Pro Basketball: NBA labor dispute costing both sides money

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

The St. Louis Cardinals were crowned World Series champions during the final week of October. Now, we’ve moved into the first week of November, and that usually means it’s time for me to start paying attention to the NBA.

Thanks to their labor disagreement, I won’t have any Bulls games to watch this month. According to NBA Commissioner David Stern, the earliest we may see professional basketball is Thursday, Dec. 1.

Yes. Our games are canceled through Nov. 30,” said Stern. Then, he completely doused any thoughts that an 82-game schedule still could be squeezed into a time-shortened season. “It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now. There will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances,” Stern said.

I am not privy to all of the intricate details of the labor dispute between the players and the owners. Nor do I really care. The only thing I am certain of is it’s about gigantic money. Stern claims the league has lost $200 million by missing out on the preseason and will lose hundreds of millions more with the loss of November games. “We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is. … The NBA’s offer will necessarily — its next offer — will reflect the extraordinary losses that are starting to pile up now,” Stern said.

He added: “Both sides are very badly damaged. The amount of dollars lost to the owners is extraordinary. And the amount of dollars lost to players under individual contracts is also extraordinary. … You can make computations about who’s going to be able to make it back and who’s not going to be able to make it back. I’m not sure that any time in the short run the owners will be able to make it back. And I know for a fact that in the short run, the players will not be able to make it back and probably never be able to make it back.”

Right now, I can honestly say I’m not really missing the NBA. That could definitely change once the NFL season comes to a close and the Super Bowl is history. It’s nice to have basketball on those snowy, cold, dark winter nights. I hope both sides will figure out a way to salvage some part of this season by then.

The good news is this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in the league. Back in 1999, they had a 50-game season. That season didn’t begin until the first part of February. Owners and players did not agree on a new collective bargaining agreement back then until early January.

That means there still may be hope. The ball is in their court.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Nov. 2-8, 2011, issue

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