Hornets Beat: Schnapps Edition

Published: August 8, 2011

I’m still not back in the good old US of A, and honestly my head has been pounding for days due to the relentless abuse that my shnapps-loving Swedish family has inflicted on my liver. As a result of that and ESPN’s Hornets themed 5-on-5 featuring Ryan, this edition of Hornets Beat is going to be a bullet filled solo affair which pertains almost entirely to the lockout. Next week we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.

I love schnapps. Schnappy, schnapps, schnapps. Here it goes down, down into my belly...

  • Full disclosure: My brain is working about about seven percent of it’s normal functioning capacity, so be prepared for at least something that probably won’t make sense even to me when I get back across the pond.
  • Season ticket holders pay between hundreds and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to watch fully grown men play a game, and the NBA is seemingly likely to miss regular season games for the second time since I hit puberty roughly a dozen years ago. Way to go, guys! I’m really impressed by your ability to negotiate and compromise. I assume that whoever is involved in these negotiations had a hand in the recent US debt ceiling debacle as well.

  • Perhaps as players realize that the overwhelming majority of guys slated to make 1-10 million a year in the NBA next year are not able to secure contracts that pay even 20% of that by playing in Europe or anywhere else (while paying out of pocket for insurance as well), they will come to their senses and see that they have it pretty good in the states. For example, just having guaranteed multi-year contracts is a benefit that most teams around the world don’t offer, and even if they do, the teams are notorious for not following through on the guarantees if it’s in their best financial interest not to. Considering how many guys like Eddy Curry have “played” in the past decade, I think that alone is a huge concession by the owners.
  • That leads into another point–Just because the players were the clear winners in the last CBA shouldn’t mean that this next one is going to be the same way, or that negotiations should begin where the last CBA left off. The players seem to have that idea in their heads, and I’m about 90% sure that they think that way because guys like Billy Hunter have told them that. They seem to think that if they hold a hard line the owners will cave to another bad deal. I can’t really see that happening this time around.
  • The tiny concessions the Players Association have offered so far still leaves the CBA overwhelmingly favoring the players financially. The fact that players received well over 50% of basketball related revenues during the final years of the last CBA, and have offered a deal to the owners where they will again, strikes me as absurd since they comprise substantially less than 10% of total NBA personnel, they take no financial risk, and the NBA has provided them an avenue that winds up with them making nine figures more annually in the form of individual endorsements. There are also countless people who are slightly less skilled willing to do their jobs for a fraction of the price. The owners just aren’t going to agree to a horrible deal again, and the longer Billy Hunter pretends that it’s possible that they will, the longer this unnecessary lockout will persist.
  • Last year the players’ net income from contracts alone was roughly two billion dollars. The owners net loss was first estimated at 300 million. That last figure was debated by the players, and then revised to some extent, but the reality is that players make a ton of money with an investment of time and energy, and lots of owners lost money with an investment of time, energy, and huge amounts of capital that could have been working for them elsewhere.
  • Make no mistake about it– I am on the side of the owners. For one thing, what many of them want is right in line with what I’m hoping for. Sign me up for a hard cap and more incentive for superstar players to re-sign with their current teams. Don’t even let sign-and-trades happen for max contract ballers unless their salary is reduced to the level that it would have been had they not re-signed with their current team. If Chris Paul wants to leave us after the tens of millions of dollars that we have paid him to play basketball, then make him pay for it financially. He can’t have his Sazerac and drink it elsewhere.
  • My allegiance is entirely 100% to the New Orleans Hornets brand, not the players on the team. If Chris Paul and David West both take off either this year or next, they will no longer be players that I follow. I won’t despise them or anything since it’s understandable that guys would want a change of scenery, and Chris Paul will likely still be the best point guard in the league, but I’m not going to change my allegiance because a player demands to be traded or refuses to re-sign. If a player is not wearing creole blue, white, gold, green, or purple, then they are my sworn enemy. Right now what the players want is directly contrary to what small market teams want, and that means that I can’t support the players at all in these negotiations.
  • I will not shed a tear because a team of NBA players making salaries that often exceed the rest of the personnel in the organization combined (which have at the bare minimum 10 times as many people) will be forced to take a pay cut.
  • The fact that non-millionaires with normal jobs will suffer most from this is a big issue that isn’t talked about enough. Team employees, beer vendors, concession sales staff, bar and restaurant employees near arenas, television staffs, and full-time NBA writers, photographers, and videographers really stand to have their lives disrupted and their futures threatened. With the economy not exactly kicking ass, it’s a safe assumption that many of them can’t afford a year (or more?) without their NBA related job.
  • The longer this lockout goes on, the more players and owners stand to lose. The NBA and basketball in general have been on the upswing lately both in the US and across the globe. TV ratings for the finals were way up (with New Orleans contributing some of the best local numbers of any NBA city). I can’t think of a better way to stop that momentum than a prolonged lockout. The financial implications of a long work stoppage would likely be measured in billions, not millions. Just ask the NHL, who officially slipped to second tier sport status after a similar disagreement between players and owners cost them an entire season, how they feel about the PR hit they took.
  • On the player side of things, guys like James Posey stand to be among the biggest losers in the event of a missed season. He’s owed nearly seven million dollars this year (which he will never see if the season is missed). That’s likely more money than he will make playing for the rest of his career. When I get a few minutes back in the states I’m going to take a look through the league roster to see who else is in a similar situation, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find that there are dozens of players who stand to lose a literal fortune that they may never see again. On top of that, you have to wonder how long the rookies going to sit around twiddling their thumbs making nothing when they could be millionaires? How long are the sophomores going to be able to live the good life that they are now accustomed to without a salary? You can bet that guys like that will be pressuring the Players Association to cut a deal that doesn’t sacrifice the season. For less skilled players on the second year of a two year rookie contract or overpaid veterans at the tail end of their careers and their contracts, not doing so might risk their last NBA paycheck ever.
  • In the end I expect the players to cave. Hopefully for them (and everyone) they do it soon, when they still have unity and leverage, as opposed to later when they will almost certainly have some dissension within their ranks. Think of it this way– if the league offered the players half of what they made last year, that’s the best deal they can get in the entire world… by far.
  • As a fan I do realize that we pay to watch the players perform and not to watch the owners own, but as a businessman I believe that anyone (including small market owners) who invests over 300 million dollars into a franchise should be able to field a competitive team without bleeding money. Right now that just isn’t the case for a lot of franchises, and it causes millions of fans grief. The Hornets have been playing against a stacked deck for years, and it would be really nice if we could get back into a fair game.

Disagree with me a little bit or entirely? Don’t be shy. I can take it.


  1. Pingback: Is contraction a viable option? – ChicagoNow | Sexy Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.