The only good thing about the NBA lockout? Writers are stepping to the plate and launching tape-measure home runs.
For all the talk about the Robert Sarvers, the most strident of the hardliners thrust himself to the forefront of fear that this could be a lost basketball season. For the past 15 years, Allen’s been the wildest of wild spenders, the salary cap-buster hell-bent on buying an NBA title. Outrageous contracts, $3 million a pop to purchase late draft picks. And now, the NBA’s board of governors found him the perfect candidate to be the bearer of gloom and doom in Thursday’s meeting, even when a union attorney Jeffrey Kessler said: “I thought we were making progress toward a deal.”
These are the mind games the owners will play with the players, all the way to a January deadline to cancel the season. They’ll be Lucy to the players’ Charlie Brown, pulling that ball away again and again. This is a high-stakes game full of backward agendas and hidden motives. Here’s the scariest part of it all for those who want labor talks to have a puncher’s chance at saving the season: Allen appears to be checking out on the Blazers, and there’s suspicion that his motives center on saving as much money as possible in this CBA to eventually ready his franchise for a sale.
“He’s gone the other way, the complete other way,” a high-ranking league official told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s been the most vociferous lately that [the owners] have given up too much to the players, that they should be holding out for a hard cap, for 40 percent to the players [on the revenue split]. No one has gone after the labor committee harder about this than him.”
[Paul] Allen is Garnett on steroids.
You want stubborn? Allen rode his pipe dream of running a cable company all the way to the ground, losing billions of dollars and eventually declaring bankruptcy.
You want off his rocker? He’s currently being sued by his own ex-military bodyguards for allegations of illegal activity, his helicopter recently crashed during an excursion to Antarctica and, oh yeah, he’s gone through two general managers and a vice president of basketball operations since the 2010 NBA Draft. He passes his time, including on Thursday morning, exchanging tweets about what rock song the Seattle Seahawks, his NFL franchise, should play at practice. Carroll plays along, of course, because he, like every Allen employee, knows his job depends on it.
You want “uninformed” on the state of the negotiations? Allen deputized team president Larry Miller to attend Board of Governors meetings and labor negotiations on his behalf. He put exactly the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into the possibility of a labor agreement as Garnett: none.
You want emotional? Allen recently wrote an autiobiography that included many unflattering stories about, and a recounting of decades-old grudges towards, his Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. The book led to a falling out between the two men, who had been friends since high school, with Allen admitting during a television interview that Gates had stopped talking to him.
Guaranteed profits for poor basketball businessmen should be guaranteed no more thanRashad McCants’(notes) second NBA contract. The owners are flat wrong, in every way. Wrong in the way they purchased their teams, wrong in how they’ve run them, wrong in how they’ve handled this lockout (even to their own hoped-for ends), and wrong in the way they have not bargained in good faith. The owners never wanted to play in November.
And you have made concessions, real concessions, NBA players. And this isn’t coming from someone dying to start writing about NBA games again. Frankly, I’m burned out, even with no games in four months. I could use the break I didn’t get during the offseason. The owners are being prats. I get that, players. You’ve given in, and they haven’t; despite their talk of “concessions.”
It’s time, though. Because it’s only going to get worse. No, David Stern didn’t technically break the union; but he did unofficially. Just in the same way that Derrick Rose(notes) doesn’t really break Andre Miller’s(notes)actual ankles — he just gets to waltz in for the easy lay-in, while his team goes up real, real big.
And there’s no coming back from this deficit.
Anyway, there you have it. If you want to understand what’s driving the lockout and why it could last all year and why the owners are willing to jeopardize the future of the league to keep this going, it all comes down to a handful of issues that are misleading at best and in some cases downright lies. But David Stern and the NBA owners think you’ll believe. And whether you believe or not, they think the players will cave.
And as someone that loves basketball more than just about anything on earth, it makes me sad. Not even because we’re going to miss a lot of great basketball. It’s because if there’s common thread to all the issues above—other than greed, dishonesty, and ignorance—it’s the owners’ fundamental lack of understanding of the NBA.
That’s what’s killing the league right now.
Dan Gilbert’s company, Quicken Loans, was one of the worst offenders in the housing bubble, offering scores of subprime loans to unqualified buyers, pumping up the real estate market until it burst, contributing to a collapse of the global financial markets and at least one bonafide U.S. recession. Gilbert wasn’t alone — plenty of banks got too loose in the name of profit and stupidity but mostly profit. But Quicken Loans was a big player in this game.
As such, Dan Gilbert doesn’t get to tell anyone to “trust his gut” in a business deal. Dan Gilbert can’t drop an ultimatum on someone, tell them to trust him and get away with it. Of all the delusion, the brand torching, the picking over carcasses that the NBA’s vultures have done over the past four month, nothing tops this. Nothing tops Dan Gilbert asking players to trust him. How could you blame anyone from laughing in his face?
In the end, it is David Stern and Adam Silver who need to get Allen, Holt and Gilbert — and the 26 other owners — back in line, back on a path to solutions, not union-busting. That is, of course, unless Billy Hunter is right, and this was the end-game all along.
If so, God help us. Our world can only survive so much bulls–t, and these owners are adding to the tally every single day.
There are hard-liners among the owners who refuse to give the players a dime more than 50 percent, and some harder-liners who were reluctant to go even that far. But you know what? There are hard-liners on the union side, too — agents and super agents and clusters of seven agents who didn’t want to go a dime below 53 percent. I know of at least one powerful agent who never thought the players should have offered anything below 57 percent — the share they received under the previous six-year deal.
The difference? Fisher and Hunter have successfully excluded those hard-liners from the bargaining process, all the way up to Thursday, when sources told CBSSports.com that some agents were still working the phones and telling their clients to “hold firm” and reject any deal below 53 percent. Hunter and Fisher ignored them and offered to go lower on Thursday — to 52.5 percent if revenues came in as projected and as low as 50 percent if they came in lower.
The league has not only been unable to keep hard-line owners from influencing the negotiations, they couldn’t even keep them out of the room Thursday.
Of course, other than all the tremendous writing being published today, this lockout sucks.