Monday, November 7, 2011

Strange goings on in the NBA

Not that it matters, but I was a proud member of the UAW at GM for over 30 years. That means, at heart, I'm a union guy. That said, there comes a time to be objective.

If you've followed the on-going negotiations between the owners and the players union in the NBA over hashing out a new contract, it's rather obvious things haven't been going well, to say the least.

Without getting into the particulars about revenue sharing and a "hard cap", apparently the 2 main issues holding back an agreement -- there's a few things that, if true, seem to be rather strange.

1) David Stern is the Commissioner of the NBA. He was appointed by the owners to represent their interests, and while an army of lawyers is no doubt involved -- in the end -- he makes the call on final contract terms for those owners. Sure, they have to vote on it, but that's pretty much a rubber stamp. Conversely, Billy Hunter is the Executive Director of the players' union. You'd think he'd make the same call from the opposite side -- right? Maybe not. Derek Fisher, of LA Laker fame, was voted in as President of the union by those same players. Hunter and Fisher seem to have differing opinions as to reaching a deal. Throw in an equal army of lawyers and -- just who makes the final call from their side anyway, before recommending it to the players to vote on? (Another rubber stamp) If they don't even know who's in charge -- this does not bode well.

2)  Some say approximately 50 players -- hard-liners, if you will, are advocating decertifying the players union. If successful, that would eventually involve the court system to hammer out an agreement. They need only ask themselves one question:  How well did that work with their NFL brethren just a few months ago?  Answer:  It didn't. 

3) At that, why is it that the players, their agents, union reps, and lawyers can collaborate on any and all such matters in the name of "standing united", and be just fine -- but if a few owners get together to discuss the same thing -- they're accused of "collusion", which is illegal?

4) Recently, someone had an article printed in the Oakland Press whereby they claimed 30 of the 32 owners were operating in the "red".  By not playing the games they were actually saving money. Really? That's an amazing statement on 2 fronts. First, considering not even the players' union, with all their legal eagles, have access to the "books", this person either has a hot-line to the almighty, incredible telepathic abilities, or is just full of it. You decide. Second, people that own NBA franchises are most likely billionaires. They didn't get to that stature by making stupid business decisions. Saving money by not playing games? Then why would they want to buy the franchises in the first place? So they could eventually go broke? Count me amongst the highly skeptical on that analysis.

So what happens if they never reach an agreement and the whole season is lost? Forget about players going overseas and all that, because it doesn't matter. Project further. The owners of the franchises aren't going away. If there's no union contract, eventually "scab" players will enter into the equation. It's happened before. Being a union guy, it hurts me to say this, but in this case, maybe starting over again might be a good thing. I'm all for a good wage, decent benefits, and a retirement plan, etc., but the salaries in the NBA are just flat out ridiculous. There's a reason why it causes the "average family of 4" to skip a house/rent payment to attend a game and, in my humble opinion, given the current state of the economy, that reason just doesn't add up.

How's it all going to play out? I have no idea. Thing is -- very few seem to be caring all that much.

You'd think both sides would at least peek out of their ivory towers and take notice of that. Obviously, they haven't. Much like politicians, they're too busy fighting amongst themselves to pay attention to the one thing that should matter most, the people -- in this case, fans.

It's almost like a couple arguing over assets during a divorce. If both parties could be fair and objective, they could probably sit down and calmly iron it out in a few hours. Yet greed always seems to rear it's ugly head on one side or the other -- sometimes both. And guess who wins in the end, after a long and drawn out battle?

The lawyers.

1 comment:

  1. Union guy huh? You seem to have forgot something. That paper you write for was the original union buster in this town. When the Detroit papers went on strike years latera nobody would buy them the Oakland Press doubled their price. Some of us remember.