The NBA Lockout Begins, And For David Stern And Players, The Devil's In The Details

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: David Stern, Commisioner of the NBA arrives at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

The NBA Lockout officially begins Friday, as David Stern and the NBA owners failed to reach an agreement with the NBA Players Association, and it looks like the league could be in for a long, ugly fight. Why? It all comes down to the details. Talking Points is a daily series that runs down some of the best stories in sports (and elsewhere). Read the archives here.

NBA players and owners have been meeting all week as they try to patch together a last-minute agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, but Thursday, the owners announced that they will lockout the players until a new agreement can be reached.

So ... PREPARE FOR CHAOS.

Or, at the very least, prepare for the very real possibility that the lockout will cut into the upcoming NBA season, and possibly engulf the entire thing. The NBA's lockout is going to be like a darker, more complicated version of the NFL's labor dispute, where everyone's just as stubborn and angry, but it's harder to distinguish between the heroes and villains.

In the NFL's case, it's pretty obvious that greedy owners have been the one's driving the dispute. With the NBA, though, the owners have some legitimate complaints, as do the players. 

David Aldridge outlines the conflicts over at NBA.com, and on SB Nation this morning, Tom Ziller put together an overview of David Stern's insane CBA proposal to the players. The takeaway from those two pieces? The lockout's more complicated than you'd think, nobody's completely wrong (or right), and it's all being compounded by unreasonable offers that have only antagonized both sides even further. (On that one, the owners deserve the blame.)

But if you're looking for more insight into the lockout, the best piece to read this afternoon would be Tommy Craggs' work over at Deadspin, where he sorts through the finances of the New Jersey Nets, and ultimately shows how (and why) certain NBA teams report massive financial losses when in fact, they're turning a profit. Imagine yourself as an NBA owner...

You are making money you didn't exactly earn from the moment you sign the paperwork, and you are making more money for your other businesses — your shopping mall across the street from the arena, your legal practice, your broadcast holdings — and then, come tax time, you are allowed by law, and even encouraged, to pretend you are not making any money at all. Remember this the next time David Stern says the NBA's economic system is broken. "The bottom line about the bottom line," Fort says, "is that even if it looks like they're losing money, it doesn't mean they're losing money."

The conclusions there are supported by the investigations from earlier in his piece, but as far as the NBA Lockout's concerned, it's a prime example of why this battle could be so brutal. On one side, the NBA owners can point to balance sheets that are very much in the red, and the current model makes it harder to prosper. On the other, players can argue that those numbers are misleading. On some level, both sides are right.

The current model makes it difficult for the majority of NBA teams to truly prosper, but by the same token, the owners aren't nearly as victimized as they seem to be suggesting. So what happens in an argument where both sides believe they shouldn't have to compromise?

A long, incredibly depressing argument.

But hey, it's an excuse to re-run this old Nike commercial.

With that, let's get into another edition of Talking Points...

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On The Bright Side, There Will No Decision™ This Summer. Over at Sports Illustrated, Zach Lowe gathered some of the major players from The Decision last summer to relive the madness in all its glory. Some of the behind the scenes stuff is pretty great.

For instance, here's an agent who was with LeBron that day.

Dowley:  [LeBron] arrived [Thursday] afternoon, maybe around 2 p.m., and he spent the next three-and-a-half to four hours at my house in Greenwich. I hired a cop and a security guard to sit on the road in front of my house so no one could get in just in case someone figured out where he was. But nobody knew. We had everybody from ESPN people, Boys & Girls Club people, sponsors and even a couple of my kids and their friends were there. And then Kanye West showed up. He and LeBron are pretty close friends. He called my office and just said he wanted to stop by. The office gave him my address, and he just stopped in. It was funny to watch — all the kids there thought LeBron was pretty cool, but apparently they think Kanye is really, really cool. They just flocked right to him.

Ah, yes. Never forget that the most self-aggrandizing moment in the history of the NBA came after a day of hanging out with Kanye West. Not blaming Kanye, of course, but it's kinda poetic.

Also, this little nugget was great.

Dowley: We went back to my house after the show, had a beer, and Kanye and LeBron talked for a while. We then went to the airplane hangar at White Plains. He and everyone else [not West] got on one plane and went to Miami. I got on another plane and went to Nantucket.

Of course the agent who brokered the deal took a private jet to Nantucket later night. Again, pretty much perfect.

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The Top 10 Revelations From Major League. We linked the full piece yesterday, but it's even easier to digest in list form over at Yahoo!'s Big League Stew.

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The 10 Sexiest Women In Sports. HEY NOW.

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A Look At The Life Of A Seven-Footer. Pablo Torre's one of my favorite writers at Sports Illustrated, and his look into the world of seven foot humans that don't play in the NBA (retired or otherwise), was pretty fantastic. The craziest takeaway comes here:

The curve shaped by the CDC's available statistics, however, does allow one to estimate the number of American men between the ages of 20 and 40 who are 7 feet or taller: fewer than 70 in all. Which indicates, by further extrapolation, that while the probability of, say, an American between 6'6" and 6'8" being an NBA player today stands at a mere 0.07%, it's a staggering 17% for someone 7 feet or taller.

Basically, if you're seven feet, you've got a 20% chance at playing in the NBA. UN-REAL.

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A Brutally Honest Appraisal Of Boston College Football. Bill Connelly has been putting together some pretty unbelievable team-by-team previews for SB Nation's college football section, and today he got to my alma mater, Boston College. This one hit a little too close to home:

Even to some B.C. alums, they are probably fifth in the list of priorities ... sixth if you include B.C. hockey. They are TCU without the recruiting base. They averaged just under 42,000 per game in home attendance in 2007, when they were surging to No. 2 and finishing with 11 wins; they averaged 37,000 in 2010. (Michigan State doesn't exactly play the most exciting brand of football either, and they averaged 73,000 last fall.) They don't travel well to bowls, which is a self-fulfilling concept -- don't travel to bowls, and you don't get picked by good bowls you may otherwise deserve to attend, which confirms that your disappointed fanbase won't travel well to the lesser bowl that selected you. The fans/loyalists/obsessives they do have are appropriately passionate; they just don't have enough of them.

Disturbingly on-point, to the extent that I still haven't read the rest of his preview, because I'm not sure I can handle too much more honest as far as BC football's concerned. On the other hand, you should all check out the previews he's putting together over there, because they're all pretty fantastic, and alarmingly in-depth.

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Speaking of Boston College... Here's a look at ex-BC center Sean "Big Time" Williams on the comeback trail. I knew Big Time at BC--he referred to himself as "Big Time", naturally--and I'll always remember him as A) one of the funniest human beings on earth, B) one of the most impressive college athletes I've ever seen in person, and C) Unbelievably clueless when it comes to staying out of trouble (remember this story?). Having said that, it would be so cool to see him finally catch on in the NBA. (You know, if the NBA even exists next year.)

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The Truth About Rex Ryan And Wes Welker. A few days old, but a pretty great indication of what type of guy Rex Ryan is, and why he's so successful. From Deadspin:

According to our witness, Rex, who was a little jittery about being in public with Michelle for the first time since we posted their foot-fetish videos, saw Welker hanging out with some guys and said to his wife: "Look, honey, you remember Wes Welker? Let's go say hi to him." Whereupon Rex grabbed Michelle and walked over to Welker and said, "Hey, Wes. How are you? You remember my beautiful wife, don't you?" Welker did, of course, and he quickly apologized. ... our source says, "Plenty of people saw it and said it was the coolest thing they'd ever seen — it was the perfect way to defuse that uncomfortable situation."

Also, talking about Rex Ryan just got me so excited for football season.

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Finally, It's The Slowest Week Of The Year In Sports. And if the lack of meaningful sports has got you down, or the impending NBA armageddon has broken your spirits and left you feeling cynical, please consult Louis CK explaining fart jokes on The Daily Show this week. When all else fails, we can always take solace in a good ole fashioned fart joke.

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