Saturday Sports: The Unsuspecting Victim of the NBA Lockout

At this point the players might as well holdout for the whole season. After making significant progress in negotiations over the last couple of weeks, talks have stalled again between the owners and players regarding the split of Basketball Related Income (BRI). Two weeks of the NBA season has already been cancelled, and the owners are really the ones holding things up. Last season the players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI, but now the owners are insisting on a 50-50 split. In ESPN.com's 5-on-5, David Thorpe described the situation as “a lockout, and only one side is in control of the lock”.

The players have countered the owner’s offer, proposing a minimum of a 52-48 percent split, but the owners have stood their ground, insisting upon the even split. Granted the sides in the NFL lockout weren’t as far apart as in the NBA lockout, but they were able to agree upon the even split on the gridiron.

Owners in small and mid-markets claim to have been hit hard by the down economy, going so far as to say that they’ve dipped into the red. The new salary cap agreements will help the smaller markets from losing money. NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter recently said that it all depends on ‘how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal’.

It isn’t as if the players have asked for some exorbitant asking price; in fact, they’ve conceded 5 percent to the owners. The owners have locked the players out for the difference of 2 percent, and it feels as if it’s more about the principle of an even split than it is about the 2 percent of BRI.

As a result, the players have created international tours. They’ve participated in street ball classics. They’ve even threatened to take their talents abroad, though it’s unlikely we’ll see a player of significance risking his body in meaningless games. Most of the talk about Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard going abroad has been a negotiating tool. Don’t be sad though, Allen Iverson will still have a roster spot in whatever country he wants that’s not called America.

Without sounding cliché, the real losers of this lockout aren’t the players or the owners. How can you sympathize with either one when the former is fighting over millions and the latter is fighting over billions? The real losers in this situation are the fans–the ones who are paying the money in the first place. And yet the irony of the situation is that now we can keep the money we’d be spending on tickets in our pockets. Always helps to save up during a recession, because surely the owners aren’t the only ones feeling strapped in a down economy.