If you like NFL labor talks, you’ll love these
“So long for a while, that’s all our songs for a while....
That’s how a TV show called “Your Hit Parade” signed off in the 1950s, when kids gathered around their TVs on Saturday nights to see which songs made its top 10, with someone named Snooky Lanson — I’m not making this up — doing Elvis Presley numbers, backed by the Lucky Strike Orchestra.
It signed off for good in 1959 with Snooky’s version of “Hound Dog” often cited among the reasons.
Of course, the NBA will soon sign off for a while too, or so much for professional basketball as we know it.
Last week’s labor talks with their new proposals, softened demands, reports of progress, etc., were just for show, setting up their court case when the players and owners start suing each other, which won’t be long.
The lockout is as it always was, and will be up to midnight Friday, when it starts, a lock.
After that, nobody knows what will happen, not even Commissioner David Stern, orchestrator of orchestrators, if no longer unchallenged lord of all he surveys, caught between his angry owners and his outraged players.
If this sound and fury signifies something, I’ve thought all along it wasn’t as dire as it looked, or a major hype.
By the way, did you notice the NFL owners’ dire situation turned into a total hype?
On Day 103 on the NFL lockout, it now is a hopeful model as its owners and players close in on a deal.
Of course, this was a vanity lockout for NFL owners, with the average team making $33 million last season, according to Forbes Magazine.
The NBA has real issues, which include the owners’ revenue sharing, or lack thereof, as well as player costs.
So this should take at least 103 days, with the season openers around Day 120.
In the meantime, here are some terms that will come in handy.
Decertify: What the National Basketball Players Assn. is likely to do after it’s locked out, as the NFL players did.
Antitrust suit: What the players will file, as NFL players did.
Appeal: What the NBA would then file, as NFL owners did, when the players’ temporary injunction was lifted.
Face-saving settlement: What NFL owners are now down to, after starting so imperiously that Carolina owner Jerry Richardson could ask Peyton Manning:
“Do I need to help you read a revenue chart, son?”
Actually, someone needed to tell Jerry and the guys they were sticking their heads into a cannon, as they obviously couldn’t tell themselves.
The union had decertified before.
The federal court in Minnesota, which had jurisdiction, had been handing NFL its head for decades.
Now peace is suddenly at hand, with the owners’ 18-game season set diplomatically aside as “a negotiable item.”
Revenue sharing: Noble idea the NBA subscribes to, in principle.
In hard numbers, while the NFL distributes $4 billion in TV revenue evenly to its 20 teams, and baseball redistributes $450 million, the NBA is at a vestigial $45 million.
What little NBA owners have shared has always been worked out among themselves, after making a labor deal.
This time, if it’s not part of collective bargaining, it will be done in conjunction with the talks.
With union head Billy Hunter asking why the players should bail everyone out, he has a tacit ally — small-market owners, who are just as eager for revenue sharing ... and, for the first time, voting as a bloc, without which Stern can’t make a deal.
Debt service: With interest added in, Stern insists the NBA is losing $300 million annually.
Of course, the loans are so big because franchise values remain robust for such a, quote, dire time.
Welcome to our world.
Half the nation is “upside down,” stuck paying off mortgages greater than our homes are worth.
If we were NBA owners, we’d be asking the players to help pay our mortgage ... while keeping 100% of the money we make in our 401 (k)s.
It can’t be easy to be an NBA owner, with Jerry Buss, the most successful of them, about to lay off everyone on his organizational directory up to and including assistant GM Ronnie Lester, who led Jim Buss to Andrew Bynum so Jerry could give his son the credit forever after.
Of course, Jerry knows he’ll be writing the biggest check if the owners don’t prevail, which is why he’s not his usual peacenik self.
You wouldn’t think it would be that tough with a $3-billion cable deal in hand, but apparently it is.
Not that last week was tough for the Lakers family, but every time you saw a Buss in El Segundo, with their soon-to-be-gonzo scouts in for the draft, he was staring at the floor.
In any case, it’s their league, so let them worry about it.
Have a nice summer, and if you hear the words “NBA labor,” that’s what your remote is for.
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