ANDERSON: NBA lockout explained

For those of who have heard of the current NBA lockout that has cancelled all games for the last two weeks but don’t understand its terms, allow me to explain. In 1998-99, a lockout threatened to cancel the entire basketball season. Midway through, however, a deal was reached and the standard 82-game season was shortened to 50 games. The decision narrowly avoided a full cancellation. Part of this deal was a Collective Bargaining Agreement that called for a six-year peace between owners and players. As the June 30, 2005 expiration date neared, both sides began negotiating an extension. After some back-and-forth discussion of terms, including a clause that guaranteed that players receive 57 percent of the NBA’s “basketball-related income,” the players and owners reached a new deal that would extend until June 2011.

In early 2011, representatives from the NBA Owners Association and Players Association met to negotiate new terms. This time around, however, the gap between owners and players was much wider than during previous lockouts. Claiming their teams were collectively losing over $300 million a year, owners argued to reduce players’ salaries by 40 percent and to limit the amount of money that each team can spend on its players’ salaries each year to $45 million.

The players’ major demands are as follows:

  1. To maintain the status quo of the 2005 agreement.

  2. Fifty-seven percent of the NBA’s yearly “basketball-related income”, including ticket sales, TV contracts, advertising and concessions, ESPN reported Oct. 10

The owners’ demands include two main points:

  1. To cut player salaries leaguewide by 40 percent.

  2. To strictly cap each team’s total salary per year at $45 million.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has cancelled the entire preseason as well as the first two weeks of the regular season, including all games up until November 14th. “We remain very, very far apart on virtually all issues,” Stern said to Washington Post Sunday after closed-door negotiations between owners and players in New York this weekend. “We have a gulf that separates us. We are so far apart … we just can’t seem to close that gap.”

For the basketball-related income, which appears to be the biggest issue separating the two sides, each side has made counteroffers to the other. The players conceded to 54 percent, a 3 percent drop from the previous bargaining agreement. The owners countered with 47 percent, and last week Stern informally mentioned a 50-50 split.

Instead of helping the contending sides to reach a compromise, however, the suggestion of an even split caused talks to break down even further.

For the salary cap issue, the owners proposed a new system that is less strict than the current, inflexible “hard salary cap”. But the players quickly rejected this proposal and claimed the new system simply replaces the hard cap with a softer cap coupled with luxury taxes that essentially act in the same way as a hard cap. The luxury tax requires high payroll teams to pay more money to the NBA, thus taking more money away from the players.

The new agreement is at a stalemate. Both Stern and Derek Fisher, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and is president of the National Basketball Players Association, said that neither side is happy that games have been cancelled or that there is currently no end in sight.

If you’re a basketball fan, there’s really one thing you can do at this point: watch college basketball!

This Friday is the NCAA’s first day of official basketball practice, and games start in mid-November. With marquee teams such as Kentucky, Connecticut, UNC, Arizona, Ohio State, Duke, Syracuse and Kansas all in the preseason top 25, this season is shaping up to be a good one.

And of course, don’t forget about Yale – come out and support!

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