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NBA season looking more like a lost cause

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 11/23/2011, 2:23 p.m.

The National Basketball Association notified its teams over a week ago that it had officially canceled games through December 15, which means 26 percent of the 2011-2012 season has been erased with no end to the labor strife in sight.

But the real news came a few hours later.

The player association decertified and then filed class-action antitrust lawsuits against the league.

The union was represented in Federal court by the leading lawyer David Boies, who represented the National Football League Player's Association during their lockout earlier this year. Boeies said that by refusing to let players work, the NBA lockout violates antitrust laws. Boies also said that NBA Commissioner David Stern made a mistake trying to get the players to accept the owners' "final offer" because it meant that the negotiating process was over.

During an interview on ESPN earlier this month, Stern said "The union decided in its infinite wisdom that the proposal would not be presented to membership [for a vote]." Stern also said that the players and the league were about to go into a "nuclear winter."

"If I were a player, I would be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter (The executive director of the NBA players union) just did," Stern told ESPN.

The big source of the player/owner divide is basketball-related income (BRI), which is the money that franchises get from things like television deals, sponsorships, ticket sales, and a percentage of in-arena concessions. Players got 57 percent of BRI in salaries under a union proposed new deal, the players were willing to reduce their share to 53 percent a $160 million cut for the players, but that was not a large cut for Stern.

Meanwhile, the players have found a way to keep busy.

On Dec. 12, NBA stars like Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic will play in the "Obama Classic Basketball Game" in Washington, D.C. Despite no announcement of a particular venue, the game will be a fundraiser for the Democratic Party and Obama's reelection campaign (Obama Victory Fund). Tickets will start at $200 for general admission, $500 for lower deck and $5,000 for courtside seats.