AirTalk for October 5, 2011

Game off? NBA, players at a standoff over six-point spread

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Derek Fisher, president of the National Basketball Players Association speaks at a press conference after NBA labor negotiations at The Westin Times Square on Oct. 4, 2011, in New York City.

Three months ingot the NBA lockout and after nearly a week of “exhausting” negotiations, the league and its players are still far from reaching an agreement. NBA officials are offering 47 percent of the NBA’s $4 billion annual revenue; players want 53 percent.

Under the previous contract, which expired in July, players were getting 57 percent. Union president and Lakers point guard Derek Fisher says players are willing to take a slight cut – but the NBA wants them to cut more. Officials say they’re losing $300 million a year on top of the decrease in individual team earnings.

On this morning's show, ESPN Sports Center reporter Shelley Smith charged that “players believe owners are lying about losing money,” adding that owners have refused to verify their claims of losses with solid financial reports.

Smith said trust between players and owners has collapsed. “It’s all about who you’re going to believe. Players aren’t budging and the owners aren’t budging,” she said.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has already canceled the entire preseason and this week warned that the first couple weeks of the season could be benched as well if an agreement isn’t reached by Monday.

he financial fallout won’t only affect the players – who stand to lose $350 million for each month they’re locked out – but would mean the loss of lucrative TV contracts with Disney and Time Warner. The nearly $1 billion per year the league receives for broadcast rights would either have to be refunded, or those contracts would have to be extended.

Not only will media giants lose millions in advertising revenues, but small business owners and stadium employees will be heavily impacted. “Ushers, concessions," she said. "People depend on these games to pay their rent,” will lose out.

So far, neither side seems ready to back down.

“What really hurts is that the public is going to stop caring,” said Smith. Major League Baseball, she pointed out, is still suffering the aftermath of their own lockouts a few years ago.

WEIGH IN:

Do you think the players should stick to their guns? Which team are you backing in this playoff? How do you feel about being sidelined while they work out their differences?

Guest:

Shelley Smith, Reporter for ESPN Sports Center


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