Here are a couple paragraphs from Yahoo's article on the NBA canceling all of November's games, and declaring that it would be impossible to play a full season at this point:
“It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now,” added Stern, who previously canceled the first two weeks of the season.Harsh circumstances, and harsh words. And at first glance, sure, you can understand how owners would be upset about all that lost money.
And he repeated his warnings that the proposals might now get even harsher as the league tries to make up the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be lost as the lockout drags on.
“We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is,” Stern said. “The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now.”
But hold up. Wasn't it part of the NBA's premise for the lockout that the league was losing money simply by operating? And let's be clear here, we're not talking about losing a few grand, or a few hundred grand. The line used in the article is "hundreds of millions of dollars." If the NBA is going to lose that much money by not playing games (AND not paying players to play those games), I think maybe they were pulling in a decent rake from the regular season.
The second part is more obvious: the players are losing their share of that money as well. You can think whatever you want about whether NBA players are "worth" what they're paid, but the fact is that the market has determined that 20 point-per-game guards are worth about $10 million a year, because that's what they make. And while it may behoove NBA players to accept a small pay decrease in order to help grow the league, they're entitled to fight for the right to a share of the pie.
For kicks, I did a little searching and found out how revenue was split in 2008 in other leagues (NBA owners are demanding a 50/50 split).
Percentage of revenue paid to top-level players (not including minor leagues, as of 2008)
NFL - 59%
NBA - 57%
NHL - 56.7%
MLB - 52%
The new NFL collective bargaining agreement actually has the NFL players' share plummeting down to about 48%, but that might be more appropriate based on the draw of individual players in the NFL versus the draw of the franchise itself. Browns fans like the Browns regardless of who's quarterbacking the team. I cite Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia, Kelly Holcomb, and Tim Couch, and the fact that Joe Mandi still loves the Browns. Or the nightmare of teams Washington has put on the field, and that the Skins have still boasted the first- or second-highest gross weekly attendance in football every year since 2006 (when apparently ESPN believes people began attending football games).
Anyways, I think it's a fair argument that NBA players are a greater part of the draw for their sport than the individual players are in any other sport. People go out to see Kobe or LeBron or Melo more than they go out to see the Cavaliers, the Knicks, or the Heat. It seems sensible that they'd command a higher share of the revenue, from a very basic standpoint.
I'm sure the issue is much more complex than I'm giving it credit for. But today, like most days, I'm siding with labor.