Last Tuesday was when the NBA season was suppose to start. Dallas was suppose to hang their banner from the rafters and celebrate their first championship; instead, there was more talk about Mark Cuban buying the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball franchise than his basketball franchise celebrating winning a World Championship. So why is there no NBA basketball? Because a bunch of multi-millionaires cannot figure out how to split fairly the hundreds of millions of dollars that is related to three letters – B.R.I. – Basketball Related Income.
Before June even the avid fan probably had never heard of BRI, let alone knew what the acronym stood for. But these three letters are what seem to be holding hostage what many anticipated to be an exciting NBA season. I was curious why is BRI so important and why is a 50/50 split, which the owners have offered the players, so unfair, at least in the eyes of the NBA Players Association. After a little investigation, I would love to say I learned why, but all I did learn is that I still do not know why the players are so animately disgruntled that they are willing to give up a season’s salary over it.
BRI is basically the division of income from things like ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc… The things the fan has to pony up to hopefully be entertained for 2 1/2 hours of their lives. This is also what the salary cap and player’s salaries are based on; hence, the reason why the players are so up in arms over it being decreased by 7 percent. What this will basically mean for players is potentially a 7 percent pay-cut for future player contracts. So a player who is making roughly 5 million dollars, which tends to be around the mid-level exception each year, will now make 4.65 million dollars. Ouch!
Let’s put this in real world terms. In an environment where businesses are laying off thousands of workers, school districts are laying of hundreds of teachers, major retailers are taking back much needed health benefits, small businesses are closing… If an employer was able to juggle the books so that a 7 percent pay-cut was all employees had to take to keep their jobs, employees would breath a sigh of relief.
What the NBA player does not understand is that to play in the NBA is not a birthright. It is a very special privilege, like it or not, granted to them by a group of multi-millionaires who are out to make money. A lot of it if possible. Unlike a worker at Wal-Mart who if forced to take a 7 percent pay-cut off their $60 a day salary would literally mean food off the table, a 7 percent pay-cut for even the lowest paid NBA player would mean one less fancy sports car they’d have to finance. We are comparing necessities to luxuries. The NBA player basically has been the spoiled child who has received whatever they wanted for the first 16 years of their lives and now their parents have finally decided to get tough and start to discipline, and the child is throwing the biggest tantrum of their life.
What the NBA player has to realize is that they are not losing anything. They are just not gaining as much. This is not a life or death situation. The minimum salary will still be around the same as what President Obama makes to be the leader of the free world. It will still be six times that of the highest paid teacher or police officer. They are not losing jobs. The roster limits will still be at 12 with room for a couple of injured players to ride the bench. Health benefits remain the same, per diems don’t change. They will not have to pay for their own hotel rooms. For the NBA player to say that a 50/50 split is not good enough… maybe they need to ask the popcorn vendor, who is now unemployed because of the lockout, if he was given the chance to keep 50 percent of his popcorn sales if that would be fair? Or the sales representatives in the marketing department who were laid off, if they would be willing to take 7 percent less off their old paychecks to keep their jobs.
The simple fact of the matter is – Players, have been ridiculously overpaid for years. The Lebron James and Kobe Bryants of the NBA will still make crazy money. Rightfully so. They are what make the wheels on the bus go round and round. It’s the salaries of the Jared Jeffries, and the Eddie Currys of the NBA who contribute little (if at all), but get paid like royalty, that need to be reigned in. This is what the owners are trying to do. Players, accept the reality that we live in a new economic world. Be thankful you still have great health benefits, per diems that are monthly salaries for most people, luxury hotels, VIP service at restaurants, free shoes and sportswear… If you have any doubt what you are not getting, just talk to the security guard that works behind your bench and ask him what he and his family are not getting while you tweet on your Twitter, and polish your Porches while waiting for that phone call from Billy Hunter saying that a 50/50 BRI split is not good enough for you. If you really want to see how fast this lockout will be settled, let the players deal with the realities of being a normal high school/college graduate looking for a job in today’s job market. I bet 50/50 won’t look that bad after all.