Owners Shut It Down

July 01, 2011

As union members look on, NBPA President, Derek Fisher affirms the players' unity in the face of the NBA owners' unreasonable demands.

NBA owners, looking to make Draconian cuts to players’ salaries and benefits, today locked out the league’s 450 players after their collective bargaining agreement expired at 12:01 a.m.

The owners last shut down the league 13 years ago.

“While today's decision by the owners to lock out the players is unfortunate, our players will continue to stay focused on a fair outcome,” said Derek Fisher, President of the NBA Players Association (NBPA). “We will continue to negotiate and work towards a resolution that will bring the fans the game they love so much."

Players and owners met earlier today to engage once again in negotiations and work towards a new collective bargaining agreement. However, with owners unwilling to budge throughout the 18 months of talks, little progress was made.

The players had agreed to reduce their salaries by half a billion dollars over five years, but their offer was rejected by the owners, who called it “modest.” The owners’ proposal would result in a transfer of over $8 billion dollars from the players to the owners when compared to the current system.

“My level of disappointment is for our fans and people who follow our game. Although they’re not going to miss any games at this point, they just don’t like the prospect of a lockout. We don’t like it either. But the owners feel like it is the best way for them to get what they want. We don’t agree. We’re still going to continue to negotiate in the midst of this lockout," added Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBPA.

Throughout the bargaining process, the owners failed to reasonably compromise or significantly soften their extreme position, making it difficult for the players to work with them to reach a new agreement. The owners’ steadfast insistence on producing millions of dollars in profits for all 30 teams has made it difficult for the parties to bridge the large economic gap.

The NBA last year grossed the highest revenue number in its history, with record increases in television ratings, attendance and merchandise sales. Despite their insistence that payroll disparities must be addressed by the players, the owners thus far have not put forth any details of an enhanced revenue sharing plan.

This is the NBA’s first lockout since the 1998-99 season. That lockout lasted 204 days, caused the cancellation of 464 games, and reduced the season to just 50 games in length. In an effort to try to avoid the cancellation of the upcoming season, the NBPA is committed to continue negotiations until a fair deal can be reached for both sides.