Thursday, June 30, 2011

Twas the Night Before The NBA Lockout...

And although NBA Commissioner Stern and the Player Rep. Billy Hunter did meet;
All they could agree upon was: any basketball that fans will hear about will only be via Shaq's Rec. League Tweets.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Player Association head met today in New York for three-hours as a last ditch effort of avoiding an inevitable work stoppage. The NBA will lockout the players effectively at 12:01 EST tonight when the current agreement expires. All league business including free agent signings, trades, and summer league will be halted during the lockout.

Although, in essence, the effect of the lockout will be similar to that of the NFL, it is quite likely that this one may me lengthier than the NFL's (reportedly, the NFL and its players may be close to an agreement, but more on that in a subsequent post). Tulane University Sports Law Professor Gabe Feldman wrote an excellent overview on the NBA lockout. The major themes that will be discussed over and over again is the fact that the NBA wants to move from a soft cap to a hard cap, reduce length of contracts and other related issues. How this differs though from the NFL is that the NBA will claim that by not playing under the terms of the current CBA, NBA teams and the League as a whole would lose money, since many of the individual franchises did not do well last year. This is in direct conflict with the NFL, where even though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would never admit it, close to every NFL franchise owner made money last season, and the NFL itself, was quite profitable. Right now, the basis of the NFL disagreement is how to share the profit. This is not so in the NBA.

So what happens next? It is quite possible that the NBA Players Association (NBAPA) will take a play right out of Tom Brady's playbook and decertify their union and file an anti-trust suit. However, the NBAPA is probably waiting to see how it works out for Tom Brady and co. as their lawsuit is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. However, if the NFL and NFLPA come to an agreement prior to the 8th Circuit decision, or even if the 8th Circuit rules against the NFLPA, the NBAPA could possibly decertify and bring suit in a employee/union friendly jurisdiction.

If you're a basketball fan, things could get ugly fast. However, if you are a sports law nerd like me, this ride should be an enthralling and prolonged soap opera. So who do you think will try another sport or pick up a new activity a la Chad Ochocinco? How about we send Omri Casspi, Jordan Farmar and Ron Artest to bring some "Metta World Peace" to the Middle East. I wouldn't mind watching Sir Charles Barkley taking hacks on the PGA tour. Maybe Lebron will try out his acting chops and star in Space Jam 2; it seems like the only way he can win a meaningful game is if it's written in a Hollywood script...Stay tuned.

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