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NBA Lockout: Can The NBA Learn Lessons From The NFL?

The NBA may be having one of it’s most exciting playoff rounds in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean that we can ignore the labor front as the owners and NBAPA prepare for a battle of their own. David Stern, speaking to the AP, gave some reason for optimism yesterday:

Stern believes football’s labor situation, which he called a “mess,” was worsened by a lack of urgency to get a deal done well before its collective bargaining agreement expired, something he wants to avoid as his league tries to negotiate a new deal with its players.

“It seemed that at the end of the bargaining between the NFL and the players, one got the sense that in the last day or two they had closed the gap,” Stern said Thursday. “I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but that’s what I read. And you wonder as an outsider whether it would have been a good thing to close that gap a few days earlier, a couple of weeks earlier so that you had the opportunity and the plan to do that.”

The NBA plans to soon send the union a revised proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, hoping it will trigger meaningful negotiations ahead of the June 30 expiration date.

Of course, even if they do get to the table by then, there is really no need for urgency by either side. The deadline before the NBA starts losing fans isn’t July 1st. It’s the start of the regular season.

The real question to be asked is whether the owners will stick to realistic goals, or if, like the NFL owners, a hardcore group of them stick firmly to crazy demands. Lets see what Kurt Helin over at Pro Basketball Talk has heard:

But the people I talk to (people tied to owners among them) say there is a hard-core group of owners who are hawks on some key revenue issues, and at the end of the day Stern works for the owners. Those owners want radical changes in the NBA’s financial structure (basically a healthy change in the Basketball Related Income number, where currently 57 percent goes to the players) and don’t think that can happen until players miss paychecks (and players don’t get their first check until Nov. 15). So, games would be missed.

I want to think that cooler heads will prevail. Stern and Hunter are cooler heads. Everyone talks about what is at stake. But know that some of the owners look a lot like the Heat Miser going into this.

Hmm, sounds pretty familiar. Looks like it’s a good time to have a niche sport in America while the big boys continue to slug it out over the money the fans put in their coffers. MLS? NASCAR? Anyone?

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.