This is by far the most frustrating part about the NBA lockout — while the owners and players argue over how to split up $4 billion a year of the fans’ money, people with regular jobs and salaries who rely on the league for a living are the ones feeling the pinch.
One that will get much worse if games are canceled. Which is a very real possibility.
The latest example of this happened in Miami, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.
According to multiple sources, staffers in the basketball operation – in coaching, training, scouting, equipment, media relations and so on — were presented with an option last fall, after the Heat had already signed James, Wade and Chris Bosh and was selling tickets at an unprecedented pace. To guarantee retention during a potential lockout, they had to accept the across-the-board 10 percent pay cut, from the lockout’s July 1 start through Sept. 30. On Oct. 1, that pay cut would grow to 25 percent through Mar. 31 or until the lockout ended, whichever came first. If the lockout lasted past Mar. 31, which would surely cancel the season, the reduction would rise to 50 percent.
Since Micky Arison has a reputation for treating employees well, many staffers were surprised and disappointed by the measures. While it amounts to more lost money for the likes of Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra – both of whom did take cuts, according to two sources – it hurts those on the lower levels more.
I don’t post this to slam Arison, who is one of the NBA’s better owners. People want to work for him. But this is a league wide thing — even profitable big-market teams like the Lakers laid off employees or made them take pay cuts.
If the lockout does cost games the pain felt by workers at the arenas and others who depend on the league will worsen. That remains the real shame of this lockout. And it’s on both the owners and players to fix it.