The worst fears of all fans of the NBA will come to pass at 12:01 am Friday morning according to a report from “ESPN.com” as negotiations have broken down between NBA Team Owners and the NBA Players Association on a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Commissioner David Stern has announced that Team Owners will declare a lockout starting one minute after midnight Eastern Daylight time.
Thursday Stern said although the Association had a very successful season, too many teams are still losing money under the present system. The Commissioner said “We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game. It just wasn’t a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn’t one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in. The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete.”
The two sides met on Thursday for three hours but were not able to bridging the very wide gap that separates them. Players Union chief Billy Hunter said after the meeting concluded “The problem is that there’s such a gap in terms of the numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can’t find any way to bridge that gap.”
The work-stoppage will suspend any team signing Free Agents or making trades. The NBA front office has notified all 30 teams that they are to have no contact with any NBA players or they will be fined $1 million. An unidentified General Manager said “The league office is digging in. They made it clear to everyone that they’re going to crack down hard on any sign of contact with the players and they said they’re going to be very vigilant.”
Stern realizes that an extended Lockout would hurt ancillary businesses and will not sit well with the fans of the Association. He said “The people who stand to have their livings impacted by a shutdown of our industry are going to have a negative view of both sides. I think our fans will tend to have a negative view of why can’t you guys work this thing out.”
The two sides will reportedly meet again in the next two or three weeks.