July 1, 2011

NBA Lockout Officially Begins

By - Kris Fletcher

The NBA lockout officially began at 12:01 this morning, and it may very well last a while.

Despite a three-hour meeting on Thursday and a final proposal from the players, the sides could not close the enormous gap between their positions.

Photo from: nydailynews.com
All league business is now on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have started today. The NBA's summer league in Las Vegas has been canceled, preseason games in Europe were never even scheduled, and players may now have to decide if they want to risk playing in this summer's Olympic qualifying tournaments without the NBA's help in securing insurance in case of an injury.

Teams are prohibited from having any contact with their players, most of whom won't be paid until a new deal is reached.

The league appeared to be headed this route from the start of negotiations. Owners have said they've lost hundreds of millions in every season of this collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified back in 2005. League officials say twenty-two of the thirty teams have lost money.

Owners want to reduce the players guarantee of 57% of basketball revenue. The players offered to drop it to 54.3%, saying that would cut their salaries by $500 million over the next five years. The owners rejected the offer.

"The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all thirty teams can compete," Commissioner David Stern said. "Right now, I don't think we're close to a deal, and that worries me. We have a huge philosophical divide."

The last NBA lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to a fifty-game schedule. It is the only time the league has missed games due to a work stoppage.

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