Despite denying that the job cuts had anything to do with the pending lockout, the NBA laid off 114 people last week in a cost-cutting move.
The layoffs represented 11 percent of the National Basketball League’s work force in New York, New Jersey, and internationally.
The league has claimed in reports that it lost $300 million last year due to increasing costs outpacing revenue, causing the owners to lock out the players when the collective bargaining agreement expired June 30.
The cuts have also extended to the league’s teams, as Charlotte, Detroit, and Minnesota have all laid off workers during the lockout.
As with the NFL lockout, more innocent people who have nothing to do with the work stoppage on either side are being hurt, losing jobs at a time when the national unemployment rate is high and the economy is still trying to recover from a devastating recession.
In a statement, the NBA said, “The layoffs are not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue; that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues. The roughly 11% reduction in headcount from the league office is part of larger cost-cutting measures to reduce our costs by $50 million across all areas of our business.”
A similar situation occurred during the NFL lockout, when teams placed employees on furlough or laid off a number of people. Even the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, reduced his pay from $10 million to $1 during the lockout, stating that since the players wouldn’t be paid, he wouldn’t either.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, also reduced his salary during the lockout. At the conclusion of the lockout, some teams announced that they would pay back all lost wages to workers.
As of now, David Stern, the NBA commissioner, who made $23 million last season (only Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers made more), has not announced any pay cuts for himself.
It’s a shame that the league would place the effects of the owner-imposed lockout on their workers, people who had nothing to do with player salaries’ and the increasing costs associated with doing business. Owners must also realize that one cause of the supposed $300 million in losses is that the economy is in shambles and slowly recovering.
The league and the players’ association are scheduled to have their first collective bargaining session today. Although the two sides are very far apart on a new deal, the scheduled meeting is a sign of progress to those in the basketball world.
Owners want to cut player salaries, but the National Basketball Players Association believes that the economic problems of the league can be solved through improved revenue sharing. The Boston Celtics recently signed a 20-year broadcast-rights deal with Comcast New England, which gave the team a 20 percent equity stake in the network.
None of the local broadcasting rights fees are presently shared amongst clubs.
Let’s hope the momentum from the NFL getting their deal done and season starting on time spurs their NBA counterparts to a deal. One can dream.