Even when you know it’s coming, it doesn’t make it any less painful.
There will be no NBA games in November.
David Stern said in his press conference following the dissolution of labor talks (again!) that all games through Nov. 30 would be canceled.
That also means there will be no 82 game NBA season this year, he said.
“It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now… in light of the breakdown of talks there will not be a full NBA schedule this season,” Stern said.
This cancelation will hit the players in the pocketbook — their first paycheck for this season was due on Nov. 15 (they get paid on the 15th and 30th during the season).
A number of owners had wanted to make the players miss paychecks, to feel that pain, knowing that is their ultimate leverage. The players have been dug in for more than a year knowing this was coming and many say they are fine. Still missing a paycheck is missing a paycheck.
The sticking points in talks remain the split of basketball related income (league revenue) and how a more stiff luxury tax will fit.
The big date looming on the horizon is Christmas, a showcase day for the NBA where marquee teams play on national television. For the more casual sports fan, that is like the NBA’s second opening day. It’s when they really start watching. It will take about 30 days to get up and running from the day the two sides reach a handshake deal, so you do the math. It’s not long.
The good news is that the league isn’t pushing back the start of the season indefinitely, it looks like just two more weeks. Of course the point of missing two more weeks is to make sure the players miss a paycheck and feel some real pain.
Well, maybe that’s not good news.
Multiple reports (the New York Daily News was first) now have the NBA officially canceling two more weeks of the season on Tuesday. All games through Nov. 28, the games through the weekend after Thanksgiving, will be called off.
The first two weeks of NBA games — 100 games in total through Nov. 14 — had already been canceled by the league after talks had stalled out previously. The new cancellations would mean that 202 total games (about 16 percent of the season) would be called off.
This second cancellation will hit the players in the pocket books. Players get paid on the 15th and 30th of the month during the season, which means their first paycheck was to be Nov. 15. There has been a faction of owners that from the start have wanted to drag this out and make the players miss paychecks and feel pain. The players know this and some countered in recent years by requiring their payments be spread out over a year. Still, this will hurt a lot of players.
NBA Commissioner David Stern had said a couple weeks back his gut was that if a deal wasn’t worked out with a federal mediator he thought there would be no games on Christmas. Those talks blew up in an ugly fashion last Thursday, and the two sides have not met since, nor are any meetings scheduled.
It’s far too early for the league to cancel Christmas games, which are a huge showcase for the league and the first games on national broadcast television. It’s a showcase day that is scheduled to feature a finals rematch of the Heat and Mavericks, as well as the Lakers vs. Bulls.
Optimists around the league still think we will see those games, but there are fewer and fewer of those around. They are becoming an endangered species.