SBD/October 12, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire yesterday said that the players will give “serious” consideration to starting their own league if the ongoing NBA lockout forces cancellation of the remainder of the '11-12 season, according to Ian Begley of ESPN N.Y. Stoudemire said that the "possibility of forming an alternate league has already been discussed among players." He added, "If we don't go to Europe, then let's start our own league; that's how I see it. ... It's just a matter of us strategically coming up with a plan, a blueprint and putting it together." Begley noted the players would need to clear "many hurdles" before they could get an alternate league off the ground, and those include "finding a source for player salaries, game venues, broadcast rights and player insurance, just to name a few" (ESPNNY.com, 10/11). Stoudemire "did not offer any details about how such a league might work." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Clark notes it is "not clear if such a league could land a TV deal, or if games could be held at major venues" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/12). Stoudemire, who debuted his new Nike Air Max shoe at an N.Y. Foot Locker yesterday, "declined to say if there's financial backing in place" (N.Y. POST, 10/12).
MEETINGS: ESPN.com's Chris Broussard cited sources as saying that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter "will meet with NBA players Friday afternoon" in L.A. Hunter "wants to begin meeting face-to-face with groups of players to explain the details of where the league and the union stand." He has been "successful thus far in keeping the league's 400-plus players unified." Broussard noted "not one player" has gone public "with criticisms of Hunter or the union" (ESPN.com, 10/11). But CBSSPORTS.com's Ben Golliver noted with both economic and system issues "separating the players and owners in their negotiations, pressure from his rank-and-file is only going to increase as the players continue down the road toward missed paychecks" (CBSSSPORTS.com, 10/12). Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern held a "conference call yesterday with his labor relations committee," in advance of next week's full NBA BOG meeting in N.Y. Stern said that at the BOG meeting, the "disastrous CBA negotiations will be discussed, along with the revenue-sharing plan independent of the labor war" (N.Y. POST, 10/12). ESPN's Russ Granik said, "I doubt you’re going to see very much negotiating until we get well into November” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 10/11). Pistons G Ben Gordon said, “There will be more games missed. I expect it might be a year or two” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/12). Cavaliers F Anthony Park: "I’m not optimistic right now. I just don’t see any quick solutions. It’s about differing philosophies” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/12). Bobcats G and NBPA player rep Matt Carroll: “They’re not going to let us go back to work until they get everything they want.” Bobcats F Tyrus Thomas said that he is “saddened, but not surprised, but the cancellation of games.” Thomas added, “We’re staying strong, too. We’re sticking to what our union set out to accomplish in these negotiations” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/12). ESPN’s Broussard said the “players are united, at least publicly” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 10/11).
Anthony does not feel that there will be a
large group of players going overseas
PROPOSALS: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger offered up a number of questions for the league and union after Monday's collapsed talks. Berger: “Did the two sides prioritize the wrong problem, wasting precious days and weeks on BRI when they should have been tackling the system instead?” He wonders if observers were “duped again Monday night” into believing that it was “really the system and not the money that killed” any chance for a deal. Berger: “Hasn't it really always been both?” Berger added, "Here's what I fear happens next: At some point in the next two weeks, a compromise on system issues appears to be 'within reach.'" But then the "back-schmack over whether the owners are offering the players 47 percent or 50 percent would come back-schmack to haunt us, only with a twist this time: Having lost about $200 million from the two weeks of canceled games, the owners would be trying to recoup that money with their next economic proposal." Berger: "Welcome to the next phase of the NBA labor talks, where the gap only grows wider, the rhetoric louder. ... Are the players blameless? Hardly. Hawkish players pushed hard in recent weeks for Hunter not to accept less than 53 percent of BRI" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/11). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell wrote, “I don’t think the league and the union are massively apart on the key issues, so much as they’re somewhat apart on a variety of issues.” Bonnell: “It all comes back to the NBA’s traditional reliance on a so-called ‘soft’ salary cap. … As it stands, their separate definitions of fair and reasonable are just too hard to bridge” (CHARLOTTE.com, 10/11). ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin proposed "four concessions -- two from the players' side and two from the owners' side -- [that] would go a long way in bridging the gap that divides them." The owners' concessions would include accepting a "52-48 basketball related income split in the players' favor" and "letting go of the hard cap idea and surrendering their 'supertax' alternative." In return, the players would accept "shorter guaranteed contracts" and a "10-year length to the new CBA" (ESPNLA.com, 10/11).
With NBA players going on Twitter to get out their message, YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this "wasn’t an idea out of the union’s smartest PR mind, Dan Wasserman, but one of the consulting pockets of the Players Association that do nothing but waste the players’ dues." He noted that NBPA President Derek Fisher "told the players to post, forgetting that the public’s response -- besides un-following his Twitter account out of sheer annoyance -- was to tell the players to simply take the deal the owners were offering. For “better or worse, NBA players will never win public sympathy,” but the NBPA "wins far more support centralizing its message with Fisher and Hunter, with its stars, than it does letting its player masses go on a largely misguided, and entirely pointless, freelance binge." One agent said, "What the hell was going to happen with that? Is the public supposed to march on David Stern’s office and demand justice for the players now?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11). In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes the players on Monday "were back in the familiar role of a brooding breed collectively sent to its room by mean old daddy David." Araton notes a more "proactive strategy" might have "allowed the players to avoid the financial trap press of no paycheck." A temporary "solution -- if not their salvation -- may yet be to work abroad." Player agent Marc Fleisher said, "You may see a lot of players soon going over." But Araton notes if "enough players are willing to stand up and sacrifice, if they act like grown men in a boardroom and not children confined to their bedrooms, leverage may yet be found on the other side of pro basketball's abyss." He writes the union went with its "'Let Us Play” message on Twitter “as if some child-protection agency was going to stumble upon the plea and rush to their rescue." Araton: "Silly is how they came across" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). ESPN L.A.'s Stephen A. Smith wrote, "Whatever leverage they thought they had is on the verge of extinction. Let the players try to hashtag their way through these negotiations." It is "up to the players to fully explain why a deal could not be made" (ESPNLA.com, 10/11).
WILL STRATEGY GAIN SYMPATHY? In Boston, Gary Washburn writes the CBA negotiations tend to "make the players sympathetic figures, and the Players Association decided to play up that role with their Twitter campaign." But fans "fully realize that the players have a sizable responsibility for this work stoppage, too" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/12). In Memphis, Ronald Tillery notes the "growing anti-player sentiment among fans doesn't sit well with Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who unleashed his grit and grind" yesterday on Twitter. Allen wrote: "If I see 1 more person on my timeline thinkn! The players want more money -im gone go crazy!!" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/12). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw writes, “Blaming locked-out players in a work stoppage? Sounds like a plan, just one that defies logic.” Shaw: “Commissioner Bully made the call, doing the bidding of an ownership whose strategy is to watch players squirm when they start missing checks and wait for the inevitable wave of public resentment to crash down on their heads.” Shaw adds, “In communicating with an unsympathetic public, the players are best served sending condolences to fans and arena workers as [Heat F LeBron] James and [Suns G Steve] Nash did this week. Even if they, as yet, have nothing for which to apologize in a lockout that is sole property of NBA owners” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/12). CNN.com’s Doug Gross writes under the header, “Can NBA Players Really Win The Lockout War On Twitter?” Gross notes this may be the first time Twitter has “been an integral part of a plan to sway public opinion.” Univ. of Pennsylvania’s Eric Rabe, who studies social media use as Senior Advisor of the Fels Institute of Gov’t, said, “It’s logical for players to take this approach. They’ve got a resource there to exploit and an issue they want to get on the table in front of the fans. I’m sure they’ll have some success with it” (CNN.com, 10/12).
HUNTER'S CALL ON DECERTIFICATION: Priority Sports Founder & CEO Mark Bartelstein said, “Whether the NBPA gets decertified or not, it's Billy's decision to make. My position and other agents want to support Billy." Bartelstein: "The player's association has made some gigantic leaps here. ... They have not been met with that same effort by the league, and for David, with all due respect, to say the league has made some concessions is characterizing it in an unfair way when the players are the ones that made the concessions and tried to make a deal” ("GameTime," NBA TV, 10/11).
A number of NBA columnists look at the role of Commissioner David Stern and team owners in the lockout, and “nobody loses more than Stern" during these cancelled games, according to Ian O’Connor of ESPN N.Y., who wrote under the header, "Stern Stuck Around One Season Too Long." A league source said, "He's definitely lost some of his power. Because of all the new owners that have come into the league, David had a lot more strength in the last lockout than he has in this one. But he's still the guy running the league, so he's the one whose legacy gets hurt." A player agent said, "This lockout is going to hurt him. He's usually Teflon, and yet I think this one is going to stick to him." O'Connor: "At a time when his sport was riding a tidal wave of momentum, Stern failed to build either a consensus among his owners or a bridge to his players. ... It's too late to turn back now. With his NBA shut down for business one more time, David Stern looks like just another basketball star who should have passed the ball" (ESPNNY.com, 10/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Stern is a "master manipulator, and that's never been easier to see." Throughout the talks, he has had the NBPA leadership "on a string. His agenda, his deadlines, his conditions to meet." Wojnarowski: "This ends when Stern’s done administering a beating on behalf of his owners. Maybe the NBA comes back for a 50-game season, maybe it loses everything. Whatever happens, David Stern, the great illusionist, will dictate the machinations, because this year belongs to him" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11). In Miami, Israel Gutierrez writes there has "never been a clearer picture of who the true villain is when it comes to this NBA lockout." It is "now terribly obvious just how much manipulating is being done here by the NBA’s commissioner and owners." System issues rather than revenue split appear "to be the bigger problem," and this "looks to have been Stern’s plan the entire time." Gutierrez: "It's so infuriating that he’s now claiming that this gulf in the 'system' discussion is what could extend this lockout to depressing lengths. ... If Stern really cared that much about his smaller markets, he'd do his best to put an end to this lockout soon. Because it's the fans in those markets who will abandon the NBA first, if they haven't already." The league "has been and always will be driven by the elite" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/12).
OWNER STRATEGY: In N.Y., Howard Beck in a front page piece reports the NBA "wants what football has: competitive balance, a healthy distribution of talent and a belief that every team, regardless of market size, should have the chance to win a title." The league sees a "model worth emulating and is willing to sacrifice what is regarded as all but sacred -- actual games -- to get it." But while the NBA's "labor crisis is certainly about money, how best to divide its billions, the negotiations ultimately stalled over broader, systemic concerns" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). TNT analyst Charles Barkley said, "If you notice, [Stern] mentioned every small-market team. The NBA owners are going to protect these small-market teams. They don't like the fact all the stars want to play in big cities. And this whole thing is going to be about: We're not going to be like baseball, where you have 20 bad franchises that are really like a minor league system until the players get good enough and then they go to the Yankees or Red Sox." Barkley added, "I thought it was very telling that Commissioner Stern mentioned every small-market team. That's what this thing is about. They're not going to let just the big markets dominate like they do in baseball" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 10/11). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote the NBA owners are "trying to correct mistakes made long ago, gross mismanagement that has caught up with their bottom lines, miscues made by owners who acted more like cheerleaders than businessmen." Schmitz: "Why didn’t Commissioner David Stern step in to protect owners from themselves, in the best interest of the game? ... Owners and the league are largely to blame for this mess. They gave away too much of the family store to the players years ago" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 10/11).
OWNERS CREATED SITUATION: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen wrote the owners "made this system" and "created this mess." It seemed "from the start that the league wanted to crush the union and score some sort of spectacularly one-sided victory." But the players have "in many ways ignored everything the owners have understandably argued that they need to change in the way the system works." The players and owners "did more damage than either could have alone." Their job was "not to dig in and prove how willing they are to hurt the sport and themselves." It was to "hammer out a deal that works without wrecking the place. They failed" (CHRON.com, 10/11). In Boston, Steve Bulpett notes the "longer this drags out, the more likely it is the league will extract more favorable arrangements." The league is "definitely better-equipped to hold its line" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/12). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat writes the only "realistic outcome in all of this is a victory by the owners." Wolstat: "Sometime down the line, the owners are going to win. We just don't know by how much" (TORONTO SUN, 10/12). In Oklahoma City, Darnell Mayberry wrote fans’ only hope for a season is “players caving. If they don’t, the 2011-12 season will go down in the annals of NBA history as the first season to never happen" (NEWSOK.com, 10/11). CSNBayArea.com's Matt Steinmetz said, "The players are going to get hammered, it’s just of matter of how it’s all going to come out at the end” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 10/11). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes, "No matter if you think the owners are right to try to get a new economic system, or if you think the players are right for trying to keep their sacred soft-cap system, you have to agree on one thing: The two sides have taken the plunge into the abyss together. And took it thinking they know what the consequences would be. But they really don't know, since this isn't 1999. Whatever damage they are going to incur from this lockout, they have brought it on themselves" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/12). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz writes the lockout will “last as long as it takes for the players to cave.” Schultz: “The owners created this mess by giving out stupid contracts. But the economics of the league can’t support the current CBA and the players need to realize that” (AJC.com, 10/11). TNT’s David Aldridge said the “players are much more unified than they were in ’98, and even though I’m sure you may have one or two guys go off on Twitter on their own, I think most players are solidly behind the union." Stars like Lakers G Kobe Bryant, Heat F LeBron James and Celtics F Kevin Garnett coming to the meetings in N.Y. last week "gives the union a good backing because if those guys are willing to miss paychecks in support of the union” then it is “hard for the other guys to break ranks” ("GameTime," NBA TV, 10/11).
DIFFERENT STYLE OF OWNER? In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro talks to former Suns Chair Jerry Colangelo about his perception of the talks. Colangelo said yesterday, “Just remember, in every negotiation, there are different players. A different cast of people.” When asked how different, Colangelo added, “Very different.” D’Alessandro notes these “aren’t the owners the owners Colangelo knew in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.” These owners “expect the NBA to be a cash-flow business, which is a hoot” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/12).
SCHEDULE: USA TODAY's Falgoust & Zillgitt looks at how quickly a season could start and writes when a deal is made, the season could start in "three weeks," but "a month is a more reasonable estimate" (USA TODAY, 10/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes while it "may be grim inside the negotiating room, there's hardly a crisis-level urgency on the outside." Fans "complain that pro seasons stretch too long anyway; threats of cutbacks feel more sensible than menacing." Gay: "This is basketball's solitary, self-inflicted mess, and the sport may wait a long time before there's a public furor for a resolution" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/12). In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes, "With football in full swing, fans can do without the NBA. That’s why I’ve felt all along the owners and players will be back no later than January or February, when the sports calendar thins a bit" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/12). TNT’s Reggie Miller said the owners "absolutely ... want to lose a season” ("GameTime," NBA TV, 10/11). ESPN’s J.A. Adande said the “worse-case scenario” is the NBA “could blow up not only this season, but the next season as well” ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN2, 10/11). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes, "A lockout shouldn’t be the only reason to reduce a bloated schedule. Sanity might be." ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said, "Seventy would be great. But only if you stretched them out over the same amount of time as the 82-game season." Grantland.com editor Bill Simmons said that 75 games "would be ideal." Simmons: "That’s what the players say is the best length because of the wear and tear on their bodies." Sandomir: "If fewer games kept players a bit healthier and the games more compelling, why not try it?" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12). Worldwide Partners President & CEO Al Moffatt said that if the lockout "ends quickly, the NBA will suffer only short-term damage to its reputation and marketability." But a "lost season could set its reputation back years." Moffatt said, "It will almost be like a lost decade" (USA TODAY, 10/12). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "The NBA is running the risk of doing damage that it cannot undo” (“PTI,” ESPN, 10/11).
The "biggest losers of the NBA lockout may turn out to be Madison Square Garden’s shareholders," according to Decambre & Atkinson of the N.Y. POST. MSG and its MSG Network are facing a $70M revenue hit if the league’s entire 82-game season is a wash, according to expert estimates. Media analyst Rich Tullo said that lost ticket sales from the Nov. 2-14 canceled games "will drain as much” as $7M from MSG. Another $3M in "lost advertising dollars could come from MSG Networks" (N.Y. POST, 10/12).
COULD ENTHUSIASM WANE IN SACRAMENTO? In Sacramento, Bizjak & Kawahara note if the "labor impasse drags on, it could erode some of the public enthusiasm for a new arena that the Kings created last May, when they halted their efforts to move to Anaheim." Sacramento City Hall arena task force member Michael Ault said it is possible the loss of games could "have some psychological impact" on public support for the $387M arena proposed for the downtown railyard. But he notes the arena -- "which would also host concerts and other events -- is 'about more than sports' and will likely move forward regardless of the Kings." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson: "We're going full speed ahead." Bizjak & Kawahara note without the Kings, "it's not as if Power Balance Pavilion will shut down." Kings PR Dir Chris Clark said that the organization "expects to fill in more dates with 'fan engagement events' at the arena, including a big-screen showing of a documentary about late Kings player Wayman Tisdale" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/12) A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial under the headline, “NBA Dispute Saps Kings’ Momentum,” states the lockout “could give the city more leverage in negotiations with the King owners. If a final deal calls for big-market teams to share more revenue, it could make the Lakers, in particular, more opposed to allowing the Kings to move to Anaheim as a new competitor in Southern California. … But the longer this impasse lasts, the more likely it is that fans will lose interest” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/12).
TEAM NOTES: In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes the Heat "continue to attempt to market the brand including a Thursday 'Eat with the Heat' food truck event at AmericanAirlines Arena from 11:30a.m. to 2:30p.m., with the carefully worded promotion of giveaways of free tickets to upcoming 'events'" at the arena (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/12)....In Newark, Colin Stephenson cites a person with management ties to an East Coast arena that hosts NBA games as saying that “to the Prudential Center, losing an entire season of Nets games won’t necessarily be a hardship.” The source added that “if the NBA cancels the entire regular season, the Prudential Center can make up any lost revenue from the 41 Nets games by booking concerts for the newly available dates.” Citing the Nets attendance was toward the bottom of the league in ’10-11, the source said, “Three or four very good shows will make up for an entire season of Nets revenue” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/12)….Philadelphia First Deputy City Controller Harvey Rice said that the city “will lose an estimated $87,000 in amusement taxes – five percent of tickets sales – from cancellation” of the first three 76res home games (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/12)....Spurs officials “would not say how many fans had requested their money back Tuesday, citing an NBA gag order on lockout-related talk” (MYSANANTONIO.com, 10/12)....In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote Haws employees “have yet to hear from either impending new owner Alex Meruelo or impending lame duck majority owners from the Atlanta Spirit about whether there will be a payroll reduction -- be it in the form of layoffs, furloughs or salary cuts” (AJC.com, 10/11).
NFL owners yesterday approved continuing playing regular-season games in the U.K., though contrary to expectations the league did not specifically approve playing more than one game per year there. Instead, the owners' resolution, according to the NFL, "enables the league to determine the appropriate number of UK games per season, based on the popularity of the sport in the market and the number of teams that volunteer to play as a home team." NFL owners in '06 approved a five-year overseas run beginning in '07, and played one regular-season game a year in London. That resolution expires after the Bears-Buccaneers game in London later this month. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said last month he hoped to have two games a year in London, but that is not what the new resolution precisely calls for (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). Goodell yesterday said, "Part of the discussion today centred on asking if we should have some consistency among some of the teams going over there. There is a strong feeling that would help build a fan base of particular teams and might be more beneficial in the short term just to try to see can we build the kind of fan base that could potentially warrant a franchise at some point in time. So we may focus a little more on a smaller number of teams going over on a consistent basis, but obviously the visiting teams would rotate. They have to volunteer for it. They have to agree to it. None of this can be forced on any teams." The multiple games could start next year, and Goodell said that the NFL "will use them to test whether a team could really be based in London and play in the league -- although he insisted that would still be some way off" (SKYSPORTS.com, 10/12).
REGULAR GUESTS: ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote under the header, "Could Bucs Be A Regular In London?" Yasinskas noted the resolution "allows teams to 'volunteer' for one home game a year in the U.K.," and this year's game is a home game for the Buccaneers, who also "played a home game there in 2009." Yaskinskas: "The Bucs are about to become the only team to return to London since the NFL started playing regular-season games there. The Bucs already have had a strong fan club in the U.K. for years. The owners of the Bucs (the Glazer family) also own the Manchester United soccer team. ... Plus, a yearly game in London would guarantee the Bucs at least one 'home' sellout a season" (ESPN.com, 10/11).
WE'LL GO, BUT ONLY AS THE VISITORS: Texans Owner Bob McNair said that he "wants the Texans to play in a regular-season game in the United Kingdom but only as the visiting team." But McNair "might change his thinking about giving up a home game if the NFL expands its schedule beyond 16 games." McNair: "I wouldn't completely rule it out if the length of the season changed and we had an extra game or (two). Then that might be something we'd consider" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/12).