NBA Joins the NFL in Lockout
By Joey Kaufman/Special to LAist
With the NFL on hold, it appears as if pro basketball has followed suit.
The NBA imposed a lockout of its players at 9:01 p.m. PST Thursday following the expiration of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Both owners’ representatives and union leaders were unable to reach a new labor deal following a three-hour meeting in New York earlier in the day, putting the 2011-2012 season in jeopardy as a result.
"We didn't see any other option," NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters. “I'm not scared. I'm resigned to the potential damage that it can cause to our league.”
Both sides are reportedly far apart on nearly every major issue, from player salaries, to the salary cap and to revenue sharing, as they hope to negotiate a new CBA.
Since the previous CBA was ratified in 2005, owners claim they have lost hundreds of millions every season, and according to league officials, 22 of its 30 teams are unprofitable with a combined loss of $300 million last season.
In turn, the owners hope to impose a stronger salary cap, as well as cut the players’ 57 percent share of basketball revenue, as established in the last labor deal.
“They haven’t changed that,” Lakers guard and president of the NBA Players Association Derek Fisher said. “There was nothing new from them in terms of their proposal.”
As a result, all league business is now officially on hold, beginning with the free agency period, which would have begun today, and extending to the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas, which has been canceled.
If found to be in violation of the lockout by contacting players, teams are expected to face fines worth roughly $1 million, according to ESPN’s Ric Bucher. In some instances, punishments might not simply be monetary either.
Additionally, under that lockout agreement, NBA teams' websites, including NBA.com, are prevented from posting images and references to current players. Their names, photos, videos and all other forms of likeness were removed as a result of the labor strife. In their place, fans will see various forms of advertisement.
This is the NBA’s third work stoppage, and first since the shortened 50-game 1998-1999 season, following a lockout that last 204 days and did not end until Jan. 6, 1999. Most, however, anticipate this one to be even worse, a disappointing sign considering the league’s increase in ratings during the postseason and NBA finals.
"We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game,” Stern said. “It just wasn't a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn't one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in. The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete."