will be able to make the same money, but the other leagues cannot afford to play average players the same amount of money.
Right now, the players and owners have not had many serious talks or came any closer to reaching an agreement. Statements from various owners, NBA officials, and player representatives come out every couple of days, and they all sing the same song: the two sides are not even close to a deal, and that we should expect to miss games. Here’s hoping they figure it out.
Check out David Stern on Bill Simmons’ Podcast to hear what the Commish has to say!
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