The NBA Lockout: Here’s What You Need to Know
The players want the NBA to be more like Major League Baseball. The owners want the NBA to be more like the NFL.
As if we didn’t have enough labor crises already, the NBA has become the second major sports organization to enter a player lockout. Could 2012 be a year without basketball? (Or football?) We’re here to guide you, step by step, through the squabble that could take down the $4 billion industry of professional hoops.
What’s the NBA dispute about, in a nutshell?
The players want the NBA to be more like Major League Baseball. They want huge player salaries that are guaranteed to pay out, even if the player under-performs.
The owners want the NBA to be more like the NFL. They want smaller player salaries, more “revenue sharing,” and the ability to let players go if they don’t perform.
How did we get here? The NBA expects to lose $300 million this season after losing more than $300 million last season. Those losses aren’t concentrated in a handful of clubs. Two thirds of the NBA’s 30 teams will lose money this year, Commissioner David Stern said.
Owners currently pay players about 57 percent of their gross team revenue. If they paid closer to 50 percent of the pie, they might be in the black. That’s what this fight is about: Designing a system that allows teams to offer players competitive salaries without bankrupting smaller teams.
What’s the difference between a “hard” and “soft” salary cap?
A salary cap is a spending limit on your players. The NFL has what’s called a “hard” cap. There are very few exceptions where teams can spend above the limit on players. This makes teams more competitive. It also means that owners don’t get into a horse race to see who can pay the most money.
The NBA has what’s called a “soft” cap. The official limit is about $58 million, but teams can go over that in all sorts of ways. The most famous is the “Larry Bird Exception” that allows teams to resign players above the cap without it counting.
Most basketball teams spend above the cap. Boston, New York and the Los Angeles Lakers can spend more than $100 million, while Minnesota spends less than $50 million. Like major league baseball, teams that spend way above the cap pay a luxury tax that is redistributed throughout the league.
What do the owners want, and why?
The owners want more money. First, they are asking for a one-third reduction in player salaries. Right now, owners are required to spend nearly 60% of team revenue on players. They want to bring that down closer to 40%.
Second, they want a hard cap.
Third, they want “non-guaranteed contracts.” This will let them cut, or renegotiate with, a player who under-performs. One of the highest paid players in the league right now is Rashard Lewis. He’s guaranteed to make $21 million in the final two years of his contract. In the last two seasons he’s played only 50 games and averaged half the point total of Dwyane Wade. The owners want to be able to get out of those contracts.
Fourth, the owners — particularly owners in smaller markets — want more aggressive “revenue sharing” so that teams that spend like New York and LA do more to subsidize teams that spend like Minnesota and Charlotte.
What do the players want, and why?
The players want more money, too. They want to keep guaranteed contracts because that’s guaranteed money. They’re opposed to the hard cap because that caps their salaries. In particular, a hard cap would keep the wealthier teams from bidding competitively on players.
The players union also wants revenue sharing to be part of the collective bargaining agreement so they can force teams at the lower end to spend more on player salaries.
Will there be a 2011-2012 NBA season?
“The NBA lockout is going to be a lot more contentious and prolonged than the NFL,” said Jeffrey Standen, a professor of sports law at Willamette University and author of The Sports Law Professor blog.
“The owners in the NFL have the basic structure of the collective bargaining agreement,” he continued. “The revenue percentage. The rookie salary compensation scheme. It shouldn’t be too bad of a negotiation. In the NBA, the owners want some fundamental changes to the collective bargaining agreement.”
Why has the looming NBA lockout received less attention than the NFL lockout?
Maybe because football is the king of sports. It’s a more distinct season. It holds the fall to itself. Also, the NBA is a long, spread-out affair. If basketball misses a third of its regular season, it still has 55 games. If football misses a third of its season, you’re down to 10 games.
What might a final deal look like?
If owners can cut player salaries, as a percentage of gross team revenue, by a sixth, and then get concessions on players’ rights (perhaps by eliminating sign-and-trade deals), we might get a deal.
What can I say about the power of players in sports that will make me sound really smart? Will Leitch writes in The Atlantic about how workers in sports (that is, athletes) are learning to* control their business to a degree unlike any other industry in the country:
LeBron’s example marks an evolution in athlete culture, one in which players realize their power. You’re seeing this everywhere now, from the NFL and NBA labor battles to the better understanding of concussions and athlete safety. For their part, fans are better educated than they’ve ever been (thanks to the Web) and are starting to side with the players in kerfuffles like labor disputes. Fans used to feel that owners somehow “earned” their money, while pro athletes were just fortunate winners of a genetic lottery. This is the exact opposite of the truth. (Holding on to your job is about 95 million times harder for a player than for an owner.) Sure, guys like LeBron and Carmelo Anthony are seen as mercenaries, but from a business standpoint, we understand their leverage … and even appreciate and envy it*
Why was the 2011/12 NBA season shortened?
With the new deal in place, the regular season was shortened from the normal 82 games per team to 66, because of nearly two months of inactivity. …
How was the NBA lockout resolved?
After nearly five months of often-contentious negotiations that eventually prompted the players to disband their union and file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA, the two sides finally agreed to a deal that would allow players to receive a 49 to 51 percent “band” of basketball-related income, which would be linked …
Why was there a NBA lockout in 2011?
Owners wanted to implement a hard salary cap and a harsher luxury tax, hoping to increase competition among teams, whereas players wanted to keep the current soft salary cap structure intact. As both sides failed to reach an agreement, the NBA canceled the preseason and all games through December.
Why did the NBA lockout in 1998?
The 1998–99 NBA lockout was the third lockout of four in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) opposed the owners’ plans and wanted raises for players who earned the league’s minimum salary. …
Will the NFL have a lockout in 2021?
NFLPA Votes To Approve New CBA, Enacting 17-Game Season And Ensuring 10 Years Of NFL Labor Peace. BOSTON (CBS) — There will be no NFL lockout in 2021. … The expanded playoff field will begin in 2020, while the 17-game regular season will begin in 2021.
What does a lockout mean in sports?
In professional sports, a lockout is the shutdown of a professional sports league by team owners, usually due to a failure to come to an agreement about payment conditions.
What does an NBA lockout mean?
The lockout was officially started by the owners on July 1, 2011, during which, teams could not trade, sign or contact players, and players could not access NBA team facilities, trainers or staffs.
Which NBA player won Most Valuable Player for the 1999 2000 season?
Who won the NBA championship during the lockout season?
San Antonio Spurs
Will there be an NFL strike?
“If players vote no, it’s simple: there will either be a lockout in 2021 or we will strike. … NFL owners have already voted in favor of the new 10-year agreement, which would give the league an option to add an extra week to the regular season.
What does lockout season mean?
In professional sports, a lockout is the shutdown of a professional sports league by team owners, usually due to a failure to come to an agreement about payment conditions.
How long was the NFL lockout?
The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement on July 25, 2011, ending the NFL’s 132-day lockout.
What happened to the NBA in 2011?
November 15, 2011: The NBA canceled all games through December 15. Players filed antitrust lawsuits against the NBA in Chicago and New Mexico federal courts. November 26, 2011: The NBA owners and players reached a tentative agreement to end the lockout.
What does locked out mean?
1. phrasal verb. If someone locks you out of a place, they prevent you entering it by locking the doors. His wife locked him out of their bedroom after the argument.
What caused the NFL lockout 2011?
The seeds of the lockout began in 2008, when the NFL owners opted out of the previous agreement, leaving 2010 to be played without a salary cap, and setting the expiration of the CBA for March 1, 2011.
Which NBA player has the most Mvps?
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“It Was All About Money”: An Oral History of the 1998-99 NBA Lockout
The NBA was never more popular than during the 1998 NBA Finals. A rematch from 1997, the series pitted the pick-and-roll brilliance of Stockton and Malone’s Utah Jazz against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the league’s most successful dynasty since Bill Russell’s Celtics. An air of finality shrouded the series, and not just because Bulls head coach Phil Jackson had dubbed the 1997-98 season “The Last Dance”; Jackson, Jordan (who was once again contemplating retirement), Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were all impending free agents. But it wasn’t just the Bulls who were about to face a murky future.
On March 23, 1998, team owners voted to reopen the 1995 collective bargaining agreement. A provision in the deal allowing second-year players to sign massive contract extensions, such as a then-record six-year, $126 million deal for Kevin Garnett, had become a poison pill for owners. In response, the owners sought substantial cost-control measures that would reshape the NBA. Everything from guaranteed contracts to a hard salary cap was on the table. A lockout was inevitable.
“There is nobody in the NBA who thought it would be business as usual coming out of that season,” says Bob Whitsitt, then the Portland Trail Blazers’ president and general manager. “If someone didn’t expect a lockout for at least the summer, they didn’t really know what they were doing.”
Game 6 of the 1998 Finals, the last NBA game that would be played for more than six months, was a satisfying end to an era. In the highest-rated game in league history, 35. 89 million viewers watched Jordan hit a game-winning pull-up from the top of the key, clinching the Bulls’ third consecutive championship, and their sixth in eight seasons. Seventeen days later, the owners locked out the players.
The work stoppage was a disaster. With volatile personalities at the forefront and backbiting among players, owners, and agents, the 1998-99 NBA lockout spanned 204 days and resulted in the loss of about $500 million in total player salaries and more than $1 billion overall. Fan interest crumbled. Reputations were damaged. The NBA would never be the same. This is the story behind one of the most bitter and bizarre labor disputes in sports history.
Founded in 1954, the National Basketball Players Association didn’t accomplish much until the 1964 NBA All-Star Game, which the players threatened to boycott unless certain demands were met: a pension plan, a formal recognition that the NBPA was the exclusive bargaining agent of the players, and a per diem of $8 per day. The stakes were high—this was the league’s first nationally televised All-Star Game. NBA president Walter Kennedy caved a few minutes before tipoff, acquiescing to the players association’s demands.
The NBPA had strong leadership. Early union presidents were titans of the sport, future Hall of Famers who went by nicknames like Cooz, Tommy, and the Big O, while Bronx lawyer Larry Fleischer, another future Hall of Famer, served as general counsel for more than 25 years. But in 1983, with the league in financial peril, the players negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that included a revenue-sharing, soft-salary-cap model, the first of its kind in the four major professional sports leagues. The plan worked and the NBA thrived throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with both revenue and player salaries growing at a rate that made a clash inevitable.
Ron Klempner (NBPA lawyer): Oh, there was no doubt a lockout was coming. This was in the making for 15 years.
Vince Carter (Toronto Raptors guard): There was all this talk about “Lockout, lockout, lockout.”
David Falk (agent): From the day the cap was instituted, it placed the players and the league in a fixed economic relationship. And once you fix the relationship, the only variable is how big is the pie that you’re splitting. You can say categorically that since 1983 the principal job of the union is to grow revenue with the league and to act as partners with the league.
Charles Grantham (NBPA executive director, 1988-95): There was a time when there was a balance. In the 1980s, when we were both suffering, we had to get together collectively to make this work. Then, at a certain point, once the revenue reached into the billions, where it’s at now, greed seeps in. And once the greed comes in it’s, “Wait a minute. You guys were getting, say, 53 percent, maybe you should get 47.”
Klempner: They put in place the salary cap, but didn’t really know what they were doing. It was very soft; there were lots of ways you could exceed the cap. As soon as they signed it, the owners realized that they needed to fix it and they did that in 1988.
“[Billy Hunter] definitely expressed no fear of David Stern. He said he would kick his ass, if need be.” —Ron Klempner, NBPA lawyer
Grantham: Part of me leaving in 1995 was that I really pressed to maintain what we had at the time. Remember what that deal did in ’88. It reduced the draft to two rounds. There was no rookie wage scale. There was no age limitation. … The reality is that I wanted more for the players than they wanted for themselves. But once you don’t have support from leadership then you have to make a decision. … [Former NBA deputy commissioner] Simon Gourdine followed me. He was fired after a year because of the deal he negotiated.
Dan Wasserman (NBPA spokesman): Simon was perceived as having done a deal in secret with David Stern. [The NBA did not respond to an interview request for David Stern. ]
Klempner: Simon had a background working in the league office; he had been deputy commissioner. … There was a handshake deal in June of 1995, but the players revolted. They tried to decertify the union because based on the Supreme Court case [Brown v. Pro Football Inc.], the only way to sue was to decertify. [Under labor law, a lockout becomes an illegal conspiracy if there is no union.] So an effort was made to decertify the union. We were locked out in the summer of 1995 and the players voted on decertification after the summer.
Jeffrey Kessler (chief outside counsel for the union): I ended up representing the dissident players led by Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan. [The Georgetown media relations department did not respond to an interview request for Patrick Ewing.]
Klempner: The owners saw that decertification would not be in their best interests, so they eventually gave concessions that made the deal palatable. The players voted not to decertify and there was a deal that was put in place. [The decertification vote failed 226-134.] We eliminated restricted free agency in ’95. If you were a second-round pick you could sign a one-year deal and then be completely unrestricted. There was a three-year rookie wage scale, but you were a complete free agent after three years.
Jim McIlvaine (Seattle SuperSonics center, NBPA secretary/treasurer, negotiating committee member): Both the players and owners thought it wasn’t a good deal. Obviously that’s why the owners wanted to reopen it, and the players saw some areas for improvement as well.
Klempner: As part of the deal, if player salaries grew past a certain point, the owners retained a right to opt out of the deal. You knew they weren’t happy. You knew they had this opt-out. And you knew that if salaries reached this certain level, forget it.
Following a prolonged search, Billy Hunter was hired to replace Simon Gourdine. A former kick returner in the NFL turned federal attorney, Hunter had prosecuted the Hells Angels, the Black Panther Party, and the surviving acolytes of Jim Jones’s People’s Temple. He then transitioned into defense work, opening his own firm in 1984; MC Hammer and the tobacco companies were among his more notorious clients. Hunter was boisterous and tough—which, in the wake of Gourdine, was exactly what the union was looking for in its leader.
Billy Hunter (NBPA executive director, 1996-2013): I had anticipated that one day I might become a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, start out in district court, go become an appellate judge or become district attorney in San Francisco.
Klempner: A search firm called Spencer Stuart was hired and went out and identified candidates, none of which were Billy Hunter. Dave Bing thought that Billy, with his legal background, would be a good candidate and he called [then union VP] Charles Smith. Charles mentioned it to me and I passed the name along to the firm. The firm, I have to say, were more interested in the candidates they had found. Billy didn’t necessarily fit their profile, for whatever reason.
“Hunter came in with guns blazing, kind of got guys fired up.” —Will Perdue, San Antonio Spurs center
Hunter: I was interviewed by [then union president] Herb Williams, Buck Williams, Charles Smith and one or two others a couple of weeks before the All-Star break. Later, Buck told me they were going to hire a headhunter group. I told Buck, “Look, I don’t want to go through another interview with a third party.” Buck gave me the assurance I wouldn’t. As time grew near, I received a call from Ron Klempner telling me that the search committee was going to interview me. I said, “That’s not the deal I cut with Buck Williams.” The headhunters tried convincing me how important it was. I said, “No way. I’m a big boy. I know there’s a lot of politics involved in this thing. I’ll just take my chance. I won’t be interviewed. You can put that in your report.”
Klempner: [Billy] was included in the group of candidates that addressed the players.
Chris Dudley (New York Knicks center, NBPA negotiating committee member): Billy took a more aggressive stance, was willing to be a little more confrontational. A lot of the players were looking for that.
Hunter: I remember being in a room with 35 players and, for some reason, they seemed to focus on what kind of image I would present to David Stern. I think they felt as though they had been sold out in the past. I told them that they didn’t have to worry about that with me.
Will Perdue (San Antonio Spurs center): Hunter came in with guns blazing, kind of got guys fired up.
NBPA executive director Billy HunterAP Images
Klempner: He had a very strong personality. He actually brought his Bible into the meeting as I recall and was literally thumping the Bible and talking about what a force the players could be and how he would be able to lead them. He definitely expressed no fear of David Stern. He said he would kick his ass, if need be.
Hunter: I spent a lot of time reading and studying the Bible. At one time I attended theology school and was torn as to whether or not I should be in the pulpit or practicing law. I may have taken a Bible with me. I’m not going to deny it. That sounds like something I would have done.
Kessler: Billy Hunter was now in there and determined to show he was not going to roll over.
Hunter: After I got the job, the headhunters asked for the bonus they were supposed to receive. I think their fee was $150,000 or something astronomical and they would get an extra $50-75,000 if they found the person selected. My response was under no circumstances can you get that bonus because you didn’t find me.
Klempner: The players felt like they needed a strong presence to counteract and stand up to David Stern and somebody who was going to fight really hard. [The Latrell Sprewell suspension] gave him his first opportunity to do it. The issues were disciplinary in nature, though, not economic. Yes, Sprewell lost his contract, which we gained back through Feerick.
In March 1998, arbitrator John D. Feerick, the dean of Fordham University Law School, reduced Sprewell’s suspension by five months and ordered that the Golden State Warriors reinstate the remainder of the All-Star swingman’s four-year, $32 million contract; the Warriors had terminated Sprewell’s pact after he choked and punched head coach P.J. Carlesimo during a December 1997 practice.
“On the day I decided the Sprewell case, I remember coming from church, St. Paul’s Apostle’s church, across the street from campus here,” Feerick says, sitting in his office on Fordham’s Manhattan campus. “When the decision came out, the commissioner issued a press release that had negative comments about the arbitration decision.”
“The answer is now well established,” NBA commissioner David Stern said following the decision, “you cannot choke your boss and hold your job unless you play in the NBA and you are subject to arbitrator Feerick’s jurisdiction.”
The battle between the league and the union over Sprewell’s guaranteed contract was the latest episode in a relationship that had turned adversarial. Escalating player contracts added to the tension, none more so than the six-year, $126 million extension Kevin Garnett signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in October 1997, then the largest contract in team sports history.
Jim Thomas (Sacramento Kings owner): That was shocking. It was very upsetting. All of the players look at what the other players were making, so that set a precedent, meaning that all of the players were going to compare themselves to that. Most of them were going to believe they deserved more.
Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics forward): I had just finished my first two years and so I was up for a contract extension. My mind-set was that I was going to get the same type of contract [as Kevin Garnett]. I had just made my first All-Star team in ’98. I was top 10 in scoring and rebounding, so I knew I had the numbers to be granted a big, long-term deal. Kevin Garnett set the market for guys.
Damon Stoudamire (Portland Trail Blazers guard): The owners might have looked at KG’s contract, but me, I looked at Big Country’s contract. I think Big Country [Bryant Reeves] got like six years, $60 million at the time. I’m looking at that contract and I’m thinking, “I don’t know what I’m going to get, but I’m going to get something.”
Dudley: It showed the players that the league was successful and there was money out there.
Thomas: We were losing money and it wasn’t sustainable.
NBA commissioner David SternASSOCIATED PRESS
Dan Issel (Denver Nuggets general manager): There wasn’t the television revenue that you have today, so the small-market teams were getting beat up. I know the Nuggets weren’t making money in those days.
Kessler: We didn’t believe it. Their financials are more works of art than they are actual financial statements. These are privately held businesses for the most part, so you can do all sorts of stuff and bury things in the footnotes to say you’re not making money.
Dudley: There was a lack of trust. The owners would sometimes cry poverty and say they weren’t making money. Why are you buying your team for $10 million and selling it for $150 million, and then crying poverty?
Klempner: The owners came to this conclusion that they had to do something. They could not sustain this model. David Stern believed that with every inch of his being and he was going to do whatever it took to make it happen.
The six-year CBA signed in September 1995 included a three-year opt-out clause for owners if player salaries exceeded 51.8 percent of basketball-related income. With $100 million deals inked by Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, and Alonzo Mourning leading the way, player salaries exceeded 57 percent during the 1997-98 season. And so on March 23, 1998, the owners voted to reopen the CBA by a 27-2 margin.
Negotiations started on April 1, but ceased in late June after nine bargaining sessions concluded with both sides far apart. A May 27 proposal from the owners included a hard cap, the elimination of the Larry Bird exception, and a five-year rookie wage scale with right of first refusal. The offer also proposed that no player could earn over 30 percent of a team’s total salary cap, capping individual player salaries at around $10 million per season.
What would become the longest lockout in NBA history started at 12:01 a.m. ET on the morning of Wednesday, July 1, 1998.
With the exception of previously scheduled charity games, all league activities halted. No free-agent signings. No trades. No summer camps. Team workout facilities were shuttered. There was to be no contact between teams and players. For the rookie class of 1998, it was an inauspicious introduction to the league.
Carter: Once draft night happens, I remember going to Toronto and talking to [Raptors general manager] Glen Grunwald and it kind of was like, “Basically you have a couple of days here, try to find a place because after next week there is no more contact.” They told me some things they wanted me to work on and that was kind of really it. … It was like, “All right, have a good summer. I guess I’ll see you whenever.”
Glen Grunwald (Toronto Raptors general manager): I know [Raptors head coach] Butch [Carter] wanted him to become a one-foot jumper because he jumped off two feet. His jump shot was pretty good, but obviously he needed to work on that, too.
Vince Carter, Stern, and Antawn Jamison at the 1998 NBA draft after the two players were tradedNBAE/Getty Images
Carter: I went back to school. I did a semester at [Chapel Hill] and worked out at the gym with Antawn Jamison, Shammond Williams, and Makhtar N’Diaye. After the team finished practice we’d go to the gym and go through our own workouts, NBA workouts, with Coach [Dean] Smith. It was funny because he was showing us a jab jumper. There was no way in the world you would be allowed to do that in a game in his system. I remember looking at Antawn like, “Do you see this?” And Coach was like, “You’re going to need this move in the league.”
Shammond Williams (Atlanta Hawks guard): Coach Smith gave me that jab jumper during my junior year.
Carter: I had my Puma deal. I was living mostly off the advance and sneaker money.
Williams: I was one of the few second-round picks to have a shoe deal, maybe not as lucrative as Vince or Antawn. I was fortunate enough though to have a credit line and I had done an internship at Lincoln Financial Group. One thing that really helped, and it shows you the kind of individual Coach Smith was, was that once you had no more eligibility he would have us come back and work his basketball camp and give us a check for, I think, $10,000.
The NBPA’s nine-person executive committee was filled with heavy hitters. Elected union president in September 1997, New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing led an All-Star team that included Dikembe Mutombo and Juwan Howard. This was perceived as both an asset and a deficiency. Even the most hawkish of hardline owners listened more intently when a superstar opined. But, in this case, these superstars shared an agent: David Falk, the dealmaker who led the decertification movement in 1995, and was the most powerful man in the NBA not named David Stern or Michael Jordan—who, by the way, was a Falk client.
Keith Glass (agent): Where David was smart was he got his players involved in the union. It could have been very easy for him to just take his percentage, which was sizable, and not educate guys on how important it was going to be.
Falk: From the very beginning Billy Hunter was very, very opaque. He did not provide much information. He didn’t communicate much. I told my clients, “Listen, this is your livelihood and if I can’t access Billy, then you have to get involved and know what’s going on and sit down and plan out strategies on how to protect your interests.” They’re intelligent people. Patrick is a very intelligent man. Juwan Howard is a very intelligent man. Alonzo is a very intelligent man. Dikembe Mutombo is a very intelligent man. People accused me of trying to hijack the union—you couldn’t pay me a billion dollars a year to run the union. I have zero interest in doing that. But I think if I’m going to do my job for my clients, it’s important that I understand the dynamics of what’s going on. And so that’s why I had to get involved.
Agent David FalkGetty Images
McIlvaine: There were concerns and reservations that there was too much influence from David Falk.
Kevin Willis (Houston Rockets center): Falk had his guys there and they made all the money and they basically called the shots.
Jayson Williams (New Jersey Nets center): I like David Falk. I love Michael Jordan. But I saw David Falk and those guys and they thought they were running the league at that time. And then understand something right from the top: Georgetown vs. St. John’s. As soon as I saw there were three or four Georgetown guys on the committee, I said, “Aww, hell no.”
Danny Schayes (Orlando Magic center; NBPA negotiating committee member): David Falk’s theory about the NBA was that it was star-driven and that the labor agreement should reflect that: there should be unlimited contracts for the superstars; most of the other players were interchangeable parts; the bulk of the money should go to the players he represents; and the rest of the players would divide up what’s left.
Falk: This is really the overarching theme and I’ve been saying this since I was in my 20s: No matter what system you have—a hard cap, soft cap, no cap—you’re always going to pay more money for the LeBrons and Jordans and Kobes and Ewings and Olajuwons and Birds and Magics. Always. Those are the stars of the movie. To me, the biggest crime is that people like LeBron or Anthony Davis or Kobe, they should be making $80 million, maybe $100 million, because their contributions are so unique on and off the court.
Schayes: The other 90 percent of the players didn’t feel that way, but Falk was the biggest power broker in the league at the time. Billy Hunter needed a way to balance that. So instead of having the executive committee be the negotiators, he created a separate negotiating committee and conversely filled it with guys like Tyrone Corbin and Mark West and me, veterans who were not Falk guys. It was specifically designed to balance the David Falk factor.
Hunter addresses the media after negotiators failed to reach an agreement on December 3, 1998. With him are Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, union president Patrick Ewing, and Danny Schayes.ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hunter: I really didn’t think of it that way. Ewing was on the negotiating committee. Juwan Howard was on it. Zo was on it.
Klempner: All the negotiating committee could do was recommend a deal because by our constitution, a collective bargaining agreement has to be ratified by a majority of the entire membership.
Wasserman: The policy always was if you wanted to come to a union meeting, if you wanted to come to a negotiating session, you were welcome. Billy did a good job keeping people informed of what was going on.
Hunter: To alleviate the players’ fear that someone might try to cut a deal that was not beneficial to them, any player at any time was welcome to sit in when we were negotiating. I opened up the process.
At first, the negotiating committee did not do much negotiating. Stern and Hunter did not meet until three weeks into the lockout, a 90-minute breakfast meeting on July 21.
Both sides postured. On July 23, the union filed an unfair labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, contending that the lockout was unlawful. Then, at the August 6 negotiations, during the first formal dialogue since June 22, the owners abruptly, and theatrically, ended the session 15 minutes after returning from lunch. “The owners just got up and walked out,” B.J. Armstrong remembers.
Though the NLRB helped resolve the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike, it would sit this labor dispute out. On August 13, the union dropped its charge once it became apparent that the board deemed their complaint meritless. “The union had alleged that the lockout had been imposed before it reached impasse, but the law was clear, as I recall, that you don’t have to reach impasse before you strike or lock out,” Daniel Silverman, the board’s regional director, says today. “Those are economic weapons and each party is free to do it. The lockout wasn’t unlawful for that reason.”
The union had already turned to another gambit, having filed a grievance in federal court on behalf of the 200 or so players with guaranteed contracts who were not being paid during the lockout. Their argument was that a guaranteed contract is guaranteed even in a work stoppage. The union then took the case to arbitration.
A decision in the players’ favor would have essentially ended the lockout, and so negotiations stalled until arbitrator John Feerick’s ruling, which had an October 19 deadline. In the meantime, perfunctory talks ensued, players attempted to stay in shape, and team employees found ways to keep busy.
Issel: We kept preparing as if we were going to have a season the next day. We would get together in the morning with the coaching staff and go over personnel and talk about training camp and talk about what our practices would look like. But as the lockout went on, we’d get together for a couple of hours in the morning, talk about the team, and then play cards the rest of the day.
“You had 29 sophisticated billionaires against 400 college dropouts. From that standpoint it’s always an uneven negotiation” —Danny Schayes
Mike Dunleavy (Portland Trail Blazers coach): The lockout probably helped my golf game.
Wally Blase (Chicago Bulls assistant athletic trainer): It got to the point where people were getting laid off, so me and the equipment guy started painting the entire practice facility just to justify why we were coming into work every day.
Williams: Me and Anthony Mason were supposed to wrestle Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman.
McIlvaine: Now guys seem to live in L.A. But when I was in the league, a lot of guys spent their summers in Houston and Chicago.
Mario Elie (Houston Rockets guard): There was a place here in Houston called the Westside Tennis Club and a lot of NBA players would get together and play pickup.
Juwan Howard puts up a shot against Chris MillsAFP/Getty Images
Juwan Howard (Washington Wizards forward, NBPA negotiating committee member): Back then, Chicago was one of those gateways where guys would come and work out in the offseason and play pickup ball. I was always able to find a good run in the offseason. Guys would fly in from all parts of the country to work out in Chicago. Antoine Walker was there. Michael Finley. Ray Allen would come.
Aaron McKie (Philadelphia 76ers guard): Being in Philadelphia, which is close to New York, close to New Jersey, guys were calling like, “Hey, are you guys playing pickup this weekend?”
Michael Finley (Dallas Mavericks guard): There was so much uncertainty, I was afraid to go on vacation. I didn’t want to be on the beach, and then hear that the season was starting tomorrow and not be prepared. I just worked out every day.
Adam Keefe (Utah Jazz center): I don’t think both sides negotiated in earnest until they had to. In a certain sense, that’s silly, but we see it today with the government shutdown. We know what the issues are. We don’t need to get to that point where people are missing paychecks.
Klempner: I think there was a sense of urgency, but everyone was resolved to the fact that it would be a long lockout. Nothing was going to happen until both sides felt pain.
Kessler: A lockout in July and August doesn’t really impact anyone. It starts having teeth when you start missing games.
For the first time in its history, the NBA lost a game due to a labor dispute when, on September 10, the October exhibition between the Miami Heat and Maccabi Elite was canceled. Training camp for referees and rookie orientation was next to go. Then the first week of preseason. Then all 114 preseason games. And on October 13, the league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.
“I’m very sad and disappointed,” David Stern said at the time. “I consider it to be a collective failure, but I honestly don’t know what else we could have done. I do things that I like to think are in the best interests of the game and I believe this is.”
Throughout this time, Feerick deliberated. “I wouldn’t be influenced by what was happening in the sport,” he says. “It was an issue that was unsettled between the players’ contracts and the collective bargaining agreement. I do recall spending a lot of time on negotiating history. I put in an enormous amount of time studying that issue. I was young then. I’m now 82. I always put in long days, even do it now though it’s a little harder.”
On October 19, in an 85-page decision, Feerick ruled against the union. The lockout would go on. Agents were now openly discussing decertifying the union.
Kessler: What Feerick ruled was that it was so well established in labor law that workers do not get paid during a lockout that if they were going to get paid, the language of the contracts would have to specifically say that. Had we won that, that would have dramatically changed the leverage.
Grantham: I told them, “Guys, don’t take that to arbitration.” The question was, “If you had a guaranteed contract as a player does that guaranteed contract supersede a lockout, and if you are locked out should you be paid a guaranteed contract?” Nobody knew the answer to that. We were always able to use that as a threat. We never submitted that to arbitration because nobody knew the answer. I didn’t want to know the answer. In 1998, the union submitted that to arbitration and the arbitrator came back and said, “No, that money is not guaranteed.” Now you’re stuck. You got no argument on that end. In the past, we would tell management, “Hey, there is a chance that the guaranteed contracts will get paid.” It was a legitimate argument. Once they submitted it to arbitration, instead of allowing it to go through the court system, which would have taken years, you lost that piece that could potentially hang over management’s head. That was an important decision. It smoked the players.
“Those were very immature statements I made. When you’re young, you talk like that and don’t really understand what the average person is making. It was really childish of me to say things like that.” —Kenny Anderson, Boston Celtics guard
Wasserman: Why didn’t we not file the case and use it as a threat? ‘Cause the threat wasn’t enough. This was not a posturing negotiation. The gloves were off.
Kessler: The players had two choices at that point: They could’ve decided to decertify their union and challenge the lockout as an antitrust violation or keep fighting and try to wait the owners out and see who was going to blink.
Falk: People said [decertifying] was anti-union. It’s the most pro-union thing in the world. If you can’t get the job done you have to have an alternative. If you can’t win playing man-to-man, you go to zone, right? You don’t just get your head bashed in playing man-to-man. I knew after  that everyone was afraid to decertify.
Antonio Davis, Hunter, and Jim McIlvaine (Howard is in the background)ASSOCIATED PRESS
McIlvaine: I was supportive of it, but I felt like there were guys in leadership positions inside the union who weren’t as educated about it as they should have been or were misinformed by some people.
Wasserman: The anti-trust option was on some people’s minds. Billy felt it wasn’t the way to go.
Hunter: I just didn’t think that we were there. It wasn’t something we spent a lot of time discussing.
Even with the considerable structural advantages that management retains in most labor disputes, the Feerick decision gave owners tremendous leverage. Owners could play the long game. Unions are more transactional, especially in sports where athletes have a shorter earning period. A few of the players were living check to check—and the owners knew it.
McKie: Anytime you’re not getting your checks—I don’t care who you are or what you’re doing—you’re going to feel the pain because that money is allocated to go to something. Fortunately for me, I did some things the right way. I guess I can also say I was a frugal kind of guy. I wasn’t throwing money around or buying expensive cars. But some guys stretched themselves out pretty far and ran into some trouble.
Falk: The players are millionaires and the owners are billionaires. It doesn’t take a person with a strong background in economics to understand there is a gross disparity in bargaining power.
Schayes: You had 29 sophisticated billionaires against 400 college dropouts. From that standpoint it’s always an uneven negotiation.
Perdue: I find myself fairly educated but I didn’t understand a lot about what was going on. I would go back and call my lawyer and ask him to explain it to me.
Wasserman: We had the feeling that David entered those meetings with everything carefully orchestrated. There were good-cop owners and bad-cop owners and everyone knew their role and if they didn’t, they weren’t going to be back at a bargaining session.
Klempner: Micky Arison was good cop. Colangelo was always a hard-liner. Abe Pollin was a hard-liner.
Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo and Washington Wizards owner Abe PollinAFP/Getty Images
Schayes: The owners were not as unified as you’d think. You had your small markets vs. large markets.
McIlvaine: We had meetings where we felt a certain kind of owner wasn’t being represented; they brought in a lot of hawks and none of the doves. We got them to bring in Dr. Jerry Buss, who was viewed by a lot of guys as a dove. He looked miserable the entire time at the meeting. He looked like he didn’t want to be there.
Falk: Stern ruled those guys with an iron fist. You have to or they’d be doing the same thing as the players, saying all different things during that time.
Wasserman: Stern had the advantage of being able to impose a $5 million fine on any of his owners who spoke out. We were a union serving players and were probably never going to discipline our players for what they said. We were at a natural disadvantage with that. We are a democracy. We are a union. Players have the right to speak their mind.
Dudley: You heard stories of guys struggling and it was a huge disadvantage.
Steve Kauffman (agent): You had people like Kenny Anderson saying he has to make payments on his car notes.
In late October, The New York Times profiled Boston Celtics point guard Kenny Anderson. “When Millionaires are Laid Off” read the headline next to a photo of the Queens, New York, native posing next to a luxury car. In the piece, Anderson, who was due his $5.8 million salary for the 1998-99 season on July 1, mused about possibly selling one of the eight vehicles registered in his or his wife’s names. “I don’t need all of them,” he cracked. “You know, just get rid of the Mercedes.”
Now 48 years old, Anderson is the head coach at Fisk University, a historically black school in Nashville. He admits that he didn’t prepare for the lockout. “I should have been more aware,” he says, sitting in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt hotel in midtown Manhattan. “I really didn’t think it through.”
The deep dive into Anderson’s spending habits—$75,000 a year for insurance and maintenance on the cars alone!—became a public relations nightmare for the union.
Hunter: I don’t know what to say about Kenny Anderson. It was pathetic.
McIlvaine: Fortunately, Twitter didn’t exist.
Kenny Anderson (Boston Celtics guard): Those were very immature statements. When you’re young, you talk like that and don’t really understand what the average person is making. It was really childish of me to say things like that.
Kenny AndersonBoston Globe via Getty Images
Perdue: Patrick Ewing also made a stupid statement. [At a press conference Ewing said, “We make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too.”] You know what? You guys aren’t helping the cause. Just don’t say anything.
Terry Porter (Minnesota Timberwolves guard): There was pushback. We talked about guys not talking to reporters about multiple car payments and house payments, because that wouldn’t be received well by our fan base.
“Unless you are prepared to sit the entire year out, don’t fuck with David Stern. This is not a game. This is a billion-dollar business.” —David Falk
Thomas: It was hard to have sympathy for the players because of the amount of money they were making, relatively speaking. I think the typical fan, if you want to call them blue-collar, would say these guys are playing a game they love, which they would play for nothing.
Nick Van Exel (Denver Nuggets guard): People always go against people with money, period. They don’t understand it, but it was no different than someone with a regular job wanting to get a raise or move up in the company. A lot of people look at it like, “Athletes are spoiled brats, and they get this and that,” and they probably do get this and get that, but they entertain people for a living. It’s their job.
Dudley: It’s hard to win any PR battle when you’re talking about a fight between millionaires and billionaires. Neither side is super sympathetic.
Kauffman: I got some negative feedback in my regular life. I was at a party once, and this guy found out what I did for a living, and he started jumping all over me, screaming at me, saying I was a greedy MF’er like the players.
Kessler: People get like that about sports, but they never get like that about movie stars. You never hear people say, “How come George Clooney can make all that money?”
Williams: You should be able to make as much money as somebody wants to pay you, right? But people didn’t see it that way. No one ever said, “Tom Cruise shouldn’t make $35 million a picture.” But as soon as you see a basketball player …
Kessler: I’m sure there was some amount of racial animus that made people react differently to this.
“There was so much uncertainty, I was afraid to go on vacation. I didn’t want to be on the beach, and then hear that the season was starting tomorrow and not be prepared.” —Michael Finley, Dallas Mavericks guard
Glass: I’d like to think racism wasn’t involved. Although in the last three years, who knows, my opinion of the country has changed. I mean that. It’s been very disturbing to see the underbelly of what’s been unleashed here. In retrospect, who knows. I just think that the color the public resents is green more than black or white. I’ve always felt that way though I may be wrong. Do people resent the fact that black people are making a lot of money? I think that’s true. At that time, I was naive to that. Looking at the Kaepernick situation, I think that’s a big part of that.
Though he collected a league-high $33 million salary during the 1997-98 season, Michael Jordan was the one player to escape the public’s ire. He was MJ. Air Jordan. A six-time NBA champion. Six-time Finals MVP. The GOAT. He did not, however, seek a leadership position in the union.
Upon becoming executive director of the players association, Hunter says that he asked Jordan to run for union president. Jordan declined, but he was a productive presence at the negotiating table. “I think nobody went out of their way to help the league more than Michael Jordan,” Jim McIlvaine says. “He was such a meal ticket for everybody that all the owners perked up when he showed up. Suddenly, they were ready to talk and negotiate.”
But during an October meeting in a midtown Manhattan hotel, Jordan got into an altercation with Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, one that Billy Hunter says could have killed the NBA.
Antonio Davis (Indiana Pacers forward; NBPA negotiating committee member): I felt at the time the owners belittled us and talked down to us. You would start to understand which owners felt we were truly partners and which owners felt like we worked for them.
Kessler: This was at a really big meeting.
McIlvaine: Stern was doing a good cop–bad cop thing with [NBA deputy commissioner] Russ Granik. Russ was like, “I guess we’ll blow up the season. That’s it.” David was trying to be the good cop. At that point, a small-market owner had a very emotional response to what was transpiring. He started crying. It elicited a response from the players. Some guys started chuckling. That’s when Abe got up. “You know, it’s not funny. We can’t make money.” He was yelling. [Russ Granik declined an interview request.]
Hunter: Michael then suggested to him that if he was having cash flow problems, maybe what he should do is sell his team.
McIlvaine: “If you can’t make money, sell your team.”
Kessler: Pollin was taken aback.
Falk: Then he said something he shouldn’t have said.
Hunter: Abe said something like, “Who do you think you are to be telling me boomp-boomp-boomp how to run my team bump-bump-bump.” Then David Stern jumped up. He was yelling, “No Abe! No Abe!” and he grabbed him. I think he was afraid that Abe was going to say something that would have destroyed the league. If he said something, we didn’t hear it. We then all separated. Our guys were like, “Oh man, that was some real shit that went down out there. I think the man was ready to drop a bomb.” Guys said if he dropped the bomb, that would have been the end of this for everybody.
Kessler: The irony, of course, was that Michael ended up playing for him.
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, along with other playersAP Images
Tensions were heightening every day. On October 22, 240 players attended a meeting in a Caesars Palace ballroom in Las Vegas that devolved into an argument between union hawks and doves. The agents weren’t exempt from squabbling, either. A day earlier, fireworks had ensued when the agents’ advisory council met for nearly four hours.
Leonard Armato (agent): I was vocal in saying we should try to get a deal as opposed to, you know, Armageddon. They said I was selling out.
“To me, the biggest crime is that people like LeBron or Anthony Davis or Kobe, they should be making $80 million, maybe $100 million, because their contributions are so unique on and off the court.” —David Falk, agent
Falk: We go this meeting in Vegas with all the agents. We get there a couple of minutes late; the plane was delayed. And Dan [Fegan, longtime agent] was up. Dan was a very smart guy. He was spouting off like he was a radical political leader in the ’60s: “Shut it down! Shut it down! If Stern wants a hard cap—fuck Stern! If Stern wants this—fuck Stern!” This goes on for like, 10 minutes. I stand up and I say, “Great speech. Great speech.” Here’s the deal: David Stern is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. If you go up to him and rub his nose, he’ll say, “OK, asshole, let’s get in the ring and go 15.” After six rounds, when every bone in your body is broken and you’re bleeding from every known and unknown orifice in your body and say, “Uncle, I’ve had enough.” He’ll say, “We’ve only gone six rounds. Get your ass back in the ring. We have nine more rounds to go.” And Dan says, “What does that have to do with collective bargaining?” I said, “What that means, Dan: Unless you are prepared to sit the entire year out, don’t fuck with David Stern. This is not a game. This is a billion-dollar business.” He says, “Are you prepared to sit the year out?” And I said to him, quote, “Asshole, as a matter of fact, I am. I have a hundred million dollars in the bank. How about you?” He got mad. He said, “Why are you being so arrogant?’ I said, “Why are you being so stupid?”
Kauffman: If you met David, he would tell anybody off the street, “I have $90 million.”
Falk: This is how Billy ran the union. The agents had a meeting. The players then had a meeting. But the union didn’t allow the agents to sit in the players meeting even though they were representing them in their business.
Hunter: They shouldn’t be in the players meeting. Then they get to take over the damn meeting. It’s not the agents union. It’s the players union.
Elie: A lot of the stars wanted to get back and play. I remember John Stockton in Vegas trying to speak out, and a lot of the guys just shot him down. It got a little ugly at times.
Hunter: It was Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, and Adam Keefe. They got up and said we were making enough money and we should be happy with the 53 percent and take the 53 percent and this, that, and the other.
McIlvaine: I remember that not being a popular sentiment. It seemed popular amongst guys with one particular owner.
Keefe: I was there. It wasn’t like I was there with [Stockton and Hornacek]. I didn’t travel with them there. I don’t think we were sitting together. I was someone who definitely wanted to get back to work. I understood the dynamics. For me, I don’t think it was a black-and-white issue, in terms of either work or lockout. I was definitely of the opinion that I didn’t think we were helping ourselves and that the longer this lockout went on, the players were going to end up coming out with the short end of the stick.
Hunter: David Robinson then got up and gave a blistering speech about having gone with his mother to the [National] Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and how she explained to him things he never knew. He said that what he saw there was overpowering, how he saw what they had to overcome and where we were at a time when we should be taking a stand. … That was like a Mack truck ran over John and Hornacek and Adam Keefe. They were the three. They came together. Somebody said they had been sent there by the owners, representing the owners. That was the first time they ever showed up. They kind of got shouted out of the room.
David Robinson, alongside Schayes, Ewing, and Hunter, speaks to the media in 1998AP Images
McIlvaine: We once kicked Jack Haley out of a meeting because he had recently retired. He was there as a mole. Years later he told me that ownership had somebody listening on every call and knew exactly what we were strategizing. I don’t know whether this was Jack blowing smoke, but there were certain players that were sympathetic to owners.
Hunter: Stern would always tell me, “I got my people everywhere. I know as much about what you’re doing as you know. I got my eyes and ears.” Clearly, I think there was someone amongst the players, but there also may have been people within my office and on staff. I have my suspicions, but I’m not going to disclose that.
McIlvaine: For Billy to have some paranoia was probably a good thing. I think there was good reason to be paranoid.
No player was more vocal about ending the lockout than New Jersey Nets big man Jayson Williams, and he loved the attention that came along with it. In addition to his monthly column for Details magazine and regular cameos on MTV, Williams appeared on Spin City, The Late Show With David Letterman, The Chris Rock Show, and CBS Evening News With Dan Rather during the lockout. He reportedly conducted 70 radio interviews and 30 newspaper and magazine interviews over that time. Funny and outgoing, Williams was willing to poke fun at his, and his colleagues’, predicament.
“Keith Van Horn and I did a skit on The Chris Rock Show like we were homeless and washing windows on the street,” Williams said recently. “We were stopping people at the Apollo like, ‘Hey, can we have $5?’ It was something we did to have fun with the lockout to ease the tension.”
Williams had personal financial motives for pursuing an end to the lockout. He wanted to get paid. As an impending free agent coming off an All-Star season during which he averaged 12.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per game (and made just $2.5 million), the 30-year-old eight-year NBA veteran was in line for a big raise.
Hunter: We found out he was talking to the league after his name began to appear in articles. He had gotten so blatant about it.
Williams: I remember speaking with both Billy and David and asking them when the hell this lockout was going to end. Billy would say, “It ain’t up to me. Call David.” David would say, “It ain’t up to me, call Billy.” Both had big egos at the time and weren’t getting it done. My problem was with the stalemate—that was what was pissing me off more than anything.
Kendall Gill (New Jersey Nets guard): I disagreed with him, and Jayson is my friend. Brothers can disagree.
Jayson Williams in a media scrum at All-Star practiceNBAE/Getty Images
Williams: I remember picking up the [New York] Post one day, and Patrick Ewing is on the back of the paper telling me to “Shut the F Up.” Spike Lee too. I called both of them. I don’t play that. Not saying that I’m a tough guy, but it shouldn’t have been taken to the press.
Davis: It hurt that Jayson would get out there and say, “Take a deal,” when he didn’t even know what the deal was. He never was talking specifically about any deal that was proposed at the time. We were constantly sending out memos saying, “Here … is … where … we … are … today.” I don’t remember Jayson ever being on one call or ever calling up to the office. Yeah, he never did that. That was disturbing. That was very disturbing.
Theo Ratliff (Philadelphia 76ers center, NBPA negotiating committee member): Jayson had a big payday coming.
Wasserman: He got a maximum salary deal a week after the lockout ended.
Williams: I was selfish in a lot of ways. I had a contract coming up. I also need structure in my life. I needed a job to go to. As soon as I lost that structure, you see all the shit I went through. [In 2010, Williams was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he fatally shot limo driver Costas Christofi in 2002.]
The union had more issues than just leaks and moles. Schisms developed between All-Stars and the middle class and journeymen; the committees and the rank-and-file; Falk’s guys and the anti-Falk contingent. The most glaring issue, however, was that of the players’ finances. Kenny Anderson wasn’t the only NBA player with a spending problem. In mid-November, players received $25,000 checks as part of the league’s group licensing agreement. But, in some cases, it wasn’t enough. Soon, more players were echoing Jayson Williams, and urging the union to cut a deal.
Wasserman: One of the issues during the lockout was that there was disparity in the salary between the high-end guys and the minimum. One of the mantras was to restore the middle class.
Elie: You knew the top guys would get paid and the lesser guys would get what they’d get. There were a lot of players in the league who were not superstars and were not scrubs. I thought we should have gotten paid accordingly.
Schayes: Patrick and I had a discussion about this. He, of course, was on the David-Falk-no-max-salary side. I said, “Look there’s only so many dollars; even though it’s a big pie, it’s still a finite pie.” I went to Patrick and I said, “Look, I’ll make another deal for you: The cap is $36 million. There are 12 players on the team; anyone who gets a roster gets $3 million across the board, and you make the rest of your money from endorsements. I’ll get 80 percent to vote for that. You’ll get 5 percent to vote yes for yours.” … He was like, “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.”
“David Falk’s theory about the NBA was that it was star-driven and that the labor agreement should reflect that: There should be unlimited contracts for the superstars; most of the other players were interchangeable parts; the bulk of the money should go to the players he represents; and the rest of the players would divide up what’s left.” —Danny Schayes, Orlando Magic center and NBPA negotiating committee member
Falk: I think the star players understood the importance of protecting the rank-and-file.
Davis: As we went deeper into the lockout, guys were losing money. Everybody was hurting but we can’t sacrifice right now because we knew that if you put another bad deal in place then we all look crazy. If we’re going to fight, let’s fight.
McKie: We would get on those conference calls and oh my God, guys would complain about this, that, and the other. It was crazy. You had some guys, obviously the guys who were making a lot of money, that wanted to hold the line and then you had other guys like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, I got to get back to work. I got a wife. I got kids. I got family members that I have to help.”
Kauffman: A lot of players were scared. Let’s be blunt: They were scared.
Ratliff: You had a lot of guys who had their own agenda and that agenda was getting that check.
Glass: I had some of those guys [making the minimum]. They could not afford to miss checks. It’s a real misconception. People were criticizing because they were saying, “He can afford to miss checks because he was making so much money.” … Some of my guys if you missed a paycheck … it could throw them off and be a problem at home. … I would say, “We have to put our foot down. It might not affect you, but it will affect the guys in five years.” I had a guy say, “I don’t give a crap about the guys in five years.” It wasn’t all altruism and principle from either side. It was money. It was all about money.
During the lockout David Stern recycled his attack line from the 1995 lockout, accusing agents of sabotaging negotiations. “We stopped that deal in ’95. I’m proud to say that,” Keith Glass says. “Did I have anything to do with my players not going along with a bad deal? Yeah, I did. If David Stern would call that sabotage, I would call that advising. If you want to call it sabotage, OK, guilty.”
But Stern’s comments revealed another division within the union, that between Billy Hunter and the agents, specifically David Falk.
David Stern (NBA commissioner): We believe with good reason that the agents of players who would be most affected by the high-end limitation have begun a campaign to defeat any fair deal. … And their view is that no matter how good the deal may be for 400 players, it won’t be allowed to fly if the top 30 can’t have the ability to receive unlimited amounts. And we’re concerned that this entire arrangement and deal is going to be held hostage by that attitude. [From a November 4, 1998, conference call.]
Wasserman: Stern made it a point to make the agents the bad guy because he didn’t want to blame the players. That was part of his thing of protecting the players.
Glass: Agents are easy [targets]. Nobody likes agents.
Klempner: They were clearly arguing that if it was just the union leaders we’d make a deal.
Thomas: I think the agents were behind it all. I think most of the players followed the lead of their agents. I don’t think there was a lot of independent thinking. Maybe someone like Michael Jordan, but I think the overwhelming majority of the players were doing just whatever their agents were telling them.
Kessler: The agents had some advisory role in the negotiations as they should because they are very knowledgeable, but the idea that they were controlling or influencing Billy or the players on the executive committee was a false narrative created by David Stern and others.
Dudley: I think it’s silly criticism. … It’s like, you’re in a lawsuit and you’re relying on your attorneys. Well, yeah, that’s why I’m paying my attorney. I’m paying them for advice. Of course they should have been involved.
“It wasn’t all altruism and principle. It was money. It was all about money.” —Keith Glass, agent
Falk: There was a schism between the agents and the union. That was fomented by Isiah [Thomas] when he was the president of the union. Isiah was an anti-agent person. I guess he had bad relationships with his own agents. Isiah was a great player and I don’t think they did a very good job negotiating deals that reflected his talent on the floor. And so he was extremely negative toward the agents. It almost developed like instead of being a two-front war between the league and the players, it was a three-front war between the league, the union, and the agents. And the league knew it. The league knew there was a complete divide with the agents. Amongst the agent group, let’s face it, it’s a cutthroat business. I was in a very strong position at that time. We represented the cream of the crop, so there was a tremendous level of jealousy. [Turner Sports did not respond to an interview request for Isiah Thomas.]
Kauffman: David, who I greatly respect for his intelligence and what he accomplished, was like a bull in a china shop at times. I think a big problem was at some point a breakdown between him and Hunter occurred.
Falk: Billy was a solo pilot in a political job that required consensus. I told him on his very first day that his job was to work with the top 10 or 12 most powerful agents that represented the top 80-90 percent of the players and if you could develop a consensus with those people you’d have a unified front. That’s one of David Stern’s geniuses, was taking 29 very wealthy, successful, egotistical owners and getting them to have a common front. Billy didn’t trust the agents. He didn’t like the agents, so he didn’t want to get them included.
Kessler: Billy and I would get phone calls at 2 in the morning from David with his latest views on what to do and what not to do. He was very engaged.
Hunter: Falk had greater access to David Stern than I did. You can’t call and say, “I talked to David Stern today and this that and the other and this is what I think you should do.” C’mon, man. Don’t tell me that you talked to David Stern. I don’t know what you said to David Stern. And so you have to be suspicious of all that. I had one agenda and one agenda only: I was committed to 400 ballplayers. I had to be concerned about the little guys, big guys, superstars, guys who were not yet in the league.
Falk: I’m not talking to David Stern because I’m a secret agent for the league. I’m talking to David Stern because Billy Hunter is not doing his job and got the players locked out twice. Ironically, I made the same suggestions to David Stern that I made to Billy Hunter to resolve some of the issues because I’m an experienced dealmaker. That’s what I do. I’m not a prosecutor. I’m an NBA dealmaker for 45 years and I have a pretty good track record. If he wants to say he can’t talk to me because I talk to David Stern, that’s absurd, but he’s certainly entitled to say that. I didn’t dislike Billy Hunter. He frustrated me. I think Billy is an intelligent guy. I just think his approach was 100 percent wrong.
Billy Hunter’s greatest adversary, however, was David Stern. Though he was an accomplished lawyer from a fancy New York firm, Stern brawled like a street fighter during negotiations. And yet he still walked around calling himself “Easy Dave.” Stern assigned the nicknames as well: Jeffrey Kessler was the “disgruntled antitrust lawyer”; Ron Klempner was “a zealot”; Billy Hunter was “an interloper.”
Stern was shrewd and knew when to get his hands dirty. In mid-December he sent the owners’ latest collective bargaining proposal to all 400-plus members of the union via overnight mail. “As the 1998-99 season slips away from us, it is critical that I communicate directly to you,” the letter read. The agent Norman Blass and Kevin Willis both then pushed for a secret ballot on the offer. “I just knew we had to get back to playing,” Willis says. “Guys were suffering.”
There would be no secret vote on the proposal, but the letter had its intended effect. “You gotta give David Stern a lot of credit,” Will Perdue says. “He did a good job of dividing players, dividing agents, and dividing players from agents. Players didn’t know who to believe.”
Falk: I’m probably David Stern’s biggest fan.
Hunter: David Stern knows what he’s doing, man. The man is competent, extremely competent. I always respected David. In any other situation we could have been real good friends.
Stern discusses a proposed max salary chart with the media in 1998AP Images
Jim Quinn (former NBPA general counsel): Stern was in many ways, you could argue, the most successful commissioner in all of sports. Taking a largely moribund NBA in the early ’80s and making it into the powerhouse it is today. I fought with Stern for 40 years, but I still respect the guy.
Kessler: David is bombastic and volatile and could blow up in the meeting at any time against anybody including his own owners, own lawyers, players, the other side, me, Billy, Patrick Ewing, anybody. He had a very tempestuous negotiating style.
Quinn: His way of negotiating is more or less yelling.
Kessler: Players got to see that side of David that was digging and belittling and shouting and boisterous.
Kauffman: He wasn’t Easy Dave anymore.
Grantham: Nobody is easy in negotiations, in particular when you are talking about billions of dollars and putting together complicated agreements. There is no such thing as Easy Dave.
Wasserman: Stern had the beard, remember that?
Klempner: The lockout beard. Yes, that was crazy. Nobody could figure that out.
Quinn: Oh, we gave him a lot of shit for that.
Armato: It was better than his mustache. I didn’t think the David Stern mustache was so great.
As the lockout continued deep into December with no end in sight, both sides prepared for the unthinkable: a lost season. Rumors of the owners using replacement players were countered with threats of the players and agents forming a new league. “The Game on Showtime,” an exhibition held in Atlantic City broadcast on Showtime, with proceeds going to UNICEF and needy NBA players, was perceived as a test run of sorts; the money all went to charity following a public uproar.
On December 19, Patrick Ewing’s red team defeated Alonzo Mourning’s white team 125-119 before an announced crowd of 9,526 that was later revealed to be 5,603, with just 1,194 tickets sold through the box office. The exhibition proved two things: (1) Patrick Ewing and Shawn Kemp were not in game shape and (2) fan apathy was settling in.
Kessler: Basketball is a really hard sport to use replacement players because it’s such a star-driven sport.
Dunleavy: If that happened that would have been a really ugly situation.
Bob Whitsitt (Portland Trail Blazers general manager and team president): We heard the rhetoric. But I did not put together a scouting group to go find the best guys who aren’t good enough to be in the NBA.
Grunwald: We may have sent some scouts to the CBA to see what was going on.
Whitsitt: I didn’t spend energy on that because (a) I thought it was a negotiation ploy, (b) I really didn’t have any interest in winning the replacement championship, (c) I’m not sure how that would even play. You’re going to go to your 20,000 fans a night and drop their ticket prices down to whatever to watch guys who were playing in the YMCA.
Stern: It’s more likely that we won’t have a season than we will have a season. As strange as it sounds, we left on pleasant terms, agreeing that we couldn’t agree. Now I think we sit and watch and wait as the season slips away. [Said to reporters on December 4, 1998 following a 12 ½ hour negotiating session.]
Armato: It was actually a really dangerous period for the NBA. Stern thought that the whole thing had the potential of completely collapsing. Some of the agents were saying, “Why are we taking this lousy collective bargaining agreement when we can own our own league?”
Ewing and Mourning play in a charity game in Atlantic CityAFP/Getty Images
Schayes: Someone was putting up a billion dollars to start a new NBA, or at least that was the rumor. It’s like, “Well, what does this look like? Who’s going to play? Who’s going to get paid? Where are we going to play these games?”
Mark Bartelstein (agent): That’s a huge undertaking. Obviously, there was talk of everything. All kinds of ideas are thrown across the table and all kinds of things are explored. The reality of that happening, probably not so great.
Armato: I thought Arn Tellem and Falk’s end game was forming this new league. Anytime you are a powerful agent like they were, you’re always looking for more power. That, obviously, would have been more power.
“I’m not talking to David Stern because I’m a secret agent for the league. I’m talking to David Stern because Billy Hunter is not doing his job and got the players locked out twice.” —David Falk
Falk: The purpose of the game was not because we wanted to start a new league, it was to show that the players could survive for a long period of time. … I met Billy and made a suggestion to him that because of different business contacts that we had, we had the ability to stage games so that the players could continue to play and make money and try to lessen the damage that the lockout was causing and put up a strong front on behalf of the players. … Billy’s response was, “That’s great, but I can reach out to Kofi Annan.” I never understood what that had to do with staging games.
McIlvaine: There were talks about putting together one-on-one matchups in Las Vegas.
Kauffman: The game came and went, almost like it didn’t happen.
Schayes: Some press members who I really respect told me people were starting not to care. Once you get to that point, you’ve lost. What’s the risk? The risk was that you sign a deal and nobody cares.
Klempner: Once you leave the preseason, then you lose opening day, then you lose Christmas, All-Star—we were up against the wall. The season was going to be canceled.
Schayes: We were getting to the point where face-to-face negotiation was not working. I pulled Billy aside and told him, “Look, I don’t think we’re going to get a deal with us on one side of the table.” Billy had to posture for the fellas, right? It almost got to the point where anything Billy agreed to would be viewed as a weakness and vice versa. Me and Billy sat down and I said, “Look, I don’t think we are at a point where we can get a face-to-face solution. I think you and David have to get a room and talk about some of these major issues. That’s the only way a deal gets done.” And that’s what instigated the famous Leonard Armato meeting.
A secret meeting between Billy Hunter and David Stern was scheduled for December 23 in the Los Angeles office of Shaquille O’Neal’s agent, Leonard Armato. How the meeting ensued is up for debate—Hunter says that Stern called him and suggested the meeting; Armato says he was the intermediary—but it opened a new phase of the negotiations.
Hunter: I thought Leonard Armato was in David Stern’s back pocket. But I thought about it and said, “Well, I was trying to get something done, so maybe I’ll go.”
Armato: [Hunter] flies in. Stern takes off from Aspen and apparently some reporter tracked that his plane took off, and some reporter on the ground made it known that Stern was on his way to L.A. Everybody was on high alert. Stern lands in L.A. and there are reporters following him and they see him pulling into my office. Then word gets out that Hunter is in my office as well. All of a sudden my office is surrounded by press.
Hunter: It turns out that Leonard Armato’s secretary or someone in his office telephoned either Arn Tellem’s or Falk’s office and informed them that I was at Armato’s office meeting with David Stern. Whoever it was had also called the media and they were lining the streets, man. It was like a carnival.
Armato: No, no, no. My employee? No way did my employee tip anyone off.
Wasserman: I remember being at my in-laws’ house and my beeper started going off from reporters.
Hunter: I then got a call from Patrick, who had been informed that I was meeting David Stern without him. He was exercising about the fact that I was meeting without him. I indicated that I tried to reach him beforehand but didn’t get him. I didn’t think there was any harm.
Glen Rice, Allan Houston, Dominique Wilkins, Mourning, and EwingAFP/Getty Images
Falk: You can’t have a meeting without the president of the union. Do you think if the electrical union went on strike they’d have a settlement meeting without the union president there? It’s unconscionable to have a meeting anywhere without the president of the union. Patrick lost $6 million in salary because of the lockout and Billy didn’t even have the courtesy to invite him. Did Billy give up any salary during the lockout?
Hunter: John Thompson had actually gotten on the phone to mediate between me and Patrick. I was on the phone with them for 35-40 minutes trying to convince Patrick that nothing untoward had occurred. I had to report back. I couldn’t cut a deal without them. So anything we talked about I had to bring back. The reality is that I never got to meet with Stern. When I got through talking with them, I just said the hell with it. We got to reconvene in New York City.
Armato: When the meeting was finished, I agreed to drop off David Stern at his hotel. Billy says, “My car is parked two blocks away. Can I get a ride to my car?” I had one of my interns, Jeff Pressman, give Billy a ride. They get into the parking lot and Billy goes, “I don’t want anyone to see me.” Jeff says, “You can just lay down in the back seat and I’ll drive off.” Billy says, “No, no, that’s not good enough. Put me in the trunk.”
Jeff Pressman (intern in Leonard Armato’s office): It was his idea. He got in the trunk. I drove a few blocks until I was sure no one was following me, and then I let him out of the trunk. I was probably 22 or 23 at the time. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
Hunter: That’s correct. He drove me about two blocks, stopped, opened up the trunk, and I got out and went on.
More significant back-channel talks had already started by the time of the Armato meeting. In mid-December, Hunter called Jim Quinn, general counsel to the union under Larry Fleischer, and the man The New York Times later dubbed “the most prolific litigator of sports antitrust cases” in history. Aware of Quinn’s longtime friendship with Russ Granik, Hunter thought some new blood could jolt negotiations.
A series of phone calls led to a dinner or two, and soon Quinn and Granik were swapping ideas. “We talked certain issues and ways to resolve them,” Quinn says. “I would go back to Billy and say, ‘Can you live with X?’ Russ would presumably go back to David and say the same thing.”
With a January 7 deadline on canceling the season now set, both sides were still far apart. On January 4, the owners declined the players’ latest offer, while the union said it would put the league’s most recent proposal to a vote at a January 6 players meeting; the scheduled vote was on whether to support the negotiating committee’s recommendation to reject the offer. “We knew that they were not going to care what’s in the offer,” Antonio Davis remembers, “and they were going to sign that deal.”
With hundreds of NBA players congregating in New York City for the vote, one last night of negotiations would take place inside a 14th-floor conference room of the NBA’s offices on the night of Tuesday, January 5. Quinn and Granik met at 6 p.m., with Stern, the league’s general counsel Joel Litvin, Hunter, and Kessler soon joining them; Stern left for around an hour to appear on Larry King Live. Setting up the meeting, however, was a negotiation in itself. [Joel Litvin declined an interview request.]
Quinn: It was clear by then that both sides really wanted to make a deal.
Armato: I was then involved deeply in the final negotiating night when the settlement was reached. I was in constant contact with league representatives and union representatives, providing info on what could be a compromise. I was really pushing David. I was like, “David you got to give in a little bit here.” I had Stern primed to make the deal.
Kessler: Leonard Armato was not a productive force in the negotiations, and his role was greatly exaggerated. I don’t think he did anything positive in those negotiations.
Hunter: At one point I got as recalcitrant as Stern was. I was sitting in my office and said, “The hell with it. We are going to be locked out for the rest of the season.” I get a call from Armato and he says me, “Will you call David Stern?” I said, “Call David Stern for what?” He said, “David Stern wants to do a deal, but he wants you to call.” I had been the one to make all the calls throughout this negotiation. Every time there had been a call [I had made the call] except for the time he called from [Aspen]. Every time it’s me calling David. I said, “I’m not calling David. The hell with it. It is what it is. If this thing is going to go down, it’s going to go down.”
Armato: I said, “Look, let’s not stand on ceremony here. There is a lot at stake—over $2 billion in salary and the future of the league. Who cares who calls first?”
Hunter: He talked to me for like 15-20 minutes. Before we hung up, he said, “Promise me you’ll call David Stern.” After he hung up, two minutes later I called David. I remember that when I called David that he was anticipating my call. I don’t know if Leonard had called beforehand and informed him that I would be calling; I didn’t leave Leonard with the impression that I would call. But David was receptive and said he wanted to get together and he was hopeful we could work something out.
Kessler: We just assembled quickly and went over.
Quinn: The atmosphere was tense, but reasonably friendly. There wasn’t a lot of yelling. By that time I think Stern was yelled out.
Kessler: That last night we had to close the gap on like 15 key issues. There was something open on this, something open on that, there were a lot of open pieces that had to be closed that night.
Quinn: The big hang-up was the max salary. That was the ultimate issue that got resolved that late night. … It was somewhere around 2 o’clock in the morning. I remember taking Billy outside and saying to him, “The max salary is not the end of the world.”
Kessler: They were willing to negotiate and put more on the table that evening. We finished at like 4 in the morning.
Quinn: I remember that we had a deal, people shook hands, it was cold as hell. We walked out of the NBA offices. … I remember walking down to the elevator and it was myself, Jeff Kessler, and Billy. There were no cabs around, so we were walking up Fifth Avenue, talking about how we had just saved the season.
What that season would look like is another story.
For Part 2, visit The Ringer on Tuesday, February 19.
Lessons from the extremely ugly, post-lockout 1999 NBA season
Things got real ugly on the court after the 1999 NBA lockout. Can the NBA and its players avoid a similar fate when things return to normal this year?
When Michael Jordan walked off the Delta Center court an NBA champion in what we assumed to be his final NBA season, the NBA had just put the finishing touches on one of their finest seasons ever.
The hysteria around the league had reached a fever pitch and the sports league of the 1990s seemed poised to continue riding the momentum into the new Millenium.
Well, not exactly.
On July 1, 1998, the NBA officially entered a lockout as players and owners argued over several issues. This was actually the third lockout of the decade as both 1995 and 1996 saw hour-long lockouts before the season but ultimately they were more bravado than anything.
This one though was the real deal.
In March 1998, NBA owners began to renegotiate the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the intention of re-working the NBA salary cap and sought to put a ceiling on player salaries.
Negotiations broke off on June 22, 1998, and the lockout was underway. During this time teams could not hold workouts or meetings at team facilities and players were left to fend for themselves, unsure when they would be back on the court.
After months of public back and forths between the two sides and without a deal in sight, an ultimatum was set. Then-NBA commissioner David Stern set the date: Jan. 7, 1999. If a deal was not signed by that day, the NBA season would be canceled.
As fate would have it, the lockout ended on Jan. 6, 1999. The players accepted the owner’s terms and the 1998-99 season would happen but in an abbreviated and condensed 50-game format.
Games would start in one month (February 5, 1999). What followed was one of the most putrid, offensive NBA seasons in history.
The bad omens began almost immediately as opening night featured a 78-66 game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets. The next day, Cleveland and Boston fought to a 77-73 final.
The following week, Utah — fresh off two consecutive NBA Finals appearances — put up on the most pathetic regular-season games of all-time scoring just 56 points in a 71-56 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics. Utah made only 21 of their 68 shot attempts and Karl Malone led the team with 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
On Feb. 21, the defending champion (albeit without, you know, Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson) scored just 63 points in a 79-63 loss to the New York Knicks. Not to be overshadowed, the Detroit Pistons scored just 64 points on the very same day losing to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 85-64.
A paltry crowd of only 8,258 saw the Atlanta Hawks score 68 points in a loss to the now-pathetic Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were led in scoring that night by a 34-year-old NBA journeyman Mark Bryant. He had 16.
Speaking of the Bulls, on April 10, 1999, they put themselves into the record books as they scored only 49 points in an 82-49 loss to the Miami Heat. Yes, 49 points. In a full game. NBA. Yes, they played all of the minutes. 49.
Normally, I’d follow this up by telling you how many players scored 49 points in a single game that season but to add to the awfulness of the season, it never happened. Nobody scored 50 points that year with Grant Hill, Allen Iverson and Antonio McDyess coming the closest with 46-point games.
When the dust finally settled on the 1998-99 season, fans had witnessed an abomination — the slowest pace in league history and the only time league-wide pace dipped below 90 (88.9). The lockout-shortened season would be the only season in the 3-point era to dip below an effective field goal percentage of 47 (46.6 percent). Even free throw percentage stunk — it was the worst free-throw shooting year since 1967 and one of the 20 worst years percentage-wise in NBA history.
This year featured the sixth-worst average offensive efficiency ever (102.2) with only 1975, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1978 being worse.
The lockout-shortened year ranks 10th in the fewest assists per game ever (20.7) and one of only two seasons in the 3-point era (2006) to be in the bottom-10. Every other season in the bottom-10 took place in either the 1940s or 1950s.
Things were very, very bad.
Players, coaches and teams were not prepared for the season. Numerous players showed up out of shape, most famously Cleveland Cavaliers star Shawn Kemp who arrived at camp 35 pounds overweight. “Coach, I didn’t think we were coming back,” said, according to Cleveland.com.
TheRinger’s Oral History of the 1999 NBA Lockout gives several first-hand accounts of the rushed nature of training camps, including several players who discussed how difficult it was to get into NBA shape in just a few weeks.
So not only were players ill-prepared for the season but the abbreviated and condensed season saw more back-to-backs than any player was previously used to. Players were gassed. Legs were tired. Bones ached. Players recalled eating more room service than ever that season as they could barely get out of bed to go out to eat.
“The fatigue, most of all, affects shooting. Shooting is precise. If you are fatigued in your arms and upper body, the shot is not going to fall. Then the legs go, and if the legs are tired they can’t elevate.” — Philadelphia 76ers athletic trainer Lenny Currier
Let’s not forget how different NBA conditioning, training and recovery is. The progress made in those fields over the last handful of years is profound. One can take a look at the 2011 NBA lockout as evidence. A similar scenario to 1999, the 2011 lockout forced teams to play a semi-condensed 66 game regular season but we have very few stories of overweight players or broken down bodies.
Wally Blase, Chicago Bulls assistant athletic trainer in 1999, said in TheRinger piece, “we know now that recovery is just as important as training. There is so much care given to what a guy does when he comes off the court now and how quickly they get in the cold tubs or recovery boots. Even tights. No one was wearing compression tights on a plane back then.”
So what does that tell us about this year? As of this writing, there is no plan in place for the return of the 2019-20 NBA season with the last report being a potential fall return.
Under normal circumstances, I would feel confident saying the basketball we see if and when the NBA returns would be very similar to what we saw when everything stopped. Of course, these aren’t normal circumstances. Like the 1999 lockout, players have been unable to visit team facilities and moreover, players are not allowed to train at other gyms or facilities because of the ongoing pandemic. The onus has been 100 percent on players to workout at home. That means staying in shape at home. Working with trainers… digitally. Getting nutrition advice via Zoom calls.
For players without a court, it means dribbling in the driveway or basement. Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, realizing that most of his teammates (and himself personally) didn’t have the benefit of a home court, bought portable hoops for his team.
Butler isn’t alone. A recent New York Times piece on the topic looked at several NBA stars without access to hoops: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, C.J. McCollum and Jayson Tatum. All have gone weeks without shooting a basketball. Nikola Vucevic is borrowing his neighbor’s driveway to get shots up.
?The Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks said only two of their 17 players initially had access to a basket. Only two of the 16 Denver Nuggets players had a functional rim nearby. The Heat said they were also at 2 for 17 before Butler went on his shopping spree.”
There’s no doubt players are fitter and have better nutrition than they did in 1999. Today’s players don’t use training camp to get into NBA shape as much as refine what they’ve been doing all year. The life of a player is 24/7 with guys working on their games and their bodies each and every day.
But, again, these aren’t normal times.
The one benefit today’s players have that those in 1999 definitely did not have is power. If players aren’t comfortable with the NBA’s timeline to return to play, then the NBA will not be able to move forward. In 1999, players were licking their wounds after a labor dispute loss. When the league said jump, the player had no choice but to ask “How high?” In normal circumstances, today’s players would and should be ready to go in a month’s time. Given the inability for much of the league to workout on any reasonable level, it’s impossible to know what type of basketball we’ll see.
Can today’s NBA players get up to speed in a month or a few weeks? Will the 2020 NBA fall victim to the same pitfalls we saw in 1999? It’s impossible to say right now without a clear deadline in place but everyone from players, coaches, teams and owners need to mindful of just how poor the 1999 season was for the NBA.
While losing Jordan was a huge blow to the NBA’s popularity, the 1999 lockout and subsequent laughably bad season did it no favors. The NBA suffered years of tanking ratings and perception problems in the years that followed. While nobody is blaming the NBA or any sports league for the current lack of activity, it won’t be as easy to overlook once the games start.
NBA lockout begins as sides fail to reach deal
By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA locked out its players Friday when its
collective bargaining agreement expired, becoming the second pro
sports league shut down by labor strife.
The labor deal ended at midnight after players and owners failed
to reach a new contract. The two sides remained far apart on just
about every major issue, from salaries to the salary cap, revenues
to revenue sharing.
The long-expected lockout puts the 2011-12 season in jeopardy
and comes as the NFL is trying to end its own work stoppage that
began in March.
John Wall of the Washington Wizards puts up a shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Verizon Center on March 5, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
It is believed to be only the second time that two leagues have
been shut down simultaneously by labor problems.
In 1994, the NHL and MLB were idle from October through the end
of the year. The NHL locked out its players from October 1994 until
mid-January 1995 and reduced the 1994-95 season from 84 games to
48. MLB endured a 232-day strike from August 12, 1994 until April
2, 1995, which led to the cancellation of the entire 1994
postseason and World Series.
In a call with the labor relations committee on Thursday,
Commissioner David Stern recommended that the first lockout since
the 1998-99 season be imposed.
“We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans
for our game. 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,” Stern said. “The goal here has been
to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30
teams can compete.”
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday and a final proposal from
the players – which NBA leaders said would have raised average
player salaries to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal – the
sides could not close the enormous gulf between their positions.
“The problem is that there’s such a gap in terms of the
numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can’t find
any way to bridge that gap,” union chief Billy Hunter said.
All league business is officially on hold, starting with the
free agency period that would have opened Friday. The NBA’s summer
league in Las Vegas already has been canceled, preseason games in
Europe were never scheduled, and players might have to decide if
they want to risk playing in this summer’s Olympic qualifying
tournaments without the NBA’s help in securing insurance in case of
And teams will be prohibited from having any contact with their
players, most of whom won’t be paid until a deal is done but insist
they’ll hang in anyway.
“We’re going to stand up for what we have to do, no matter how
long it’s going to take,” Thunder star Kevin Durant told The
Associated Press. “No matter how long the lockout’s going to take,
we’re going to stand up. We’re not going to give in.”
The lockout comes exactly one year after one of the NBA’s most
anticipated days in recent years, when Lebron James, Dwyane Wade
and the rest of the celebrated class of 2010 became free agents.
That free agency bonanza – highlight by the James, Wade, Chris
Bosh trio in Miami – got the league started on a season where
ticket and merchandise sales, ratings and buzz were all up. That
weakened the owners’ case that the system was broken beyond repair,
but it also demonstrated why they wanted changes, with Stern saying
owners feel pressured to spend as much as possible to prove their
commitment to winning to fans.
The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game
schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.
Hunter said it’s too early to be concerned about that.
“I hope it doesn’t come down to that,” he said. “Obviously,
the clock is now running with regard to whether or not there will
or will be a loss of games, and so I’m hoping that over the next
month or so that there will be sort of a softening on their side
and maybe we have to soften our position as well.”
The NBA appeared headed this route from the start of
negotiations. Owners said they lost hundreds of millions in every
season of this CBA, ratified in 2005. League officials said 22 of
the 30 teams would lose money.
So they took a hard-line stance from the start, with their
initial proposal in 2010 calling for a hard salary cap system,
reducing contract lengths and eliminating contract guarantees, as
well as reducing player salary costs by about $750 million
annually. Though the proposal was withdrawn after a contentious
meeting with players at the 2010 All-Star weekend, the league never
moved from its wish list until recently, and Hunter said he
believes negotiations never recovered from that rocky beginning.
The union had previously filed an unfair labor charge against
the league with the National Labor Relations Board for unfair
bargaining practices, complaining the NBA’s goal was to avoid
meaningful negotiation until a lockout was in place.
Despite frequent meetings this month, the sides just didn’t make
Owners want to reduce the players’ guarantee of 57 percent of
basketball revenue and weren’t moved by the players’ offer to drop
it to 54.3 percent – though players said that would have cut their
salaries by $500 million over five years.
They sparred over the league’s characterization of its “flex”
salary cap proposal – players considered it a hard cap, which they
oppose – and any chance of a last-minute deal was quickly lost
Thursday when league officials said the union’s move was in the
wrong direction financially.
“I don’t think we’re closer; in fact it worries me that we’re
not closer. We have a huge philosophical divide,” Stern said.
Hunter said he hopes the two sides will meet again in the next
two weeks, after the union has looked at some additional documents
The players’ association seems unlikely, at least for now, to
follow the NFLPA’s model by decertifying and taking the battle into
the court system, instead choosing to continue negotiations. Hunter
said last week he felt owners believe the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in St. Louis, which is debating the legality of the NFL’s
lockout, will uphold employers’ rights to impose lockouts.
“We’ll just continue to ask our fans to stick with us and
remain patient with us. As players we want to play. That’s who we
are; we’re basketball players,” Lakers guard and union president
Derek Fisher said. “Right now we’re faced with dealing with the
business aspect of our game. We’re going to do it the same way we
play basketball. We’re going to work hard. We’re going to be
focused. We’re going to be dedicated to getting the results that we
About 90 percent of NBA players get paid from Nov. 15 through
April 30, so they won’t be missing checks for a while. But Stern
has warned that the offers only get worse once a lockout starts, so
the league could try to push through elements of its original
proposal when bargaining resumes.
“The fortunate thing about this situation is it didn’t just
come up over the past couple of weeks,” Hornets guard and players’
executive committee member Chris Paul said at an event in
Louisiana. “We’ve known this could be a possibility the past
couple of years. I’ve been telling my teammates the past couple of
years, and even the young guys that come in the league, to just be
ready for it.”
Like with the NFL lockout, NBA players won’t be the only ones
affected. Employees of teams and the league also face a very
uncertain future. Stern admitted all options would be considered,
including furloughs for his employees.
“The people who stand to have their livings impacted by a
shutdown of our industry are going to have a negative view of both
sides,” Stern said. “I think our fans will tend to have a
negative view of why can’t you guys work this thing out.”
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York, Brett Martel in New
Orleans and Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Are We Heading for Another NBA Lockout?
As we reach the end of the 2014-15 NBA All-Star break, there is much to be thankful for with the current state of the NBA. The premier basketball league is flush with stars, from mainstays like LeBron James and Kevin Durant to upstarts like Stephen Curry and James Harden. Social media and the NBA’s tech-savvy approach have made basketball a huge part of Internet culture, and indeed have made the game more popular and accessible than at any other time in its history. Right now, the biggest league-wide controversies are what to do about the draft lottery, maybe tweaking the playoff system, and if the regular season schedule should be shortened. Basically, life in Adam Silver’s NBA is very good.
And yet, there’s a massive potential storm brewing that could bring a sudden end to all of this controversial tranquility.
Within hours of the new TV deal, power players like James, Chris Paul, and Durant were already considering a push for the end of max contracts.
Either the players or the owners can opt out of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement—signed after a contentious series of negotiations between the league and the players union and a 161 day lockout from July to December of 2011—in the summer of 2017, and given how favorable the current deal has been for the owners it seems almost a certainty that the players will invoke their right to do so. What could follow is yet another volatile, bitter series of negotiations that will threaten to cancel games and erode the goodwill the NBA has built up with its fans.
The central issue during the 2011 lockout was how owners and players would split the Basketball-Related Income (BRI) generated from things like ticket and merchandise sales, along with TV revenue. Owners wanted the players to cut their share of BRI from 57 percent to 47, and the players countered by offering to cut it to 53. The resulting staring contest led to a work stoppage that saw the season reduced from 82 to 66 games, with the owners eventually “winning” the negotiations by getting the players to cave and agree to a 49 to 51.2 percent share of BRI.
Image via USA TODAY Sports / Bob Donnan
The owners’ central argument (which did have some truth to it) was that the previous CBA was causing 22 of the 30 teams to lose money, indirectly damaging the players as a result. In the wake of the NBA signing a $2.66 billion per year TV deal (triple what the last one was worth) along with even small market franchise values skyrocketing, that argument is simply no longer an option.
Nobody knows this more than the players, with newly-elected NBPA Vice President LeBron James saying in October that “The whole thing that went on with the last negotiation process was the owners telling us that they were losing money. There’s no way they can sit in front of us and tell us that right now after we continue to see teams selling for billions of dollars.”
Image via USA TODAY Sports / Brad Penner
While players stand to benefit from the new TV deal before the current CBA expires (the salary cap and value of max contracts are dictated in part by BRI, and there’s about to be a whole lot more of that), the issue of max contracts is likely to be a huge sticking point. Within hours of the new TV deal, power players like James, Chris Paul, and Durant were already considering a push for the end of max contracts. It’s hard to see a world in which owners would willingly go for that; imagine the salary someone like LeBron or KD would command on the open market? How many years would someone be willing to offer Durant, or even a younger player like Andrew Wiggins? It would create a fundamental shift in how teams are put together, and such dramatic changes are something the owners have never shown a particular fondness for.
Another significant factor in making a lockout more likely is the fact that the players are much better prepared now than they were in 2011. Back in July, the NBA Players Association quietly sent a letter to players recommending that they opt into a pay system that will allow them to keep receiving checks even in the event of a work stoppage in 2017. Rather than receive their yearly salary over a 12 month period, a provision in the CBA allows for players to stretch those payments out over 18 months instead. Interim executive director Ron Klempner wrote to the players that:
“We suggest that you consider including this provision in any multi-year contract you negotiate, specifically for the 2016-17 season. An 18-month payment schedule for 2016-17 will allow a player to continue receiving paychecks throughout the 2017-18 season, even if the players are lockout that season.”
You could certainly make a case that Klempner and the union are simply encouraging the players to be financially prepared and learn from the mistakes of the past. However, given how the owners successfully used players’ lack of preparedness last time as a negotiation ploy, the union is also trying to put itself in a better position if and when the time comes to stare down the owners at the bargaining table.
the NBA Players Association quietly sent a letter to players recommending that they opt into a pay system that will allow them to keep receiving checks even in the event of a work stoppage in 2017.
While it’s mostly doom and gloom concerning whether owners and players can bridge what look like significant gaps, there is some reason for hope. It begins with Silver, the new commissioner whom players seem to genuinely like after the way he handled last year’s Donald Sterling fiasco. Indeed, on both the player and league sides the names and faces we’ll get to know in the CBA negotiations will be entirely different than they were in 2011. In addition to Silver replacing David Stern, Billy Hunter is out as head of the players union, Chris Paul is the new lead player rep after the ouster of Derek Fisher, and Michele Roberts is in as NBPA executive director.
So does this mean that a lockout can be avoided this time around? With team values and league revenues never higher, both sides have a vested interest in actually playing basketball and keeping those numbers up. The sticking points discussed here are very much a real thing though, and will undoubtedly cause a lot of discomfort for fans between now and whenever a new deal is eventually struck. In addition to the aforementioned BRI and max contracts, there are significant factors like the luxury tax and salary cap structure that will require a lot of attention when the sides begin negotiating.
If money is the problem in striking this new deal, it’s also the solution. Basically, there’s a lot of it to be had. Let’s hope both the players and the owners are smart enough to realize that the way to ensure both sides get paid is to keep fans entertained with uninterrupted NBA basketball.
Definition of Lockout by Merriam-Webster
| \ ˈläk-ˌau̇t
: the withholding of employment by an employer and the whole or partial closing of the business establishment in order to gain concessions from or resist demands of employees
locked out; locking out; locks out
90,000 Lockout in the NBA: causes, consequences, who is to blame and most importantly – what to do? – Sporting variety – Blogs
For starters, I’m on the side of the players in this battle between millionaires and billionaires. There are many reasons for this, I can only say that I understand the actions of the players now and support them more than the owners, although in fact they are wrong, neither one nor the other. The owners are wrong because they want to completely make the players dependent on themselves, the players are wrong because they did not accept one of the best offers the owners gave them.So, let’s begin to analyze this unpleasant situation.
LOCKOUT REASONS. The main reason for the lockout, at least according to League Commissioner David Stern, is the loss of 22 out of 30 teams. It should be noted right away that it is impossible to verify the veracity of such a statement, since very few people have seen the League’s financial statements even in the United States. But such an astronomical number of teams is unlikely. You can, even without looking at the teams’ list, say that Chicago, Miami, Lakers, Boston, Oklahoma, Dallas, Denver, Knicks, Nets are NOT LOST.Of the remaining twenty-one teams, it is also unlikely that all of them will be unprofitable all the time, and if they are unprofitable, then most of them are due to the fault of GMs.
The second reason for the lockout, in my opinion, is more truthful, is that the owners wanted to crush the players, impose their own conditions on them and, at the same time, make good money ($ 400 million). And everything seemed to go according to the scenario of the owners, the players lost a lot on almost all points, but apparently before voting for the last, ULTIMATIVE proposal of the owners, the players realized that they were being ripped off.Yes, and the proposal itself had some incomprehensible points that were supposed to level the strong teams with the weak ones, but after all, the abolition of SETs for teams that are above the salary ceiling, and these are contender teams, would not equate Minnesota with Dallas, Chicago or the Lakers.
This is how we smoothly move on to CONSEQUENCES of of the owners’ excessive appetites. It is clear that many want to get rid of heavy-sized and often inappropriate player contracts (Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arinas etc.), but not in the same way. As a result, the players did not accept the owners’ offer, dissolved the union and filed a class action lawsuit in court, accusing the owners of a trust collusion. It should be noted that the players have great chances of winning the court. And, probably, primarily due to the fact that the owners do not have a clear position. If already Pet Riley, one of the most authoritative and strong GM teams, declares that he is already tired of waiting for the owners to agree with the basketball players, then you can understand that many have the same opinions.Plus, teams are losing money. According to American economists, Miami is losing about two hundred million dollars, Oklahoma – 60, San Antonio – 90, Portland – 59 ( READ HERE ) … And this is just the beginning.
Provisional sections WHO’S GUILTY and WHAT TO DO can perhaps be combined into one, because the answer is simple: both the players and the owners are to blame, and the only solution may be the resumption of negotiations and a compromise on the part of the owners, because the players in the most important part (income distribution) did not just give in, but did everything to make the owners happy.If not, then the litigation will force either the players to seek reconciliation (if the owners win in the course of the court case), or the owners may be forced to compromise by a possible unfavorable outcome. In the meantime, the trial and the case, we are waiting for news from the United States and hope for a quick and satisfying outcome for everyone.
What do your friends write about in microblogging?
90,000 NBA stars due to lockout are ready to play in Europe, China and Qatar
NBA guest workers scatter around the world
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has missed basketball and is ready to go to play in Europe or China.CSKA President Andrei Vatutin admitted that he was not interested in signing a star player. Due to the deadlock in the negotiations between the players’ union and the NBA, an outflow of eminent basketball players is expected, which even clubs from Bahrain are claiming to be.
The NBA lockout has dragged on, and the season will not begin for sure before the Christmas break. Our man in the NBA, Andrei Kirilenko, is sure that the season will not take place at all, so he is completely focused on the Euroleague.
Recent events in the life of the NBA made unemployed players listen to Kira and start exploring overseas labor markets.
There are currently two NBA stars playing in Europe. Actually, Kirilenko himself, who signed a contract with CSKA, and Deron Williams, who plays in the Turkish Besiktas. JR Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin preferred basketball marked “made in China”.
The impasse in negotiations between the League and the union led to the fact that soon the fingers of one hand would not be enough to list all the migrant workers from the NBA.
Even Miami superstar Dwyane Wade does not deny the possibility of signing with an overseas club.Wade admitted that he is subject to herd instinct. “I’m with the majority,” Wade said. “If everyone agrees to leave, then I agree.”
The Miami idol has already told his agent to accept all worthy offers from foreign clubs. “This does not mean that tomorrow I will sign the contract, but we will at least explore the possibilities. Although I hope that at least by Christmas season in the NBA will be able to start. But I really miss basketball. Somehow I already missed a year without a game. I don’t want to miss another one.I don’t have many basketball years left. ”
CSKA basketball president Andrei Vatutin is sure that it is too early to talk about the outflow of NBA players to Europe. “There are more agent games here than reliable information,” Vatutin admitted to Gazeta.Ru. – Now no one has any clarity whether there will be a season or not. I’m not sure there will be any large-scale signatures in the near future. No self-respecting club will risk it. This is the first thing. Second, I am not sure that the economic situation of European basketball will allow all NBA basketball players, leading or not, to find a job in Europe.The line-ups of the teams have been formed, and we can talk about a few cases. Now the story is normal. Rumors are all around, agents are probing the market. We don’t even think about inviting Wade or anyone else yet, just because there is no clarity. ”
“We are not considering anyone at this time. Although, never say never, ”added the president of CSKA.
Vatutin talked about European basketball. But it turns out there is another player who can compete for star basketball players.
In addition to Europe and China, clubs from Qatar are showing interest in NBA players!
Al Muharrak coach Charlie Parker said: “Most teams cannot pull the salaries of NBA players. We are perhaps one of the wealthiest teams in Bahrain. I understand that many will disagree with our terms. Yesterday they received a million per season, and now they will be $ 100 thousand. But Bahrain is a beautiful country and an amazing vacation spot. ”
The main star of the NBA LeBron James often visits Europe now, but he does not intend to play basketball here.He also does not want to rest in Bahrain. The king is convinced that basketball does not exist outside the United States. LeBron is more into soccer. Liverpool, of which he is a co-owner, are playing Chelsea on Sunday. If he signed a contract, for example, with Khimki (since CSKA does not need him), he would have to play in the VTB United League against Astana. The Premier League is more interesting after all. Even Russian.
For news, recent results, divisional rankings, and much more about the National Basketball Association, visit the NBA page on page .
90,000 1998–99 NBA lockout – gaz.wiki
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- Suomen kieli
90,000 NBA lockout overcome by a 10-year agreement between players and clubs; the new season will begin on December 25 – International Panorama
NEW YORK, December 9./ Corr. ITAR-TASS Oleg Zelenin /. NBA club owners and players have signed a new agreement that ends a long lockout and allows a new season in the world’s strongest league to kick off on December 25, Catholic Christmas. This was announced here last Thursday by officials from the National Basketball Association.
“The treaty was ratified after the club owners and players came to a mutual agreement,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said at a press conference.Electronic voting on the new agreement was held in the morning and all athletes participating in the league took part in it. The leaders of 30 teams from two conferences – east and west – voted at a meeting in New York that evening.
The lockout, or a temporary work stoppage, lasted almost five months in the NBA and became the second longest in the history of the league. All this time, basketball players and their employers could not reach an agreement on the distribution of income and the level of salaries.
The new collective bargaining agreement is designed for 10 years – this is a record long period for the entire history of the league. According to observers, the agreement suits businessmen more than players. The latter made serious concessions, including cutting their combined wages to 300 million a year. In addition, the athletes agreed to another important concession – the division of profits between them and the clubs will henceforth be equal, instead of 57 to 43 percent, which existed until now.
The end of the lockout allows clubs to officially begin preparations for the season. Training bases will open this morning, and with them – a transfer window, in which experts expect several high-profile deals.
The agreement was reached almost at the last moment. In the event of another failure of the negotiations, the NBA would face serious difficulties in organizing television broadcasts for the next year, the grid of which begins to be drawn up on December 25th.This is what, experts say, exerted the greatest pressure on the parties.
Meanwhile, the joy of overcoming the prolonged lockout is overshadowed by the fact that the regular season will consist of 66 meetings instead of the usual 82. According to David Stern, the loss of 16 official matches of the tournament and the “preseason” will cost players and clubs a total of 800 million dollars.
The last time a lockout happened was in the 1998-1999 season, when the teams played even fewer matches in a truncated tournament – 50.
Lockout – cactus’ blog – Slamdunk.ru: all about basketball, news nba
Recently there have been a lot of conversations for and against the upcoming lockout, and I wanted to somehow summarize my thoughts, which I expressed throughout the entire negotiation period on this topic, but first a small introduction.
I want to remind you that a lockout is a temporary stoppage of work (or a significant reduction in production volumes) of an enterprise by the employer with the termination of salary payments, in order to put pressure on employees (analogous to a strike, but on the part of the employer, not employees) .In our case, this is the termination of the NBA regular season matches for an indefinite period.
Reason – In short, a lockout occurs when the players (represented by trade unions) and the owners of clubs cannot agree on financial activities (salaries) “I can say frankly: a lockout is inevitable. I am 99 percent sure of this development of events. Already now I advise players should refrain from spending big, because next year they will have to tighten their belts, so far no one wants to compromise.For my part, I look forward to sensible steps from the club owners. But so far there is no hint of this. I don’t know what to expect next, “ – quoted by the New York Times as the executive director of the NBA players union, Billy Hunter. This quote was quoted about half a year ago and was fully confirmed.
What the owners want very schematic
1. Players must agree to cut 20% on all new contracts. It is not so painful if you make millions, but it will enable the owners to make a profit again
2.The maximum contract duration should be reduced to five years instead of six, four of which will be guaranteed. This will reduce team losses from future erroneous contract decisions
This will move towards a hard cap on salaries in the next 2-3 years, as well as better ways to split income between teams from cities and towns to improve athletic competitiveness.
Some guys wrote here that it was necessary to reduce the number of clubs, but even when in the early sixties there were only 8 teams in the league, there were still weaker financially among them.And it will always be so, regardless of whether there are 8 teams in the NBA or 35. The number 35 is not accidental, since Stern himself does not exclude the emergence of a European division in the future, which will create new jobs and should serve as another argument for the players to go on the necessary concessions.
Now what the league has to do. I will refer to the opinion of George Eddie, a French-American sports journalist specializing in basketball, who, in my opinion, formulated everything very accurately.To avoid injury and lengthen players’ careers, the NBA must move away from doubles (i.e. when one team plays two consecutive days), which also reduces the quality of the game itself. NBA teams play about 15-20 doubles per season, and to Avoiding them The NBA should cut back on preseason to free up more time for the regular season. Also, the league should reduce the amount of some of the large fines that are imposed on players in order to get some of the money back. Last but not least, the NBA needs to create an effective and binding financial advisory body to help players avoid the personal dramas of former millionaires going broke like Scottie Pippen and Antoine Walker.
And finally, the last, but by no means unimportant. Team owners should significantly increase their contributions to the player severance fund over time. Thus, they will receive their money later, when they are older and smarter, and can better manage it
What the players want Yes, in fact, leave everything as it is, i.e. receive about 60% of the profit and do not bear any financial burden.
In 1998, the NBA had its third shutout in history.The strike lasted from July 1, 1998 to January 20, 1999, forcing the season to be shortened to 50 games per team. The All-Star Game, which was scheduled for February 14, 1999 in Philadelphia at the First Union Center, was also canceled. Until 1998, there were two more lockouts in the previous three years: a three-month stagnation in 1995 and a short-term shutdown in 1996 that lasted several hours.
Recognize the characters of the previous lockout
Since in US case law it would still not be bad to remind that last time Judge John Feerick , Dean of Foldham Law School, ruled that owners are not required to pay 224 players who filed a complaint. claiming that all players with guaranteed contracts have to pay when they are locked out.In doing so, the owners saved a large sum of money, plus money from the league’s new TV contract, while the players were forced to make do with only the small amount that was at the disposal of the players fund. Yes, if anyone does not know, during the lockout in the NHL, the players received from the union $ 10,000 per month
And now, without going into details, I would like to outline some points of the problem and what do I think about this
1. Somehow it always happened in my life that the trade unions were corrupt.So here, too, they care first of all about the stars, for which the salary losses are like pellet to the elephant. Advertising contract amounts are often well over the top, such as the incomes of the richest athletes in the United States over the past 12 months. You deduct the salary and you realize that it is not the most important thing.
1. Tiger Woods (USA, golf) – $ 75 million
2. Kobe Bryant (USA, basketball) – $ 53 million
3. LeBron James (USA, basketball) – $ 48 million
4. Roger Federer (Switzerland, tennis) – $ 47 million
5. Phil Mickelson (USA, golf) – $ 46.5 million.
and so on. And here are the simple workhorses of the Rollerball League
who live on loans and credits taken from banks do not fall badly on money. since no one will cancel payments on payments to them.
2. It is difficult to imagine any other business where employees receive more than half of the profits while not bearing any financial risks. But nobody canceled the financial crisis. It is enough to look at Europe to understand this.At the same time, the players generally don’t give a damn about anything and no business.
3. Well, and more about additional costs. In case of injury, illness, players continue to receive salary, they are treated at the expense of the clubs and I can assure you not in the outpatient clinic of the s / s Put Ilyich, but this money is very large. Of course, partially payment passes at the expense of insurance medicine, but this is paid by the club, but there is no guarantee that the player will play and at least partially be able to recoup the costs.
Of course, it is also true that players spend health and they are the main character in the game itself, but I would like to remind you that they are made stars not only by talent and work, but also by considerable investments of the club owners who create an infrastructure around these players that allows them not only to receive ideal conditions for training and games, but also does not care about what is called everyday life.
All that I have said here is far from indisputable, but this position is very close to me. Of course, I also did not want the season to be disrupted, but the fact that this is happening is a path to nowhere and threatens the successful existence of the league itself. Moreover, similar problems were solved in the NHL and in the MLB and in the NFL, and a salary ceiling of
was set everywhere.
90,000 Lockout in the NBA. Regards, Derek …
November 2, 2011
Derek Fischer, in his written address to the players, sharply denied
rumors that surfaced this weekend of a union split and undercover
negotiations with the leadership of the league.In his last letter to
league players union president Derek Fischer strongly denied
messages posted over the weekend claiming that
Billy Hunter and another unnamed executive board member
players questioned Fischer’s honesty and accused him of conducting
secret talks with NBA Commissioner David Stern and his deputy
by Adam Silver .
Text of Derek Fischer’s letter to the players
Interesting times have come right now.Watch
are ticking and we see that the games are already being lost. Our jobs are under
a threat, as are the jobs of all people associated with the league and the owners
businesses affected by the lockout.
We were ready for this. US
you need to make sure that we end up with the best deal of all
possible. It is worth remembering that the current situation will set a precedent for the next
6, 7, 10 and maybe even 20 years. My goal, the only goal of an executive
committee is to provide you with the opportunity to conclude the best possible
a deal that would most fairly take into account the interests of the players when
league revenue distribution.This is a very important moment for our work,
our sport and our daily life in the league.
committee, NBPA staff and I are conducting these negotiations very carefully. We are ready
continue to work hard on your behalf and come to a consensus to
to finally start the season, as soon as it becomes possible. I have spoken to many of you,
we listen carefully to your every opinion, to all suggestions and
ideas, no matter who they come from.This is your union, and we work with you and for
Many asked about the time frame during which the
canceling games. We know perfectly well that you, millions of our fans and people,
who work in arenas on a daily basis, this whole situation has
destructive influence. But team owners also need to understand that the means to
the existence of many people is now under threat. They had to accept
our great offer of over one billion dollars and discover
already the doors of our arenas, so that we, together with cashiers, parking attendants and the rest
service personnel were able to return to their usual
I usually do not comment on absurd media reports, but now
special situation. These rumors should not be given ground for further
distribution. Remember, I have always been with you and by your side. Doubt in
this can only be done by people who do not know me personally and do not know the history
my tenure at the head of the players’ union. Association players represent
are a single close-knit team, and all the accusations against us,
are false.There were no secret agreements, no secret negotiations
or something like that. We are united in serving you and strive to present the best
options to get you back to the hardwood floor.
All these rumors
emerging from anonymous sources, pursue only one single purpose –
split our ranks. But we are not so easy to break. We continue to work
every day to make our future, the future of the fans and the future of the league as
you can do better.
Team owners did not allow us to return to our beloved
work. Thus, they turned their backs not only on the players, but also on
fans who bring them their billions. I hope that they are still in
in the near future they will understand their mistake and compromise. This will
the only way that all parties benefit. I am you
call for participation. You don’t need to trust some outsiders. If you have
have questions or have doubts, call me, other players in
the executive committee or someone from the NBPA staff, we will always find
time to discuss any controversial or painful points.
I’ll be on
communication at the end of this week with new news on the progress of the negotiations.
90,000 Most Iconic All-Star Returns in NBA History – Jordan, Magic, Anthony
Stories of five legendary stars who have made unexpected and successful comebacks to the best league in the world.
37-year-old “big” Amare Stademayr recently left the Chinese club Fujian Xunxing. The six-time NBA All-Star has arrived in the United States and is training individually.Amare really wants to return to the NBA, where he hasn’t played since 2016. Unfortunately, Stademeier is hardly destined to realize his goal. Age, inefficiency on the perimeter, and, frankly, simply not in NBA-level form will prevent this from being done. However, there have been examples in history when star basketball players still returned to the league after various career challenges. Some comebacks are truly iconic and are central to NBA history.
On October 6, 1993, Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA, explaining his decision by a loss of interest in basketball.Later, Michael said that the murder of his father influenced this act. James Jordan Sr. was killed on July 23, 1993 in a highway recreation area in Lamberton, North Carolina, by two teenagers, Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery. Now the criminals are serving life sentences. Jordan was close to his father as a child and even imitated his tendency to stick his tongue out at work. Later, the protruding tongue became his trademark. He did this every time he attacked the ring. In his 1998 autobiography For the Love of the Game, Jordan wrote that he was preparing to retire in the summer of 1992.Michael worried about fatigue after playing for the US team at the 1992 Olympics, a loss of interest in basketball, and the difficulty of accepting celebrity status. For the whole world, MJ’s departure from basketball was a real shock. After all, he just finished the championship “three pits” with the Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993).
On March 31, 1994, Jordan further surprised the sports world by signing with the Chicago White Sox baseball club. Michael explained this by the fact that his late father saw him as a baseball player.Of course, it was not worth expecting success from him in the transition to a completely new sport. Jordan played predominantly for the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox farm club, during his short-term baseball career. It soon became clear that Michael could not do without basketball. On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to Chicago with a laconic statement: “I’m back.” Scotty Pippen himself did not pull the team, so Michael’s comeback was received very warmly. Jordan donned jersey # 45 (his Barons number), as # 23 had previously been retired in his honor.In his first game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, he scored 19 points. The match has received the highest television rating of any NBA regular season game since 1975. Michael played at an elite level despite missing a year and a half. He played in a clutch and often shipped 50+ points to opponents, for example, having shot 55 points in a game against the Knicks at the legendary Madison Square Garden arena. VIDEO
Although Jordan and Scotty Pippen did not work this time in the playoffs. Chicago lost the Eastern Conference semi-final streak against the Orlando Magic.The defeat forced Jordan to seriously prepare for the next season. The Bulls roster was joined by master of the game in defense and rebounding Dennis Rodman. Chicago finished the regular season with a score of 72-10. This record was broken by the Golden State Warriors in 2016, but at the time, the Bulls had the most dominant season in history. “Chicago” made it to the final, where they dealt with the “Seattle Supersonics”. This was followed by two more league titles, won in confrontation with the “Utah Jazz” John Stockton and Karl Malone.Jordan completed the second three pits (1996, 1997, 1998).
6 NBA Finals wins with 6 appearances, 6 NBA Finals MVP titles. Jordan decided it was time for him to quit basketball again. On January 13, 1999, he retired for the second time. This seemed like a logical decision given the accompanying circumstances. A lockout has begun in the league. Chicago changed significantly: the contract with coach Phil Jackson ended, Pippen wanted to change clubs during the season, Rodman moved to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent.
Jordan waited out the storm. On January 19, 2000, Michael returned to the NBA, although not as a player, but as co-owner and general manager of the Washington Wizards. Michael said that he was 99.9% sure that he would not enter the site again, but in the end the 0.1% probability worked. On September 25, 2001, Jordan signed with the Wizards. He donated his salary to a fund to help victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Jordan has not won the title in two seasons at Washington, but has not fallen below the 20.0 point mark.More than a decent result for a player who retired at the age of 40.
Jordan’s legendary career was filled with personal drama, but this did not stop him from playing basketball the best in the world. Michael is widely recognized as the best player of all time. He will retain this status in the near future, despite all attempts by LeBron James to catch up with his “ghost”. Michael is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. As a manager, he is not very successful, but his achievements on the floor will forever remain in basketball history.
Medical examination before the start of the 1991/92 season revealed that Magic Johnson is infected with HIV. On November 7, 1991, at a special press conference, he announced his retirement from the sport. Magic did it in the status of 5-time NBA champion, 3-time MVP of the league and 3-time MVP of the NBA Finals. Johnson initially stated that he did not know how he got infected. Although he later admitted that he had numerous sexual relationships, despite being married to Erlisa “Cook” Kelly. A small percentage of people contracted HIV from heterosexual sex, so Magic was declared gay or bisexual.He had to constantly refute this information. Johnson’s HIV finding became the hottest news in the United States. In 2004, ESPN ranked the event as the 7th most memorable moment of the past 25 years.
Johnson retired, but fans still chose him in the starting five for the NBA All-Star Game. Star colleagues Byron Scott and AC Green spoke out against Magic’s participation in this match. Utah legend Karl Malone even feared possible infection if Johnson received an open wound on the court.Be that as it may, Magic went to the match and played brilliantly. 25 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds earned him the MVP title of the show duel. VIDEO In 1992 Johnson became part of the Dream Team that won gold medals at the Barcelona Olympics. Before the start of the 1992/93 season, Johnson announced his desire to resume his career in the NBA. He played several matches in the preseason, after which he abandoned the idea. Too many active players were against Magic’s return to the floor. It was necessary to wait until all passions subsided.
For a time Johnson was in business, working as a commentator for NBC and writing a book on safe sex.
At the end of the 1993/94 season, Magic returned to the NBA as coach of the Lakers, but did not find success in this field. In the 1995/96 season, he finally returned to the court. Playing in the unfamiliar position of a heavy forward, he averaged 14.6 points, 6.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 32 games with the Lakers. After that, Johnson finally said goodbye to his player’s career.Johnson was named the best point guard in history by ESPN in 2006. Magic is a symbol of the Showtime era in the Lakers, for which he will be respected forever in Los Angeles.
Magic’s last job was with his hometown Lakers, where he served as president of basketball operations. Johnson helped Lakes to invite LeBron James, but King’s first season in Hollywood was disastrous. The team flew past the 2018/19 playoffs. Magic decided to leave. Now he is unemployed, but sometimes he makes himself felt with resonant statements in the media.For example, he recently credited himself with the success of the Lakers this season, and also said that Bronnie James could surpass his famous father in the future.
10-time All-Star participant and one of the best scorers in NBA history Carmelo Anthony has been without playing practice for more than a year. Melo’s career went downhill after joining the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2017 offseason. He was unable to accept the humble role in the company of star partners Paul George and Russell Westbrook.Oklahoma failed in the playoffs. Anthony was made the main scapegoat and traded to Atlanta, which immediately bought his contract.
In August 2018, Melo joined the Houston Rockets, taking the minimum wage of $ 2.4 million. At that time, he could no longer count on more, although he previously received under 30 million a year and had the right to veto the exchange. In “Houston” Anthony did not get along with another duo of stars. James Harden and Chris Paul seemed to support Melo in words, but the club stopped releasing him on the court after 10 games played.In January 2019, Anthony was traded to the Chicago Bulls, who immediately expelled the player.
After that no one wanted to buy Melo. He was considered self-centered, “toxic” and unable to accept a humble role at the age of 35. LeBron James didn’t want to take his friend to the Lakers. There was no interest from the rest of the clubs either. Anthony trained individually with no hope of returning to the NBA. This chance fell to him at the Portland Trail Blazers, who signed an unwarranted contract with the forward on November 19, 2019.
Portland took a risky move to acquire Anthony after a disastrous 5-9 start in the regular season. A regular playoff participant in recent years has found himself in the neighborhood of lottery teams. The front office decided that at least Anthony’s move would not make the situation worse. The Blazers were right. After Carmelo’s move, the team posted a 9-8 result and is already in the Western Conference playoff zone.
Anthony revived the Blazers. He averages 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds with 40.6% three-point accuracy.These are not superstar numbers, but few expected such from Carmelo. Anthony’s return to the game has been one of the most enjoyable stories of the 2019/20 season.
Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in NBA history. He received this award at 22 as a Chicago Bulls player. His career developed at a rapid pace, but then injuries intervened. In the first playoff game of 2012 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose suffered a cruciate ligament rupture. The most offensive thing is that the incident happened one and a half minutes before the end of the match, which Chicago won with a score of 103: 91.There was no point in keeping Derrick on the court with a +12 advantage, but head coach Tom Thibodeau decided to play it safe. It’s a playoff series after all. VIDEO After missing the 2012/13 season entirely, Rose is back in the game for the next campaign. In the 10th match of the 2013/14 regular season against Portland, he was again seriously injured, this time with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Fate was clearly not favorable to Rose. In the 2014/15 season, he was injured again, tore the same meniscus.
Over the years, Derrick has gone from one of the most promising players in NBA history to an almost useless asset.Chicago traded Rose to the New York Knicks during the 2016 offseason. Derrick had a good season at New York, averaging 18.0 points per game. He took part in 64 matches, which is quite solid considering the previous injuries. In the summer of 2017, Rose signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a veteran minimum. Derrick joined LeBron James’ team in hopes of fighting for the title. But the season at Cleveland did not go well. Before the deadline, Rose was traded to Utah Jazz, who were not interested in his services.Derrick became the fourth and youngest former MVP in NBA history to be dropped during the season.
It was at this moment that the total disbelief in Rose began. The defender was left without a club for about a month. The former MVP seemed to be offered only humiliating ten-day contracts. There was talk of moving to China, which effectively means ending his NBA career as a “downed pilot”. Shaquille O’Neal wrote off Derrick altogether. “Unfortunately, Derrick Rose cannot play like he used to.Derrick Rose’s career is over, ”Shack told TNT.
Trust was all Rose needed. Derrick remained unemployed for about a month. Fortunately, Thibodeau, out of old friendship, decided to take him to Minnesota. Derrick quickly thanked him for the chance. In 5 playoff games in 2018 against the Houston Rockets, he averaged 14.2 points in 24 minutes on the court. Minnesota lost a streak 1-4, but Rose did enough to secure a contract for next season. In the 2018/19 season, Rose established himself as one of the top sixth players in the NBA, averaging 18.0 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds.Derrick scored a career record 50 points in the match against Utah, after which he could not hold back his tears. The player has gone through too many adversities to calmly accept such moments. VIDEO In the 2019 offseason, Rose signed with the Detroit Pistons. Injuries still prevent him from playing on an ongoing basis, but Derrick is no longer buried. He has averaged 16.5 points and 6.0 assists in 25 games this season, being one of the Pistons’ top performing players.
Andrei Kirilenko’s situation is different from the aforementioned players.There is not an abundance of drama in his story, but the AK-47 also made an emotional comeback in the NBA.
In the 2010/11 season, Utah Jazz forward Kirilenko was in the top 10 highest paid NBA players with a salary of $ 17.8 million per year. Andrey’s resume already included participation in the NBA All-Star Game (2004), he was included in the symbolic fives of the league in defense three times (2004-2006), was the best in block shots of the season (2005). Prime time Kirilenko fell in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, but in the early 2010s, Andrei was a very prominent performer by NBA standards.After the 2010/11 season, Kirilenko became a free agent. The lockout began in the NBA. On October 4, 2011, Andrei signed a three-year contract with CSKA, but if the lockout ended, he could return to the NBA at any time, as did many league stars who left to play in Europe during a downtime in the league. The lockout ended before the end of 2011, but Kirilenko decided to play for CSKA for the entire 2011/12 season.
“To be honest, it was an easy decision. I decided that I want to play in Russia for six months. I wanted to play for my fans while I’m still at my peak and I feel good.I signed a contract with CSKA, which was my last club in Russia. I had a great time with a great team. And from the point of view of teamwork, it was immediately possible to feel that we approached each other, ”said Kirilenko. Kirilenko was right. With CSKA, he reached the Euroleague final, became the champion of the VTB United League. He was named MVP of the Euroleague season, the best defensive player of the tournament and included in the first symbolic five of the Euroleague. Kirilenko also became the MVP of the season and the Final Four of the VTB United League.Kirilenko was named the best European basketball player of 2012 by La Gazzetta dello Sport. Kirilenko became the first Russian basketball player to receive this award since the collapse of the USSR. FIBA also named AK-47 the best player of 2012.
Kirilenko dominated in Europe. The only thing missing was the Euroleague title, which took away Olympiacos, led by Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis, in the memorable 2012 final. In the wake of success, Kirilenko decided to return to the NBA. The contract option allowed him to terminate cooperation with CSKA at any time.AK-47 became a Minnesota player, in which he played together with Alexei Shved.
Kirilenko started the season with the Timberwolves starting lineup, serving as the main defense specialist. He became a mentor to the youth, being the most accomplished player on the team. Over the season, he averaged a decent 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The following summer, Kirilenko signed a one-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets, which was owned by Mikhail Prokhorov. At 32, Andrei faced signs of regression.He averaged 5 points in the 2013/14 season. On December 11, 2014, Brooklyn traded Kirilenko for Philadelphia. Due to AK’s refusal to play for the Sixers, the club disqualified him and terminated his contract. In the NBA, no one wanted to conclude an agreement with Andrey. On February 24, 2015 Kirilenko returned to CSKA. On April 1, he announced his transition to coaching. Andrey won the VTB United League champion title with the team, after which he retired.