Team Billy Hunter and Team David Stern sought the talents of Federal mediator George Cohen to do the impossible: make up for months of embattled “negotiations” to save the 2011-12 NBA season by Christmas. Sports Illustrated reported there’s still no dice sixteen hours later. Both sides remained fixed on the key issues including, but not limited to, redistributing gross income and an agreement on a new salary cap system.
People oftentimes cite greed and ego as the major points behind the holdup. They’re not wrong. However one major point which usually gets lost in all of this, and most recently received mention from Bob Ryan, is the US doesn’t crave pro basketball for most of the year. The NFL and it’s players had to come to a deal simply because Pro Football is America’s pastime. That’s not to say the NBA isn’t popular as evidenced by having a quality, monetarily successful season last year. Yet it’s 82 game format paired with clueless front offices and few genuinely good teams don’t make for a captivating product year round. Things pick up as they should come playoff time but the general ennui surrounding games from January to February greatly weakens the NBA brand year in and year out.
I think the NBA and the NBPA really need to talk about restructuring more than their projected earnings and expenditures during these talks. I’m obviously looking at the Ivory Tower from the outside so they could be doing just that. I still feel these talks could be a great opportunity to fix the problems plaguing the league. Instead, they’re devolved to who gets paid what while diehard fans have to witness rich people bicker with even richer people over money. They’re obviously entitled to those ends but they shouldn’t get complacent once everyone gets their payday. If so then the NBA will still be second fiddle in American pro sports.