Basketball on strike
NBA players join their NFL counterparts on the sidelines
Jul 7th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition
WHEN the clock struck midnight on June 30th the number of jobless men in America increased by 450. Few, though, will pity these idle labourers. The average among them earned around $5m last year.
Their employers had long thought that too much. So the owners of the National Basketball Association (NBA) locked out their players after the two sides failed to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement. With the National Football League (NFL) in a similar state of abeyance, sports fans are becoming well-versed in American labour law.
As with the NFL, the NBA lockout comes at an inopportune time. The decision was taken just 18 days after an exciting championship that saw the league’s most captivating (and skilled) villain, LeBron James of the Miami Heat, outplayed by a likeable legend, Dirk Nowitzki of the victorious Dallas Mavericks. That capped a season in which sales of tickets and merchandise, as well as TV ratings, were up.
“We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game. It just wasn’t a profitable one for the owners,” says David Stern, the league’s longtime commissioner. He claims that 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams are losing money.