Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – When the NFL lockout was in its deepest point, both sides were positive that a deal could be worked out in time to save the season. The same can’t be said of the NBA.
NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said Wednesday that he would wager that the entire 2011-2012 season will be canceled due to the lockout.
According to Hunter, a small group of new owners who view an NBA team as an investment that should be turning profits consistently are pushing NBA commissioner David Stern to take a hard-line no matter what the repercussions end up being.
The lockout started July 1, after the NBA’s most successful season in years. The NBA enjoyed widespread popularity thanks to the Miami Heat’s Big Three making all of their games must-see events at every arena in the league.
Hunter said players have agreed to drop their share of basketball revenue to 54 percent, but that’s their limit. Owners also want to institute a hard salary cap, which has helped propel football to never-before-seen popularity. But players refuse to budge and demand a soft cap like they’ve previously had.
Hunter indicated the sides are roughly $800 million apart on their discussions and he said that gap may be too much to overcome in time to save the season.
The NBA and the NBAPA will be walking a fine line if they choose to cancel the season. Outside of last season, the NBA’s off-season doesn’t draw the headlines of the NFL. Plus, college basketball will get started and people looking for a basketball fix can get it there.
In addition, the only league in recent memory to cancel an entire season is the NHL. The league was driving a bargain similar to that the owners in the NBA want. They determined it was in their long-term interest to cancel the season to impose their will on the players.
However, even though the owners won, the NHL has never seen the popularity it once had before the season was canceled. The NBA owners and players may be walking into a similar firestorm if both sides remain obstinate and cancel the season.