For the forseeable future the only way you will be able to watch NBA basketball will be on the NBA Network and ESPN Classic as it appears the players are prepared to do whatever it takes to get what they consider a fair NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement from Team Owners. The “Associated Press” in separate interviews with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison found out that players will refuse to cave in to the Owners. Both players stated that the NBA Players Association is preparing for a protracted battle before this issue is settled.
Durant told AP that players are committed to wait until they get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that they consider fair even if it takes until December or January for the two sides to come to terms. The forward said “We’re going to stand up for what we have to do, no matter how long it’s going to take. No matter how long the lockout’s going to take, we’re going to stand up. We’re not going to give in. The way the CBA worked before is something we really liked. There’s no need to change it. Things have been going very well for us, as far as the league, revenue and things like that are concerned. We want to stick with that pace, but of course the owners want to go a different way with it. We’re going to stick with it until we come out with a good deal. We just want the owners to listen to us, man, and know that we’re out there playing for them and we always represent them in the right way. Hopefully, things get done.”
There is very little chance that a new CBA will be agreed that is similar to the now expired agreement as Commissioner David Stern has repeatedly stated that Team Owners are losing money under the terms of the old CBA which was ratified in 1999. Getting that deal to be accepted by both sides cost the Association 32 games during the 1998-1999 campaign as only 50 games were played that year.
Jamison told AP that players are far more prepared for an extended work-stoppage than they were over a decade ago. Jamison said “I think in ’98-99, we didn’t think it would be a long, drawn out process. Just the unity, the guys understanding what we’re facing and what we’re up against is totally different than what it was when I first got into the league. You had guys saying one thing and you had other guys going behind their back and saying another thing. The owners knew then they eventually would buckle.”
The veteran forward said that the NBA Players Association has warned its members to put aside a nest-egg in case of an extended Lockout. He believes that most players have done so, but there are others who did not heed the advice. Jamison said “Let’s be honest, there are going to be guys who did it and there are going to be guys who didn’t. You’re going to hear stories about guys that didn’t save their money and so forth, but I think collectively guys have done a good job being prepared for this lockout.”
Judging by the statements of the two players; the prevailing attitude is that it will be a long and drawn out process before any new deal is ratified. The Team Owners also have dug in their heels and are willing to wait as well. Unfortunately though, there is a third-party involved that may not be willing to wait things out; that would be the fans of the Association. With the economy in the tough shape it is in the entertainment dollar may be put to other uses while a work-stoppage goes on. There is no guarantee that the NBA will ever get those fans and their money back into the fold once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is ratified. The Team Owners attempt to derive more revenue may backfire leaving the Association in far worse shape than before the Lockout began.