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Old 08-01-2011, 08:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation NBPA in position to go on offensive at labor meeting

Despite the lack of negotiating sessions with the league, the National Basketball Players Association has had a good last couple of weeks. Now, this is collective bargaining, and things can change, rapidly. But in the important court of public opinion, the players' union has amassed some arrows to use in its quiver down the road.

First, the end of the NFL lockout puts all of the labor attention on basketball. The issues are vastly different between the two sports, but all sports fans saw the lasting image of Colts center Jeff Saturday hugging the grieving owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft, who had juggled negotiating sessions with the NFL Players Association with vigils for his dying wife, Myra. Player after player gave Robert Kraft the lion's share of the credit for figuring out a solution to the seemingly intractable issues the NFL owners had with their players' union. It was powerful stuff. Yes, everyone in the NFL makes money. But the NFL's owners are just as desirous of making more as their NBA brethren, yet they figured out how to make a deal. That can only embolden NBA owners -- and there are many -- who want to play next season.

Second, as NBA.com's Steve Aschburner reported two weeks ago would happen, the final audit of the 2010-11 season confirmed that the players will be refunded their full eight percent of escrow that they gave the owners as mandated by the old Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players have put money in an escrow account every year since 1999 as insurance for the owners in case the players' share of Basketball Related Income exceeds its annual limit of 57 percent. And not only will the players be getting that $160 million back from the owners, the owners owe the players an additional $26 million because the players' take of BRI last season was actually less than 57 percent of total revenues. League revenues grew as a whole by 4.8 percent, according to the audit.

The league will certainly argue that the giveback is an outlier; it has never happened before in the 12 years of the arrangement, and at any rate, teams had to spend so much more -- marketing, advertising and the like -- to create that additional revenue that they still, in the main, lost more than they brought in. But the disclosure gives the union a PR claim that, rightly or wrongly, could resonate with fans -- our salaries weren't the problem last season. So why does the system need a dramatic overhaul?
NBPA in position to go on offensive at labor meeting | NBA.com
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