NBA Locks Out Players Over Contract Dispute

The NBA's labor deal has expired, and the basketball league has locked out its players. It's the second pro sports league shut down by labor strife. The other is the NFL.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And also closed for business for now, the National Basketball Association. The NBA locked out its players last night because the two sides can't agree on a new labor contract. It's the league's first work stoppage in 13 years.

NPR's Tom Goldman has more.

TOM GOLDMAN: The NBA lockout is starting under a cloud of deep pessimism. Heres why. Yes, NBA owners want to stop the bleeding nearly three quarters of the teams lost money this year, they say a total of more than $300 million. But also, they want to change the structure of how players are paid. By significantly cutting the percentage of league revenues that goes to players currently 57 per cent and by locking in a mechanism to keep the salaries down. A hard cap on salaries is non-negotiable, say the players. They dont believe they should bear the brunt of the owners losses, when the owners, they say, have made bad business decisions. So, as commissioner David Stern said yesterday, theres a huge philosophical divide.

A year ago today, the most dramatic free agency period in NBA history began culminating with LeBron James infamous decision to take his talents to South Beach. Today, the lockout means no free agency, no contact between players and their teams, no NBA summer league. And fans will have to be content with memories of last season, with its increased TV ratings and ticket sales - a great year, Stern agreed, but, he said, not a profitable one.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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