x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

NBA learning from the NFL's labour quagmire

NBA commissioner David Stern says his league and its owners have learned from watching the NFL's labour issues that it is better to get things hammered out than to drag on.

NBA owners have their game face on, very serious and all, incredulous the players cannot see the dire straits in which the league wallows. The players' union representatives mostly roll their eyes and ask when owners are going to get serious about a new collective bargaining agreement.

Surprise - it might be sooner than they think. Like right now.

Both sides have been digging in for months, expecting the absolute worst - the start of next season being postponed or even cancelled.

Only guess what may have just got the owners' attention?

The NFL trying to self-destruct.

NFL owners find themselves in a growing disaster of their own making. Their negotiations with the players have fallen apart, the union has decertified and the entire quagmire is now in the courts.

David Stern, the NBA commissioner, has been taking notes. When asked what lessons he has learnt from the NFL lockout, Stern said: "What I have learnt is you should make a deal. You get the courts involved, you get the union involved. The players argue with each other. It's a terrible mess. We've got to try the best we can to avoid that … I would guess we're going to go into very intense meetings and negotiations now.''

This year's projected NBA revenue is US$4 billion (Dh14.7bn), which would top last year's record $3.6bn. The owners have asked for a 40 per cent concession on player salaries. I'm thinking the time has come for a more reasonable request. Thanks to the NFL, Stern apparently does too.