NBA Commissioner David Stern in his annual pre-Finals media address “admitted for the first time that the NBA received 100 percent of its national TV revenue by starting the season on Christmas Day,” according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. The league and the NBPA by ending the lockout “capitalized on a moment fans and partners could rally around -- and make money around.” Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver were “able to negotiate with the television networks a full payment of their approximately $900 million national broadcast rights fees for the 2011-12 season -- even though it was only 66 games.” Stern: "By starting on Christmas, and based upon other negotiations, we were able to secure the entirety of the league broadcast revenues for this year. But we nevertheless lost 20 percent of the season and 20 percent of our games and 20 percent of our local TV revenues and the like." ABC did not have any games scheduled to air before Christmas Day, and ESPN “wound up not losing any telecasts due to the shortened season.” Only TNT lost games. Stern and Silver said that they “didn't have the final numbers ... for the league's profit-loss picture this season." Silver has said that the league was “projected to break even this season after losing more than $300 million in the final year of the old CBA and turn a profit by next season” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/12).
TWEAKS TO THE SYSTEM: The AP’s Jeff Latzke noted Stern “believes the NBA is [in] need of some tweaking even after following the black eye of the lockout with a better-than-expected regular season.” The competition committee next Monday “will discuss ways to try and eliminate flopping for the sake of drawing a foul and to consider whether to expand instant replay.” Stern yesterday said, "Flopping almost doesn't do it justice. Trickery. Deceit designed to cause the game to be decided other than on its merits. We'll be looking at that.” Meanwhile, Latzke noted there are “still some remnants of the labor dispute -- so-called ‘B-list’ items that still must be taken up.” Stern also “wants to discuss whether NBA players should continue to play in the Olympics or if there should be an age cutoff” (AP, 6/12). SPORTING NEWS’ Sean Deveney noted at the pre-Finals press conference yesterday for the “first time in the last few years, there was no talk of head-butting with the union over financial reports, collective-bargaining stalemates or tough revenue-sharing negotiations” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/12). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes Stern “dismissed the idea the new bargaining agreement with a much-harder salary cap will impact teams negatively like the Heat who were composed under the old rules.” Stern said, "How can that be? It's the same for everyone. If it were a hard cap, it'd be the same as the NFL or hockey. That'd be even tougher for teams. The reality is teams, all teams, are going to be faced with player sharing in addition to revenue sharing” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/13).
IN THE HEARTLAND: In Oklahoma City, John Rohde notes it “didn’t take long” for Stern to “congratulate the city and state that almost instantaneously has become one of the league’s prize commodities.” Stern: “It’s interesting to see the way the state of Oklahoma has taken to these Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s very rewarding that the NBA could play a part in really the growth and literally the excitement that this city that has suffered so much is seeing and having” (OKLAHOMAN, 6/13). In DC, Mike Wise writes the "underlying story" in the league is it is "actually now considered cool to play in Smallville.” Elite players “don’t need to call Miami, New York, L.A. or Boston their NBA home to validate their professional existence.” Aside from a “bigger shoe contract in a bigger market, all the same amenities, the same fame and fortune, exist in the nooks and crannies of the country" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/13). In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes a pro sports championship in a “small Heartland market is an arena full of stars that seem to hover above a city unaccustomed to such a spotlight.” The Thunder have turned Oklahoma City “from a place most known for the senseless bombing of a public building into one known for some of the world’s best basketball.” Mellinger writes if fans can “get by the snaky way” Thunder Owner Clay Bennett and Stern “stole this franchise from Seattle, this is an easy thing to get caught up in.” Games “don’t feel bigger in places like this,” but they do feel “more intimate, more personal, more of a co-op between city and franchise” (K.C. STAR, 6/13).
WHITE PARTY: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dieter Kurtenbach reports the Heat hosted a “sold-out crowd of 14,005” for a viewing party last night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Fans paid $2 to enter the Road Rally where “cheerleaders, dancers and Burnie the mascot were all decked in white.” Yesterday's Road Rally was the Heat's “most successful in the two years the franchise has held them.” The team will hold another rally for Game Two on Thursday (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/13).