NBA Follows NFL Lead in Lockout of Players

July 1, 2011

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has followed the path of the National Football League (NFL) before it by locking out its players at midnight on Thursday, June 30, after eleventh-hour talks over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ended in stalemate.

A three-hour negotiating session between the league and its Players Association (NBAPA) concluded in both sides admitting that the discrepancy was too large to resolve before the deadline at midnight Eastern Time.

According to Reuters, although the current agreement calls for 57 per cent of basketball-related income to be distributed to the players under a US$58m per team cap system, the owners had asked for the revenue split to be 50-50 under the new CBA.

The union had agreed reduced its counter proposal to 54.3 per cent, the equivalent of $100m per year of additional revenue to the owners over a five-year term. However, with NBA commissioner David Stern having warned that the league will make a $300m loss in the 2010-11 season, the two sides were still $7bn apart in their demands over a 10-year CBA.

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said: “The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams. We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.

“We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2bn annually as the players’ share – an average of approximately $5m per player that could increase along with league revenue growth. Elements of our proposal would also better align players’ pay with performance. We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game.”

The lockout represents the NBA’s first work stoppage since the 1998-99 season, but the National Football League (NFL), North America’s richest major league, has also been in a lockout scenario since March. The Dallas Mavericks overcame Miami Heat in the finals of this year’s competition last month.

“We just haven’t been able to find that happy medium,” said union chief Billy Hunter. “We took a baby step (but) they didn’t take any at all. They started from what we considered an extreme number (initially) and trying to get to where we are or us get to get to them is mammoth.”