NBA owners need protection from themselves

NBA owners need protection from themselves
September 22, 2011, 9:21 pm
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I will now explain the NBA lockout at its essence for you. Actually, Rashard Lewis will do that. I will cut and paste his remarks. This is, after all, a full service shop.Speaking to the Washington Posts Michael Lee from Las Vegas, Lewis, who has been targeted as one of the reasons the NBAs salary structure is whacked by its owners, pointed out a very salient point.Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal.Exactly.

Lewis signed a six-year, 118 million deal with the Orlando Magic after the 2007 season not because he walked into Rich DeVos office with a pistol and told him to empty his vault and common sense, but because DeVos offered it to him. Just like every other player in every other sport in the history of the industry.When it comes to contracts, the players arent sitting there negotiating that contract, Lewis said. Im sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, I got a max on the table. Im not going to sit there and say, Naw, thats too much. Go out there and negotiate 20 or 30 (million) less. And neither would any of you if the chance ever arose.The fact is, salaries get out of whack because of two things:1. The owners get that blood apumpin when they fall in love with a player.2. The owners get buyers remorse when it turns out that players deteriorate over time.In short, every time an economic model in sports is broken, it is because the owners situation has changed. Either too many teams have lost their sense of proportion, or they arent generating as much money, or most often of all, losses in their other businesses have inspired them to shoot down their expensive hobby.In other words, the players are not responsible for anything except agreeing to play for the money the owner has offered them. They didnt break the system, if the system is actually broke. The owners did.Or at least the owners say they did. They say theyre bleeding money, which is what they always say the year before a CBA is due to expire. It is part of the life cycle of labor-management relations, which runs like this:1. A deal is signed, and the owners trumpet victory and the mechanism for profitability is ironclad and foolproof.2. The owners start getting that I-want-that smell in their noses that people do in car dealerships and malls.3. The commissioner tells advertisers their league has never done better and everyone is happy.4. The collective bargaining agreement expires in a year to 18 months, and suddenly everyone is losing his or her pantaloons.5. Lockout, until the players acknowledge that they are killing the golden goose.6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5.Happens every time.But Rashard Lewis is still right. No contract is ever signed without the owner saying, Yeah, Im good with this. Because owners are fans, and owners need fans, and owners fear fans. Owners love to look like the baddest dude in the room, and hurling money at the employees is a pretty big rush at the press conference.Conversely, not giving in to that quick adrenal fix makes the owner the butt of talk radio and newspaper and Internet japes, and owners have egos that are like yours and mine, only they can fire people to keep them fed.In short, they want their cake, they want to eat it, and still own the bakery. Which would be fine if they werent positioning themselves as moral and financial exemplars being screwed daily by the evil players and their malignant agents.Put another way, the next owner to stand up and say, I was a jackass. I am a jackass. Im probably going to keep being a jackass. Our salary structure is my fault will be the guest of honor in a crawlspace.But heres the best part. The owners want the players to shave a third off their salaries and agree to a hard salary cap, the one that the NHL owners got after closing their game for a year. Well, guess what? The NHL CBA comes up after this year, and owners are already saying the system doesnt work.You know what system would work for the owners? For players to play for nothing. And supply the balls and shoes and the uniforms. And treat their own injuries.Thats the goal. But theyll never get close but because, as Lewis said, they dont have the discipline God gave a heroin addict. They blow their own money because it gets them high, and then blame the players they give it to for taking it.I understand the owners dont want to overpay players, Lewis said, but youve got to do better negotiating. Try your best to save money.No, thats no fun, no fun at all. And after all, isnt that what you all go out to the arenas and stadiums every night and weekend to do -- see the owners have fun? Of course it is. Thats why so many people go to games to watch the ticket takers, and ignore the events on the field to stare rheumy-eyed into the owners' box.If thats what youre in it for, great. But youd save thousands each year merely by parking in front of a bank and staring at the ATM machine all day. And go team!

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