The NBA lockout for the uninitiated


Editor’s Note: Ryan Weisert is a guest writer for ValleyoftheSuns.

On Friday, the NBA announced the cancellation of all its November games. A full 82-game season is no longer a possibility. So unlike the NFL lockout, which saw the cancellation of only one preseason game and is all but forgotten after seven weeks, this NBA lockout will indeed be an indelible black mark on the league’s history. So now that the league is guaranteed to miss games and even casual fans are beginning to take notice, let’s break down the two sides’ issues and grievances in terms everyone can understand.

If you’re married, in a long-term relationship, or have been dating for more than a month, you’ve probably had a huge fight somewhere along the way. This fight may have persisted for more than one day, and though it wasn’t large enough to make you leave the relationship altogether, it may have disrupted your day-to-day interactions and put everything else in your life on hold. This type of domestic conflict perfectly describes the NBA’s current labor situation. The two sides, NBA ownership and the Players Association, are like a husband and wife who have hit a long rough patch and are trying to work it out in marital counseling.

For the purposes of this column, the NBA Players Association will play the role of the husband. The NBA owners will play the role of the wife. Like most marriages in trouble, this one has had problems brewing under the surface for a long time. The 1999 CBA merely bandaged over these problems without solving any of the underlying issues. These issues remained unaddressed as the league enjoyed prosperity over the last 13 years. But despite the 2010-11 season being one of the most successful in NBA history, the owners aka the wife finally had enough. She kicked the husband out on July 1, 2011, changed the locks, and hasn’t let him back in the house since. Now both sides are trying to test the other’s resolve. Let’s take a look at some of the issues keeping the sides apart.

Time with the Kids vs. Free Time (BRI split)

Make no mistake about it, the NBA players aka the husband are the breadwinners in this relationship. They work hard, have limited job security, and generate ridiculous amounts of revenue. Their contention is that because they work so hard, they should have more time to themselves (a bigger piece of Basketball Related Income). The wife’s contention is that this is a marriage, and in a marriage everything gets split down the middle. Meaning, that no matter how hard the husband works, he still has to put in his fair share of time with the kids (give the owners 50 percent of the pie).

Shopping Trips and Expensive Taste (Revenue Sharing and Amortization)

Like so many couples, money is a huge stress on the marriage. The husband contends that much of the financial trouble the couple finds themselves in is due to the wife’s exorbitant spending habits. She went into huge credit card debt for her wedding dress and their extravagant wedding (borrowed to buy the team in the first place). Now the finance charges and monthly payments are crippling them financially (causing the league to lose $300-plus million). The husband maintains that if she would simply spend her money more wisely across all the areas of the family budget (revenue sharing) then they wouldn’t have to constantly worry about money and there would be less stress in the marriage overall.

Sex (Contract Length and Guarantees)

The wife’s first move was to withhold sex completely and make no guarantees on it moving forward (non-guaranteed contracts). At this, the husband stormed out of the counselor’s office refusing to return until she rescinded her statement. Afterward, the wife tried to use the fact that she was willing to have sex with her husband as proof she was willing to soften her demands and negotiate. The husband was flabbergasted at this insinuation because, in his mind, restoring something he previously had is not a concession at all. The husband is looking for a guarantee on the number of times per week the couple has sex. The wife wants that number to be low, the husband wants it high. This isn’t rocket science.

Indiscretion Forgiveness (Contract Amnesty)

The wife has a history of infidelity (bad contracts Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas, etc.). She wants forgiveness for at least one of these as a part of the reconciliation. The husband understands that however distasteful he finds this, it may be the right thing to do to make progress.

Seeing Other People (Playing Overseas)

The husband has attempted to make his wife jealous by going out on the town with other women (playing for other teams in Europe.) His dates have really failed to affect his wife in any meaningful way. She’s smoking hot, a great mother, and comes from family money. She is the best possible option, and when things were good with her, it was the happiest he’s ever been. But the recent turn for the worst in their relationship has him looking long and hard at making a clean split and committing to someone else (half the Denver Nuggets playing in China). The wife knows she’s the best thing going and seems unfazed by the husband’s playing the field.

In the end, both sides know that without reconciliation, this marriage is over. Though they have seemed content to push things to the brink, in their heart of hearts, neither side wants a long-term separation (missed season) or divorce. They both know they would be happier together than they ever could be apart. As in all relationships, both sides will have to give a little and meet the other person at their greatest need if there is any hope of reconciliation.