Leave it to the players and owners to wait until Day No. 116 of the NBA Lockout to attempt sound bargaining strategy.
It's been a somewhat common argument in both the NBA and NFL sagas that neither side will move to do anything substantial until games are potentially lost and the money stops flowing. We thought we had reached that point with the NBA earlier this month, when it "cancelled" the first two weeks of its regular season for the first time in over a decade.
But, wait. Is an 82-game regular season is still on the table?
The two sides engaged in what is being a dubbed a 15-hour "marathon meeting" on Wednesday in an effort to make serious headway on a deal. From the details that have emerged, it sounds as though progress was made, enough at least that Stern, Silver, Hunter, Fisher and the rest will be right back at it this afternoon.
Their Bold New Strategy: work on the system issues first—cap exceptions, the cap itself and the luxury tax—and then come back to talk about BRI (basketball related income) once those issues have been settled.
If this sounds familiar, Billy Hunter and the players tried this style of bargaining during the all-night meetings of October 9th and 10th. Though they were able to hammer out an agreement on a reduced version of the mid-level exception, that tiny sense of achievement was quickly squashed by a take-it-or-leave-it BRI ultimatum from the owners, a move that forced the Association to where it currently stands—117 days into a lockout.
But now, as is being reported by multiple outlets, given the progress that's "miraculously" been made over night, a full 82-game season might still be a possibility. From the New York Daily News:
David Stern and the NBA players are not only trying to save Christmas but they may even salvage the entire 2011-12 season.
Following a marathon 15-hour negotiating session that concluded at 3 a.m. Thursday, officials from both sides said there is a possibility that an 82-game schedule can be played if a new collective bargaining agreement is finalized within the next five to seven days.
Granted, producing a fully-ratified CBA in that span of time is unlikely. Moreover, the players could very well balk at the idea of an increase in back-to-back games to keep the league within in its normal dates. But the fact that playing 82 games is still even a remote possibility at this stage is simply awful.
Now, given the response it received, at least a few of you we'll remember my "What's with You People Hating on the NBA?" post from a few weeks back. Thus, you might be surprised that I'm suddenly terming a full 82-game season "sad" and then "awful."
Look, the fact is, even though I love the product, the NBA deserves to lose money over this. It deserves to lose games.
Though the NFL's labor talks were an amoral—perhaps even immoral—exercise in greed, at least the league got its collective "stuff" together in time to save the season without the forfeiture of a single game. The NBA, on the other hand, they've been operating not from greed, but from a position of obdurate stupidity since the beginning of this fiasco on July 1st, and, frankly, even long before that.
Is it good for basketball fans that they're making progress? Yes. But is it nonetheless inexcusable that this progress could not be made in the intervening months between July 1 and October 10th? Same answer.
Don't blame either side. They're both at fault. This video we linked to last week from The Onion captures that sentiment perfectly.
Sure, I want basketball; but, as a loyal fan of the NBA, I'm also more than upset that I've had to watch such child-like behavior unfold between adults who—whether they want to acknowledge it or not—run a profitable league.
Play 74 games for all I care. I'll be happy about it. I'll even be happy for 50. Hell, I'm in for any at all. But, after all this time, don't you dare reach back for those once "lost" 8 games worth of revenue.
None of you deserve an extra cent.
Image courtesy the JBOMB Basketball Blog.