The NBA is headed for a Lockout. Just like the NFL, talks between representatives of NBA owners and players broke down this afternoon with NBA Commissioner David Stern announcing the owners would lock the player out starting at 12:01 AM Friday morning.
"I'm not scared," Stern said. "I am resigned to the potential damage that it can cause to our league and all the people who earn a living from our league, and as we get deeper into it, these things have the capacity to take on a life of their own, and you don't ever predict what will happen."
NBAPA Director Billy Hunter was surprised the owners decided to move forward with the Lockout, much like the NFL Owners were surprised NFL Players took their fight into the court system back in March.
"It's been extremely cordial. It's almost like we were singing 'Kumbaya' at the end," Hunter said after three hours of talks -- a portion of which were set aside for lunch -- ended with the owners deciding to impose a lockout. "I couldn't believe that. We were all shaking hands and saying 'We'll see you in a couple of weeks, have a good Fourth of July weekend.'"
Now we all wait and see exactly what the next moves are. Both sides will take the holiday weekend off to consider their options, and face a similar scenario to that of the NFL in March. With no REAL deadline until September, can the two sides make any real progress? In the case of the NFL, only now are the two sides understanding the seriousness of the situation. Can the NBA, whose financial system is said to be in worse condition to that of the NFL, avoid a stoppage that loses games?
Not today. The Commissioner decided to end the talks altogether when the NBAPA offered a six-year proposal that would raise the average player salary to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal.
Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the players' proposal would provide for a guaranteed profit of $80 million for the owners (excluding interest costs on franchise purchase costs) in the final year. But $80 million for the 2016-17 season was simply not enough.
"It's like taking a baby step or a giant step. We took a baby step," Hunter said of the players' latest proposal. "They didn't take any [step] at all. The discussions were very amiable. I remember when we negotiated the deal in '98, there was always a lot of acrimony, but it's very professional this time. They have a job to do, we have a job to do. We've been respectful throughout, they have certain views on some of the issues that differ from ours, and we haven't been able to find that happy medium, and I think that's the problem."
The NBA is coming off a 2010-11 season that saw the return of the casual fan and ratings that have never been higher. Now the League is risking the loss of all the momentum they had built up - and losing games could be a huge blow to the NBA.
As far as Cleveland goes, we now have just the Indians to spend our sports entertainment dollar on. Perhaps they can take advantage of the Lockouts in the NBA and NFL to bring fans back to Progressive Field. Staying in the hunt for the playoffs would go a long way.