Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Writer
The year of the lockout continues.
Thursday afternoon, with about 10 hours to go until the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement officially was set to end, the league’s owners officially told the players to take their talents elsewhere.
At midnight, they will be a basketball work stoppage.
And the NFL, which has been in a lockout since March 12, finally has some company.
Only, while there’s speculation the NFL is getting close to a compromise, this one might go the distance.
Yes, both are about money.
But the NFL has never said it is losing money. It just wants to make sure clubs hurting for money don’t start losing.
The NBA, on the other hand, has consistently claimed that it is losing money and needs to change its business model.
But while I get the impression that those involved in the NFL fight are willing to negotiate in good faith, I’m prepared to watch the NBA and the NBA Players Association go through a nasty divorce.
ESPN.com’s Andrew Brandt put out a little NBA lockout primer recently that I suggest everyone look at.
He breaks down the differences in both sides, what the owners are looking for and what the players are looking for.
What I get out of it is simply this: The NBA and players have a large gulf between them, one that won’t be easy to fix.
Thursday morning, Hornets point guard and player representative Chris Paul spoke about the lockout.
It has largely been thought that the owners are the ones who will stand firm. But Paul wondered why nobody says the players will stand firm.
It’s a good question.
“It’s not about them standing firm,” Paul said. “We’re just as firm. We’re standing together. We’re strong. We’re unified.”
And so the rhetoric begins.
The players want to keep their more than 54 percent of the pie while the owners want that number to go down.
The players want longer contracts, a soft salary cap and fully-guaranteed deals. The owners want short contracts and a harder “flex” cap.
The owners want a 10-year CBA while the players are after a five-year deal, aligning with a new TV package and, ergo, more money.
The NBA sides are farther apart at this point than the NFL sides were.
Don’t believe me?
Just listen to what NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters today after negotiations broke down.
Tweeted NBA TV analyst David Aldridge, “We’re not closer (than at the same time in 1999). In fact, it worries me that we’re not closer.”
Yes, I fully believe games will be missed and not just a few.
I just hope you enjoy college basketball.