Do Not Let David J. Stern Fool You

By Dr. Jeff A. Glenn - @jagadelic

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.

Source: CNBC

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.

13 Replies to “Do Not Let David J. Stern Fool You”

  1. Dr. JAG, I wish you weren't right about this, but I am afraid you are dead-on. These young guys spend their money as fast as it comes in (don't we all) and have a LOT of mouths to feed. I can't imagine if I was bringing in that kind of change, what my extended family and friends would do. The pressure is all on the players to cave, because they only know one way to make money, by playing basketball. The owners all made their money elsewhere, then bought their teams, so they can ride this out. This actually makes me somewhat optimistic about a season (shortened, obviously) but I feel bad for the players who will be getting less and less.

  2. This post hails the truth. Leverage is the only power move any one has and now owners are not going to cave in especially since they feel like the leverage will be in their favor as players cars and houses start getting repossessed.

  3. Raises both hands

    I absolutely love the NBA, but to be honest, I wasn't completely sure I'd miss it until Christmas, as you so eloquently put it. But turns out, I miss it big time. Maybe the Eagles sucking and the whole debacle of my alma mater has something to do with yearning for basketball, but I'd love to watch Utah-Memphis to help me get through the week.

    I may have a problem.

  4. @Joe - Exactly. Players are giving up valuable paychecks. Owners are giving up the two least profitable months on the schedule. I'll bet only the biggest of the big markets make money in Nov and Dec. Lakers, Mavs, Bulls, Knicks, Sixers. Other owners are happy to sit tight. Look for players to cave by the end of the month.

    @Rev - You're in an NBA city so this post really doesn't apply to you. Yes, I can see how after what happened to the Phillies, Eagles and Nittany Lions, you're desperate enough to hope that the Sixers can give you some sports sustinance! Don't worry. You'll have Evan Turner and the boys back by Christmas or January at the latest and they'll play until the 4th of July.

  5. @Bruce Leroy - You're right, the players will feel the pain first. At the behest of family and friends, players are constantly asked to invest in (put up all capital and credit for) nightclubs, restaurants, limo services, beaauty salons, etc. Often, no one in the family has any experience running these businesses. So, when Stretch Jones' Uncle opens a mens' clothing store specializing in trying to bring the Zoot Suit back, Stretch is the one the creditors come looking for.

    I think there will be a shortened season as well. Don't know if I feel bad for the players. Many of us have to live on less in this economy. Too many players have taken advantage of the guaranteed contracts and not given 100% every season.

    I wouldn't be surprised if owners considered making a Dec-July schedule a permanent thing. That's one less month competing with football (tough) and one more month competing with baseball (not so tough).

  6. Jag makes some good points here and now has me wondering why the NBA players didn't do what baseball did.

    For me, I think the players are willing to take this year's losses if they can get a better contract down the line because no matter when the different factions make their money i.e. at the end of the season or a trickle throughout, what the owners are trying to do is well very de facto management. Basically, they are trying to devalue the worth of the players (read - labor) so that they can increase their profit margins. However, the problem with the NBA versus other lockouts, at least the NFL one, is that the NBA owners have created their own hole, that they are crying out "oh we're not making money," similar to the US banking industry creating the hole that caused the bursting of the housing bubble and their cries of, "bail us out because we're too big to fail!"

    Basically, by creating an environment where Lebronapalooza and other ring chasing trades can happen combined with a space where most of the NBA championships are in the hands of two major market teams, LA and Boston, the NBA front office and owners have created an unsustainable system and they are now reaping what they have sown via this embarrassing NBA Lockout.

  7. @DNMP

    *Baseball has the strongest union of all. They can get their players to strike proactively, before the owners put the hammer down. Football and Basketball players don't have that kind of solidarity. I don't know why.

    *Agreed. Owners are trying to make certain that labor costs do not exceed a threshold which devalues the worth of the teams. The problem is that it's a very specialized talent pool and the teams compete with each other for the same tiny labor force. This artificially increases salaries. On the flip side, the players' problem is that the owners have a monopoly - there's nowhere else to go to offer their services. (Overseas? Please!). So, they're stuck with each other. Sacrificing two months is a strong move by the owners, but, if they get greedy and throw away the season, that would be beyond moronic.

    *You object to Lebronapalooza and ring chasing trades? Why? LeBron put in seven years in Cleveland. I understand that competitive balance is needed but, at some point, shouldn't a player be able to put his services on the open market? Kareem put in his time in Milwaukee and even delivered a title before he ran off to LA. Shaq in Orlando is a similar story.

    *It's clear that large market teams win just about all of the championships. But, when run correctly, small market teams can do very well, like the Porter and Clyde Portland teams, the Malone and Stockton Utah teams and the Reggie Miller vs. Knicks wars. OKC looks to be next.

    *Boston and LA win most of the championships because they have had the smartest strategy. Auerbach got Bird in a supplemental draft because he had a "redshirt" year at IU before playing at Indiana State. I'll bet half of the other owners were caught napping on that one. LA got Magic because Cleveland had the stupidest owner of all time and was giving away first round picks for duct tape and piano wire. Boston got KG and the Lakers got Gasol in two other head scratchers.

    *Besides, the league is more profitable when big market teams do well. What do you think the ratings would be for a Sacramento - Charlotte NBA Final? Sacramento and Charlotte know this. They're not asking to win as many titles as the other teams - just have a chance at a 50 win season to maintain local interest and make money.

    1. @Jag * on Lebronapalooza: Basically, I agree with motive but disagree with the method. I disagree with the fact that it in fact became Lebronapalozza. I feel that Lebron handled the trade wrong. I do completely understand why he had to leave, Cleveland did not give Lebron what he needed to get a championship or to even just have a competitive team without draining/burning him out.

      *on Small Market teams doing well - those teams were able to do well because they were in a different NBA. Just like in other areas of the workforce people are not staying in one job for their whole careers and I'm not sure if a Clyde, Mailman or Stockton would have stayed with their teams if they came into the current NBA climate. And the NBA did not prepare itself for this climate shift unlike its players who have benefitted.

      * on Boston & LA - I completely agree with you but I add that again the NBA system and structure facilitates this type of skew. The NFL has the wildcard and the one and done playoff system that assists in the rotation of NFL championships (I mean wasn't NOLA a wild card when the won it all?) and I'm assuming other things that I admit my naiveté, I'm a relatively new serious football fan. I don't see much in the NBA system to help in the rotation of the "wealth" per se. The draft is supposed to do it but when good players leave the "bad" teams they are drafted to as soon as they can (Lebron & Melo) because smaller teams can't keep big names for lack of funds or resources this facilitates the tensions that have caused the current lockout while hindering these "bad" teams' ability to turn their franchises around.

      *on big name finals - I agree in part but what has the NFL been able to do where it doesn't matter who is playing people tune into the SuperBowl and what can the NBA do to learn from that. I understand that the NBA needs people's attention up to seven games and the NFL just needs a few hours for a final game but the NBA needs to find a way to get a March Madness type following for the NBA Playoffs and "David Stern Marketing" (read - ref scandals & indirectly or directly endorsing such scandals in favor of a big name finals e.g. *cough* LA's 02 "championship" after that biased West Conference finals matchup) is not going to help the NBA get there.

  8. players seem united in this. they will not take a bad deal for 10 years imo and I dont see them doing this. They seem strongly united and are smart enough to know whats up. Hopefully the owners will give the players a better deal and let them play this season. If not, then hopefully next season will be great!

  9. @Klown - I would say February 1st is a good bet.I still think they have a shot at Christmas. But if they miss that, mid-January. Give them a couple of weeks before football ends and they can get on network TV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *