NBA Labor 2016 – Business as usual

‘Twould appear it’ll be business as usual on the NBA front for the foreseeable future – pending “i” dotting, “t” crossing, and all in favor of making money saying “Aye.”

On the very morning that Stephen A. Smith calls LeBron James “tone-deaf” after the latter had used a Comp Day to play hookey from a business trip to Memphis.

While ESPN’s “Mouth that Roared” can occasionally seem more caricature than critic, props to him in this case!

In the long run, this aspect of “Business As Usual” is unacceptable. I don’t want to get some karaoke warbling when I’ve paid top dollar to hear Beyonce or Bette Midler.

As for the labor agreement, the details trickling out seem to indicate victory for the Commish and the league. The players yielded a whopping SEVEN percent of the revenue pool last time – not just a loss, but an ass-whoopin’. Little if any of that cut in pay is being recovered.

Now, fret not for the workforce, my friends. The salary numbers will be more astronomical than ever, what with boosts in minimal salaries and contract lengths.

The TV networks (RIP, Craig Sager) will continue to receive their programming, us geeks our numbers – the revolution and rotation of Planet NBA will go on uninterrupted (for six more years, anyway).

Little consolation to a Memphis fan base whose Grizzlies delivered them a win in Mr. James’s absence, though one not seasoned quite as tastily as they would have preferred.

Mr. Smith’s criticism of King James included the suggestion that he should deprive his home fans one of his 41 performances rather than to arbitrarily sit out his team’s only scheduled appearance at the arena of one of Dan Gilbert’s 29 business partners.

Stephen A.’s new “First Take” Significant Other rebutted that it would be wrong of LBJ to put any overall business concern of the league ahead of what’s been deemed best for his squad’s chances of defending their rings.

Basketball battle begets collateral damage, according to Mr. Kellerman – above and beyond the wear-and-tear on the bodies of the participants.

It also begets an inevitable tension between what’s best for “us” and what’s best for our little corporate village known as the National Basketball Association.

One of the few disagreements Red Auerbach ever had with his Boss, Walter Brown, occurred when Mr. Brown supported a proposal to provide the struggling Knicks (Is that redundant?) an extra first-round pick in the up-coming college draft because he felt it was best for the league that there be a strong team in the New York market – even if it strengthened a division rival. (The Knicks got the pick but continued to suck until the Holzman era.)

Of course, Mr. Brown’s mindset reflects a time when the NBA economy was driven by the box office. The year Wilt Chamberlain joined the league, the regular-season schedule was increased from 72 to 75 games. That same year, the Warriors’ Eddie Gottlieb petitioned his fellow owners to begin providing visiting teams a percentage of the league’s gate receipts – very outside-the-box thinking for that time frame. (Unfortunately, I don’t know how Walter Brown voted on this one.)

Perhaps it’s time for leaders like Adam Silver and Michele Roberts to resurrect the spirit of the Browns and Gottliebs, and address good-of-the-game issues like player participation with a little outside-the-box thinking of their own.

In the old days, there was such stiff competition for the fewer than 100 NBA jobs that most players were reluctant to take time off even for injury or illness – someone could “take their spot.”

In today’s world of guaranteed contracts and hefty buyouts, players are more likely to respond to an inducement (“the carrot”) than an ultimatum (“the stick”).

One idea that had been floated earlier this year was an NBA version of the “franchise” player – one player per team whose earnings would be unrestricted and would NOT count against the league-imposed salary cap or trigger penalties.

Here’s another notion that I believe to be an Abacus original.

Before doing anything with the league’s total revenue, let’s set aside $1 million per game, per team. (That’s not quite two-and-a-half billion – a little more than Ballmer paid for the Clippers.) For the season that’s 82 million bucks per team.

At that point, use the remaining revenue to create a salary cap as prescribed by the CBA.

As for the additional $82 million per team, those dollars would be proportioned out to the roster members on the basis of participation. It would be easy enough to create a simple distribution formula based upon games and/or minutes played.

Just a thought …

Abacus Revelation for the Road

Like Mama used to say, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Silver/Roberts image:
Kellerman image: Getty images