Why The Players Need To STFU

As I wrote in my last post, any fan who doesn’t live in places like Los Angeles or Miami is not likely to side with the players very much because if the players got their way it would be much harder for smaller market teams to compete. This doesn’t seem to occur to many of the players who have taken to Twitter to vent their frustrations. A bigger problem, though, is that the players just don’t seem to understand that many of their complaints don’t make sense to the average fan either because it’s not actually based in reality or because it doesn’t exactly jibe with an economy where so many people are struggling.

Nazr Mohammed has been one of the most vocal in the Twitterverse with his complaints, but he’s certainly not alone. Below, are a few of the most ridiculous complaints and why they simply need to shut up about them.

OWNERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO RESTRICT THE MOVEMENT OF PLAYERS

This is one of their biggest complaints, and it’s actually been discussed in different terms. One of the most ridiculous analogies players have come up with is asking whether it would be fair to be an accountant and being told he has to work in a completely different city and that he can’t choose what city he works in.

This doesn’t make sense on so many different levels I’m not sure where to start.

First off, let me tell you about a very good friend of mine, who IS an accountant and worked for a company that ignored his advice on a financial matter, and then eventually had to lay off several people, including him, because it came back and bit them in the ass, which he warned them it would. For six months he looked for a job that would pay him enough and eventually had to move from Vancouver, where he and his wife had lived for the past 17 years, to Edmonton in order to find one. And he’s certainly not the first person who has had to move to a different city for a job. It was a difficult decision for him, but one that probably would have been MUCH easier if the salary he was being offered in Edmonton was anywhere near what and average NBA player makes.

Secondly, their complaint that it’s not fair to force players to work in certain cities doesn’t jibe with reality. No one is actually FORCING them to sign a multimillion dollar contract and play in the NBA. That just happens to be where the cream of their profession goes so if they want to make NBA money and play with the best, they have to give certain things up. How is this different from he actor who, if he wants to make the big money and work on the big projects, having to move to L.A. or New York? Or the stock broker having to move to a city with an actual stock exchange to make the big bucks.

Hell, if I wanted to work for an NBA team myself, I would have to a) find and NBA team that will hire me and b) move to a different city to work for them. Should I be whining that I can’t work for an NBA team wherever I want?

NBA players get paid an exorbitant amount of money to play a sport for a living. The reasons they get paid so much is because their careers aren’t very long and because they are very good at what they do. Like any profession, you give up certain things in order to make more than everyone else. The average NBA player makes more money in a few years than a lot of people make in a lifetime. For those years where they are making this money, they are required to play by certain rules. Calling it tantamount to slavery is an insult not only to history, but to anyone with a brain.

The biggest problem with this complain, though, is that players seemed to have confused “incentive” with “restriction”. The NBA is actually not attempting to restrict player movement. They are simply giving players more financial incentive to stay with their original team. That’s not restrictive. And to complain that it is makes it appear you don’t have a basic understanding of either term. No one is preventing Chris Paul from signing ANYWHERE he want to in the NBA. What they are doing is saying that if Paul wants to make as much as he can, like the actor who wants to make top dollar, he has to give up certain things in order to do it. Dictating where you go is one of those things.

IT’S THE OWNERS FAULT THEY AREN’T MAKING MONEY, SO WHY MAKE THE PLAYERS PAY FOR IT?

In some ways the players are right. The fault lies somewhat with the owners for the financial straits the team is currently in. Of course, that doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. There are several reasons why the league is in the financial straits it’s in. One of which is the recently expired CBA. If the last CBA had been a little more owner friendly, then the owners wouldn’t be taking such a hard line this time.

And what the players don’t seem to understand is the position the owners are in. If they don’t win, then they lose fans and money. And in order to win, you need to pay for the players. The hard line owners are also NOT generally the ones who brought the NBA to where it is financially, with so many teams going way over the cap. It’s the rich teams that have done that. And they’ve basically screwed the rest of the owners in order to do it. So yes, the owners are at fault, but if Indiana wants to compete with New York, you either have to give Indiana the money that New York has, which is impossible, or make it more difficult for New York to spend the money that Indiana doesn’t have.

A quote that recently has come back to haunt Michael Jordan is when he told former Washington Wizards owner, Abe Pollin, that if he can’t make money with the team, then he should sell it. Players obviously are now jumping on Jordan for being hypocritical when it doesn’t seem to have dawned on them that maybe he was simply wrong when he initially said that and with him being on the other side of the issue, now, he simply has a better understanding.

While it’s certainly easier for ignorant players (or former players) to condemn Jordan, what they should be doing is realizing that maybe he just knows more than they do, now. It’s like condemning a war veteran for protesting a war as being hypocritical. Maybe being on both sides gives one a bit more of an understanding.

Jordan has come to realize, obviously, that he simply can’t compete financially with the big market teams. Sure, managing your team better would be a good start, but levelling the playing field is needed, as well.

THE OWNERS ARE NOT NEGOTIATING IN GOOD FAITH

Well, first of all, I see both sides trying to get desperately what they want and using whatever leverage they can. The owners are the only ones at the table that can actually LOSE MONEY based on the negotiations so it’s understandable that they are doing everything in their power to try and prevent that. On the other hand, no matter what the players agree to, most of them will be set for life after only a few years of playing (as long as they don’t squander that money, which is a different issue, though related one, altogether).

And while there are some militant owners who, no doubt, are making things difficult for the players, the players association aren’t helping. Take some of the rumours that have come out, presumably from players who have simply not been informed by their own representatives:

“The agreement contains a clause that allows any NBA team to send a player to the NDBL AND only pay him the pro-rated NDBL $75,000 while there”

Now, if that were actually true, I can see why players would object. If you sign a guy to a bad deal, you just send him to the NBDL and you don’t have to pay it. The problem is, it’s apparently not true. There is no mention whatsoever of the NDBL in the latest proposal from the league.

“The NBA is trying to take away Bird -rights”

The clause made famous by Larry Bird, which allows a team to go over the cap in order to re-sign it’s own player is also not mentioned in the latest proposal, or in any of them, as far as I know.

The problem is that the union is not only not communicating very well with it’s own members, but allowing them (and their agents) to spread completely fictitious rumours in order to, presumably, try and get players to vote against the proposal. And if you have to lie to players to get them to vote no, I don’t understand how that’s negotiating in good faith.

9 thoughts on “Why The Players Need To STFU

  1. I wouldn’t mind seeing a “Super League”. I don’t even mind seeing a 10 (or less) team “Premiere” league of teams that can afford to pay for players, arenas, etc. and a second tier division of teams that aspire to compete but for whatever reason (cheap owners, etc.) don’t want to spend the money.
    I don’t care about league parity. As much as I dislike Miami (mainly because I am no enamored of Wade, Bosh and Lebitch), a collection of All-Star players battling other All-Star calibre players on a nightly basis sounds exciting.

    • DRStar,

      A super league would certainly be interesting, but problematic. How do you pay for them with only ten teams? And without a team in your own city, how loyal are you going to be to the league?

      And if it goes to a tiered system, how much are fans going to want to watch the second division when all the talent is in the premiere division? It would basically be a farm system for the premiere division, and I do’t see that being profitable. So then you’ve got the premiere league paying for the second tier league. I don’t see how that would work.

  2. That’s actually been a question I’ve wondered. Why doesn’t it exist.

    Now do you mean that a league consisting of only teams from cities/owners that can afford to pay for the best players/teams can’t exist because the league wouldn’t be able to afford to operate?

    Would opening up to sponsorship on jerseys work? What about a shortened schedule?

    As for fans not watching, well, it could be argued that teams who aren’t doing well, in cities who can’t really afford teams, aren’t really interested in their “home” teams anyways, while teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Heat (presently), Bulls, seem to have a following of fans from around the country, and even worldwide.

    It could be argued that a lot of casual fans follow the players and not the teams.

    I don’t pretend to know it all, but this is a great exercise in something other than just talking about the CBA or demise of the season :)

    • I don’t think a league of ten teams is big enough to afford so many of the elite players. Playing fewer games would simply reduce the amount of income the league could get, so that’s obviously out. And I hate the idea of sponsorship. To me, naming arenas after corporations is bad enough.

      Most teams do get decent attendance. Besides, it is not only the teams with low attendance that have financial problems. The main expense for these teams are salaries. A team like the Lakers have a payroll of $91 million, and that’s with only two All-Stars on the roster. Can you imagine how much teams would be paying if they added a few more? No team would have a salary of less than $100 million, and how many teams can afford that? Basically, you’d have a two team league with New York and Los Angeles.

      In actual fact, the more the talent is spread out, the easier it is to be able to actually pay all that talent. Unfortunately the players don’t seem to understand that.

      And those teams that get international fan interest do so because they have won Championships. The teams that the casual fan gets to know are the one’s that are playing in June, when the average person actually tunes in. Level the playing field and more teams will become popular because more teams will be able to contend.

  3. Tim:

    In the NHL lockout, I’ve sided with the Owners. But honest to God i’l never, ever do that error again.

    I’ve found that owners, if they do turn more profit, will simply turn into garbage (trying to make the Phoenix Coyotes live by losing 40M$ per year).

    Poor team owners will NOT use that newfound leverage, instead they’l keep the same distance, and pay their players less.

    And now with a cap, usually comes a floor. Some teams will keep players off the injured reserve, just so that their salary counts, and preventing them for paying other guys.

    Not only that, but who the hell offers the contracts in this league? The damn Owners. Tell me those bunch of grown billionaires can’t even control themselves to the point where they need a hard rule?

    In the end, the floor went up so high it was higher than the original cap, and now the average team spends 5M+ money than they used to in the old NHL.

    Owners wanna make you think it’l advantage you, but they’l fuck it up themselves soon enough.

    The only measure I think is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED. Is a base contract for rookies that’s low, and a RFA up until 6 years. There teams can build and have a chance, a window to make it.

    • I will say right off the bat that I don’t know anything about hockey (despite being a bored and bred Canadian). And simply levelling the playing field is certainly not going to make all the owners try and win. Donald Sterling pretty much proves that point. And I don’t think anyone thinks that a CBA will solve all the problems, but what I want is simply to level the playing field, stop the rich teams from simply being able to outspend everyone else and to prevent players from just banding together and creating superteams in the major markets. Those are not things the players care about in the least, which means I simply can’t side with them at all.

  4. Tim W: I understand.

    In short my comment was that while the players are selfish, so are the other guys. Whoever wins we won’t. (at least not directly).

    What I’d favor in the NBA’s case is simply a 6 year RFA. Rookies all get a base contract which can’t exceed a maximum and is always 3 years long (But the performance bonuses (not signing) incite the players to play better and get fully payed))

    Then after those 3 years, the players get leverage as they can sign somewhere else, but at a price (In the NHL there’s a scale with picks accordingly). Teams who own the player also have the option of matching the offer, which the player cannot refuse.

    So the players can get as much money, they only have to blame theirselves if they don’t. And ultimately if they chose to go stray another path the team who had him will get big time compensation .

    • I’ve got to say I’m completely against the 3 year rookie contracts. The NBA tried that and the problem was that teams had to make a decision whether or not to paying guys before they really knew how they were going to turn out. And rookies were getting big paydays and never fulfilling their potential. I think the way it is right now with rookies works well. FOr lottery picks, the first three years are guaranteed, but after that it’s up to the team. I like that because it gives the team time to evaluate a player, but if they’re really not developing, then it’s not going to hurt them much because it’s only a three year commitment. And for rookies they do have that restricted free agency after 4 years if they don’t sign an extension, so the player can test the waters, but the team can match if they want.

      As for the 6 year RFA, do you mean that contracts would be 6 years? I like a max 5 year contract, personally, because it lessens the chance a player who fails to live up to his contract, for one reason or another, will hamstring the team for to long.

      And it’s not as if I think the owners are behaving well. I think both sides are being selfish. I just think the more the players get the more it will hurt the fans of teams outside of the major markets.

  5. Tim:

    It’s 3 years contract, but only 1M$ is guaranteed MAX. All of the other are performance bonuses (And not signing) so no one gets a big pay day without results.

    6 year RFA, means they’re restricted until they play 6 years and their contract ends.

    So teams can sign him to 5 years, and then they get leverage to keep him when that contract is over because they’l still get compensation.

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