Hey NBA: Let Bill Clinton Come Up With a Plan

Published: October 5, 2011

Have you ever wondered how the two sides in the NBA Labor Dispute can possibly be so adamantly opposed to anywhere near the middle? Considering they are obviously going to end up pretty much right next to there, it’s getting a little silly to let billions of dollars slip through the cracks this year and every year down the line (because this will impact future revenue negatively) just to wind up getting 51 instead of 50 percent. That’s why the NBA needs to get Bill Clinton involved, and fast.

Here’s a novel idea– He can represent the interest of people who want to watch basketball this season.

Time is running out to save the season, and this may just be the only real chance the two sides have of reaching an agreement before regular season games officially start being cancelled.

If you think winning a tiny battle in these negotiations is worth losing an entire season, you’re wrong. Sorry to inform you of that, Players/Owners. All that happens when a season is lost is that both sides now need to get an even bigger piece of the future pie in order to “win” financially. That’s why so many people think the owners are going to eventually prevail in this battle, possibly increasingly so as it goes on. They have more money and can take the hit short term. They were losing *300 million a year even before this season, so the idea of losing a few hundred million more, while not smile worthy, is probably not making them dry heave into the wee hours of the night, either.

It’s all about the long term for them, whereas for the players it’s short term. Their average career length is only five seasons. They players aren’t getting paid anywhere near their expected NBA salaries overseas. They are running into problems getting insurance. They are playing in leagues far far from the comforts and luxuries that their respective NBA teams provide. There will be problems eventually. When they occur, the owners are banking that a lot of players will come crawling home, begging for someone to get them a deal with an NBA team.

Hard to see it playing any other way, but some do. I won’t argue that side today, because even if the owners win after losing a season, they still lose in the long term. Their brand will be tarnished for countless years to come, and revenue will take a hit.

In conclusion, everyone loses if the season is lost.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can get the Owners and Players Association to agree in principle to a new CBA within a matter of days.

The main problem with negotiating the way the two sides are currently going about it is that when one gives up an inch in an effort to reach the center, the other side can just stay where they are, leaving the center closer to them. We saw it happen when the players agreed to lower their take of BRI substantially, and the owners responding by moving only 1 percent up, and also in the beginning of negotiations when owners conceded that players would have the right to negotiate for fully guaranteed contracts. The Players responded to that by saying thanks. That’s it. The lockout began shortly after.

That’s why you just let Bill Clinton propose the compromise this time around. Just about everyone knows Bill Clinton is a reasonable guy who has led negotiations with just about anyone worth negotiating with. You can agree or disagree with his politics, but the guy is more than likely going to find some middle ground, especially between two sides that aren’t literally bombing each other.

The Owners and Players Union can simply tell Slick Willy to put on this thinking cap and come up with a good plan that is agreeable and beneficial to both sides (anything fast is beneficial, so his work is cut out for him to some degree). After he and his team (yes, he gets a team) are done coming up with something that they think will be acceptable, you let Bill himself sell it to both sides separately.

Have the two sides in conference rooms at hotels across the street and have him present it to one side, walk across the street, present it to the other, and then after a few hours of going through it as individual groups, you let the sides vote on it in principle. The details can be haggled over the always blood-thirsty lawyers. (cheap shot at my girlfriend)

If you wind up with a yes from both sides, then the lockout is essentially over.

If you get two no’s, you have obviously found the middle. That makes negotiating easier, eh?

If you get a yes and a no, then something else happens. Hopefully Bill Clinton doesn’t let it get to that point. I trust he won’t.


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