Don’t let Stern fool you. This lockout is going exactly according to plan.
“I don’t really get into the NBA until after football’s over anyway.”
That quote comes from the lovely Danielle, Ph.D. candidate and devoted disciple of the Sportsfan Journal and the Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show. It also sums up, in a nutshell, why the owners are beating the players like a drum and have a good chance of getting everything they want.
Mr. Stern deserves to be nominated for an Academy Award for the way he has had to get in front of the cameras and pretend to be frustrated at the lack of progress in negotiations, along with the loss of November and December games. The fact of the matter is Stern has been preparing the owners for this for three years, and the owners care as much about the first two months of the season as casual fans do.
Ok. Raise your hand if you’re really upset over missing that Memphis – Utah game last Wednesday. Yeah, that’s what I thought. For most of us who don’t actually live in an NBA city, the unofficial opening day for the NBA is Christmas. Even with the addition of LeBron and the incredible hype surrounding he and his team, many tickets for Miami games last November went unsold.
This gives the owners a fantastic bargaining position. They make their money on the back end. Interest increases around Christmas, and the network TV contracts don’t start until after the Super Bowl in February. The owners make most of their money after the All Star Break and throughout the playoffs. However, for the players, it’s a different story. They get paid in equal installments. A paycheck is a paycheck, regardless of the date on the calendar.
If the players wanted to have the upper hand, they should have done what baseball players did in ’94. Play most of last season, then strike. That way, the players get most of their money, and the owners miss out on their profits. Oh well: too late now. That’s what they get for not calling me!
The owners aren’t caving anytime soon. They can easily ride this out another month. If they play from Christmas or even mid-January until July, that would be fine with them. They will make most of their money anyway, and have a ten-year deal that gives them the upper hand. They’ll even be able to get more playoff games on network TV, since the summer is the slow time for TV anyway. What’s not to like?
Simply put, if the players don’t cave, enjoy football and college hoops. The owners are in no hurry.
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