Michael Jordan, the NBA, its Players, and this Tricky Lockout – Part 1

I don’t like the heat Michael Jordan has taken during the NBA negotiations.

Lacy Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times referred to him as a “coin-operated two-faced jerk” and Stephon Marbury called him “Michael Fake Jordan.” The criticisms that demean MJ while moaning in disbelief that he is different from his days as a player disobey logic.

Of course he is different; his role in the business of professional basketball has changed from player to owner. So, the confused astonishment that he is not “sensitive” to the labor side of this dispute is misguided. Whatever he is involved in, Mike goes all out to win.

It would be counterintuitive for an owner to enter negotiations with the attitude and approach of a player; just as it would equally be for a player to come to it with an owner’s mindset.

Mike was but one of many owners and players engaged in “hard-ball” talks to wrest negotiating advantage from the other for control over the “spoils” of professional basketball — preferred position in the areas of basketball revenue sharing, salary cap structure, contracts, and free agency. Why was he painted as the bad guy?

Reports indicate the owners last offer rolled back some of their earlier aggressive demands (non-guaranteed contracts, salary reductions, and a hard cap). They put a cherry on top of that by also offering a 50-50 split on basketball related income. Observers believed this last proposal was “fair” to the players.

On Monday November 14, 2011 the union put on a granite face and rejected it by an adhoc show of hands by a small band of players in attendance. The union was dissolved by the decision to file a disclaimer of interest letter with the Commissioner Stern.

The NBPA is now a trade association. As such, each player must individually lawyer-up and participate in a class action anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA challenging the legality of the owner-initiated lockout.

As an observer with no skin in the game, I just don’t see the strength in that.

Check back Saturday for more of my take on the NBA Lockout.

Papa GM

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