Finals Might Be The Last NBA Action For Some Time
JACKI LYDEN, Host:
The NBA season ended this week with a Texas-size celebration for the new champions.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHANTING)
LYDEN: NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN: At the Dallas parade, Bryan Griffin spoke for many, many NBA fans.
GOLDMAN: I don't want to just have to watch baseball all year and hockey, 'cause it's going to be terrible.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
GOLDMAN: I'm extremely worried about the lockout.
GOLDMAN: Here's NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver at the recent finals, speaking on a sound system that seems to support the league's claim of poverty.
GOLDMAN: Costs have risen much faster than revenues over the course of this deal.
GOLDMAN: This deal - the labor contract that's been in place since 2005 needs an overhaul, says Silver and his boss, NBA Commissioner David Stern. The new contract - this is still the league talking - should be set up so the money teams have been losing can be reclaimed by cutting player salaries. Eight hundred million dollars a year is the target mentioned publicly; privately, the league says it can be less.
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GOLDMAN: Screeching tires, as in hold on there. This is the union talking now. Actually, this is:
GOLDMAN: The association is very much against any kind of a hard cap.
GOLDMAN: Larry Katz is one of the lawyers representing the players' association in contract talks. The NBA has enjoyed a soft salary cap, meaning teams can exceed it in certain circumstances, without penalty. Not only does the union not want the soft cap messed with, the players - not surprisingly - have a beef with the league wanting to balance its books by cutting player payroll. Larry Katz:
GOLDMAN: The players believe that when the owners of particular teams are losing money, that's due to bad management or aggressive bidding for player contracts. To give back large sums of money to make up for those kind of management decisions is a wrong decision.
GOLDMAN: NBA writer Henry Abbott - he writes the True Hoop blog for ESPN.com - has hacked his way through the he-said/he-said of NBA labor for the better part of a year. There's concern a hard salary cap will change the way the league looks by forcing teams to jettison players. Abbott doesn't think that'll happen.
GOLDMAN: The players just are so adamant on that point. So, I think we'll end up with a world where teams can have some wiggle room to keep their best players together.
GOLDMAN: Also, while owners claim revenues have been outpaced by costs, Abbott says league revenues that pay for player salaries have gone up.
GOLDMAN: Which is an amazing endorsement of the league and its players, and the popularity of the product.
GOLDMAN: Tom Goldman, NPR News.
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