Sports Outside the Beltway

The eternal optimist- NBA Commissioner upbeat about labor deal

Is David Stern taking the same ‘don’t worry be happy’ pills that LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens seems to be taking also?

David Stern calls himself an optimist and considers his owners and players realists.

Since when has labor and management in any industry both been realists at the same time?

So despite the economic turmoil, the NBA commissioner remains confident the two sides will work together this summer during talks for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Nothing will get done till the last moment aka a lockout or player strike if at all. Both sides won’t budge even when the damage a stoppage would cause was detrimental to the sport. MLB went without a World Series in 1994 and the NHL a whole hockey season. Both sides rather do themselves harm than give even the slightest.

The central issue, according to Stern, will be division of revenue — the players now get 57 percent.

“As I watch other industries around us, one thing is common. Everyone has to make sort of a contribution to business and the like,” Stern said Monday. “Our fans are increasingly hard-pressed. We’re making certain concessions that will actually decrease revenue in some ways.

“The point that I take from all this is that we are all in this together and the players are also in it as we are, so I’m still maintaining an optimistic posture because I know that our players believe that. I know our owners believe it and I know our fans are looking for us to step up together to do what has to be done.”

Stern spoke during his annual playoffs conference call, when he said competitive postseason races, plus strong TV ratings and attendance figures have made this a good season for the league.

Future seasons could be a bit gloomier — or perhaps wiped out entirely.

And NBA fans won’t sympathize with either side. Seeing everyone as greedy millionaires who milk fans for every penny. Why go to a sporting event when you get hit for outrageous charges for everything from parking to a soft drink in addition to paying for a seat? I thought about watching my first NHL game in person a little while back. That notion was quickly squashed when I discovered I would pay approximately $100 for a non nosebleed seat. Why go to the Bank Atlantic arena when I can watch a game at home?

Stern said those talks will pick up after the NBA Finals in June. The owners will put together a negotiating committee after their meetings in New York this week and the players will soon do the same.

My prediction- There will be a strike or a lockout sometime in the next fifteen months. As I watch little basketball, I won’t be missing anything.

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