You wouldn’t know it if you listened to the ultimatums, threats and predictions of doomsday, but NBA owners and players are *thisclose* to a deal. Rationally, that is. In reality, they’re as far away from a deal as the owners say they are. In other words, they could be continents away.
ESPN cited sources saying owners won’t budge from the offer they made this weekend, “no matter how close a deal seems on paper.” If no deal is struck this week, we can firmly blame the owners. They’ve already won this negotiation. Players have agreed to shoulder not just all of the owners’ reported losses, but more than that. (!!!) The system remains relatively similar to last year’s, but the players have made concessions in every major negotiating point. If the owners do not tweak their offer to make it more acceptable for players, it’s because they want to urinate on the players after they’re done knocking them out cold.
The problem is, these owners do not necessarily view these negotiations the way most humans would. They don’t look at the progression of conversations and think, “Hell, the players have already conceded more than $3 billion over a ten-year period. Maybe we should stop choking them out now.” They think, “More than $3 billion over ten years? How do we get them closer to $4 billion?”
Ken Berger of CBS Sports said if this deal breaks down, the public needs to hold owners accountable for screwing up the game we love.
But if the owners don’t get their way, who will hold them accountable for detonating a $4 billion industry and tainting the legacy of a sport in which they are mere guests — many of them freeloading ones at that?
Who in Charlotte will dare to ask Jordan where the money is going to come from to make millions in debt payments that are supposed to be backed, in part, by city tourism revenues and seat taxes at the Time Warner Cable Arena? Who in Indiana will ask Pacers owner Herb Simon why the city agreed last July to pay $33.5 million toward operating expenses at taxpayer-funded Conseco Fieldhouse to get the team to agree to stay for three years — two of which would include portions of a canceled season?
Who is going to tell Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the recently re-elected chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, that his team has leeched off Minneapolis long enough when it comes time to find another politician to sucker the electorate into paying for $155 million in renovations to the Target Center? This, in a city still saddled with debt from its takeover of the building in 1995 and where $50 million is being diverted from the city budget over the next 10 years to fund capital improvements to the building — for a team that hasn’t had a winning season in six years.
Who in Portland is going to ask Paul Allen — one of the richest men in the world and a silent assassin in the labor talks — whether he personally is going to replace the event revenues that are supposed to fund the bond debt that partially funded the Rose Garden? And while Spurs owner Peter Holt wasn’t mentioned on my sources’ list of hard-liners, as the chairman of the owners’ labor relation committee his fingerprints will be all over this death-knell proposal if it gets delivered to the players Wednesday night. Will anyone in the state of Texas, which has three NBA teams that would be idled by a season-long lockout, ask Holt to explain why the 84-percent taxpayer funded AT&T Center will be without its signature tenant and primary source of revenue?
Apparently, only the city of Memphis has noticed or decided to care. So I notice, and I care, and I regret to inform those cities that when they finally figure out what’s going on, it could be too late.
Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
Raise your hand if the lockout makes you sick, too.