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Steinberg: NBA is back, but several mistakes were made

Steinberg Says

November 30, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

2. They committed a form of sports suicide. Fans had high school, collegiate and professional football and the NHL and college basketball to keep them occupied. Cancelling of games means irreplaceable revenue is lost. The players lost an estimated $82 million with each two weeks of missed games. Owners lost revenue. The impact spreads to dozens of other employees and businesses that depend on the playing and broadcast of games. It will take 30 days to have a reasonable training camp and exhibition games as the league ramps up to launch on Christmas Day, which just so happens to be the most profitable day of the regular season.

3. The parties delayed talking substantively until way too close to training camp. In the NFL negotiations, the players decertified and went to court in March and April and they cut it close. But they knew that in the NFL, no one gets serious about business until a deadline exists, and they responded to the deadline. In NBA and NFL rookie negotiations I would tell owners: "Let's pick a date several weeks prior to the opening of training camp and work against that deadline. Let's pretend that the negotiations have gotten acrimonious, the coach and owner are ready to say 'this player will be of no use this year if he doesn't sign,' fans are angry, media coverage is harmful, and the player is ready to say 'I never want to play for this team, I'll wait until the next draft,' what would be your position then?" They needed to narrow the gaps and anticipate a worst-case scenario much earlier. And, they should have been in non-stop mediation in the summer.

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4. The parties started publicly arguing that only their position was right. David Stern is much more antagonistic and anxious to paint the union leadership as betraying the best interests of their players than he needs to be. I listened to an interview he did last week that was a declaration of war, painting the union into a corner. The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew that his constituency was owners, but said little publicly and never personalized the process. Individual players have spoken out, to which the public has praised some and admonished others.

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