NBA cancels first two weeks of regular season in labor dispute
NBA Commissioner David Stern on Monday canceled the first two weeks of the regular season after a seven-hour negotiating session with locked-out players in New York failed to produce a new labor deal.
Stern told reporters there’s “no chance” of a full, 82-game schedule as the league announced all games through Nov. 14 are scrapped. This marks the NBA’s first work stoppage since a labor dispute shortened the 1998-99 season to a 50-game regular season.
“With every day that goes by, there will be further reductions in what’s left of the season,” Stern said Monday, adding the sides are “very far apart on virtually all issues.”
Players union president and Lakers guard Derek Fisher told reporters, “This is not where we choose to be. We’re not at a place where a fair deal can be reached with the NBA.”
Union Executive Director Billy Hunter said he was “convinced” this was a predetermined course by owners, “just part of the plan.”
Stern, his deputy Adam Silver and several owners met with the union but failed to resolve differences on how to divide basketball income and handle restrictions on each team’s costs. The two sides met for nearly 13 hours of talks over two days.
“Unfortunately we may need to miss a few games for them to know there’s resolve among the players,” Hunter said.
The cancellations cost the Lakers eight games, including the Nov. 1 opener at Staples Center against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers will lose seven games. NBA teams Monday night quickly deleted games scheduled before Nov. 15 from their websites.
Superstar players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, earlier Monday tweeted, “LET US PLAY,” with the tag #StandUnited. Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash tweeted: “You know we want to play & you understand the propaganda/misinformation from the owners.”
Stern said season-ticket holders can collect refunds plus interest for the canceled games.
Fisher plans to meet with players Thursday in Los Angeles.
Owners locked out the players July 1 when the previous labor contract expired. Owners claim the league lost $300 million last season, with 22 of 30 teams losing money, and they want the players to accept a significant rollback in pay.
Fisher told reporters the sides are at an impasse over how to divide basketball-related income (BRI). Players earned 57% of BRI (about $2.15 billion) last season, but Fisher said owners are effectively asking players to accept 47%. Players have offered to accept 53%.
Owners also want a harder salary cap, saying it will help competitive equity. Previously, teams that exceeded the cap paid a luxury tax of $1 for each dollar they were over the cap, a system that allowed deep-pocketed teams such as the Lakers and NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to cruise by that limit while chasing an NBA title. Owners now hope to triple that luxury tax, a move players argue will reduce guaranteed money.
No more negotiating sessions are scheduled.
Meanwhile, the players and the NBA are awaiting a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board on their competing labor claims.
The union could also decertify, like NFL players did, and file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA to possibly accelerate a settlement.
Pugmire reported from Los Angeles.
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