NBA Lockout


Times have changed. Players need to follow suit.

Markazi By Arash Markazi


MarkaziBy Arash Markazi

By definition of the term "lockout," the owners are to blame for the current work stoppage in the NBA. The players want to go back to work and earn the same wages that were agreed upon in their contracts. The owners are standing in their way and locking them out of the league. They have removed them from the league's websites and TV network. As far as I can tell by watching old games on NBA TV and reading old stories on, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton are still tearing up the league.

The problem is the owners are not at fault here. Sure, some of them probably paid too much for their teams and are not getting a bigger return on their investment. And, yes, many of them overpaid for average players, handing out max contracts to guys for showing up and even some who didn't. Yes, I'm looking at you Joe Johnson and your six-year, $123 million contract.

Somewhere along the way, the system broke down and at least half the teams in the league, according to the NBA, are losing money. Sure, the owners are to blame for putting themselves in this financial situation. It's not like Johnson was going to say he didn't deserve the contract the Atlanta Hawks offered him. But radical changes need to be made to improve the health and long-term viability of the league. The players don't want to hear that. They want to continue getting guaranteed nine-figure deals, but those days have come and gone. No one is immune to the crumbling economy anymore. Not even Joe Johnson.

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Owners are to blame for lockout

Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne


ShelburneBy Ramona Shelburne

Last I checked, we are still waiting to hear the details of the owners' new revenue sharing plan. I know they've said they have an outline of what it might look like, but until they present any details of that plan publicly or to the players association, I'm inclined to believe they don't really have one yet. And I'm even more convinced there are enough owners who decided years ago that the only way to get the players to give up enough in these negotiations was to force them to start missing paychecks. While the more level-headed, pragmatic owners worked hard to broker an 11th-hour compromise the past few weeks, I think it's pretty clear that there was a hard-line faction of owners who were never going to accept a deal now, before seeing what kind of deal the players would agree to after they started missing games. This was, in other words, a predetermined outcome.

For months, the owners have argued that the NBA's problems are systemic and can only be fixed with radical changes. That's entirely true, but maybe not for the reasons you might think. Like the rest of America, too many NBA teams were purchased for more than they are currently worth, with money their owners were only hoping would be there. Now all those loans are coming due and the profits those owners thought they'd be making off their teams aren't there, or aren't big enough to cover even the debt service on those purchases. Without selling off assets or restructuring the league, the only way to try to fix that is to get back as much as possible from the players.

The NBA players currently have the best labor deal in all of professional sports. It's understandable why they don't want to give that up so easily. The thing is, they already have given up quite a bit through the course of these negotiations, essentially giving back enough money to cover the owners' reported losses. The problem is much deeper than those reported losses, though. It was never going to be solved without a painful fight.