NBA owners officially locked out players at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday morning, when the collective bargaining agreement expired. Here is a sampling of what is being said around the Inter-Google about the lockout.
"We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game. It just wasn't a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn't one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in," Stern said. "The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete."
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday and a final proposal from the players -- which NBA leaders said would have raised average player salaries to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal -- the sides could not close the enormous gulf between their positions.
"The problem is that there's such a gap in terms of the numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can't find any way to bridge that gap," union chief Billy Hunter said.
Now, the game begins.
Here are the results:
The players will lose. They can only change the score.
The good thing in professional sports negotiations of all sorts is that even when you lose, you kind of win, even if the NBA players won’t see it that way when sitting across a bargaining table from NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA owners. But in the negotiations on the issues at hand, the players cannot win.
All the goodwill the NBA has spent years developing is about to disappear like LeBron James in the fourth quarter of a championship series.
The weird thing is how Stern and the owners are going down this mad path so matter-of-factly, treating this fork in the road too much like a detour instead of the route to self-destruction it could easily become. Their lockout has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, and now the consequences begin.
How long will this go on? Union chief Billy Hunter anticipated that another meeting will be called in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, he and union president Derek Fisher must consider the unlikely option of decertifying and putting their case into the court system, if they believe they can't get a fair hearing from the owners.
The owners say it's this simple: 22 teams are losing money because they're spending too much on players. The NBA has been losing money for years, and if that trend isn't arrested then everyone -- including the players -- will suffer.
If they need to sacrifice part of all of the season in order to establish a system that can create long-term growth for everyone while enabling the small markets to compete with the large, then the sacrifice may be worthwhile -- that's their view.
The players contend that intelligence and wisdom can't be legislated. Even if they surrender vast sums of money, will that encourage the owners to run their businesses more efficiently? Or will the dysfunctionality of many teams grow worse if the owners are able to coerce a hard-cap system that guarantees each of them an annual profit?
According to league sources, the owners are willing to potentially wipe out the 2011-12 season to change the economic system. A handful of NBA owners have ties to the NHL, where a lockout caused the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, and are convinced the players will eventually cave.
The league already had canceled summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas in anticipation of a work stoppage, and yesterday’s news was expected. Commissioner David Stern has claimed that 22 teams are losing money and the current soft salary cap, in which the players get 57 percent of the league’s basketball-related revenue, is a flawed system.
The Players Association has insisted it won’t approve any semblance of a hard salary cap, which would allow teams to release players without full compensation because of their salaries. Two weeks ago, the owners backed down from their insistence of no guaranteed contracts, but the players contend that limiting the amount teams can pay their players is a form of a hard cap.
Is there any good news? Well, the NHL isn't in a lockout. Baseball season is still going on. The NFL Lockout looks like it should end soon. But, the NBA? Not much, if any, good news there.