“Exhausting” Negotiations Take A Break, As Will Merchandise Sales

lockoutAfter two seven-hour days of negotiating, both sides are taking a much needed day off, because that’s what we all do after two days of work.  

Berger reports that NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said that the two sides did not discuss the most contentious issue, the division of Basketball-Related Income, and instead talked about system issues. NBPA president Derek Fisher, meanwhile, acknowledged that there were “still huge gaps” between the two sides, who decided to switch the discussion to individual system issues.

“Break down the mountain into separate pieces and tackle it one step at a time,” Fisher explained. “We weren’t going to be able to make major, sweeping progress on the entire economic and system at the same time. Maybe if we split them up and try to go at them one at a time … we can at least get some momentum and some progress going.”

USA Today reported that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the two sides were still “miles apart.”

I’m not going to dive into what this means or guessing what’s coming next.  I’d have a better chance of guessing Lady Gaga’s next outfit (there’s my one pop culture mention for the month).  There’s a lot of posturing going on and writing extensively about it would be fruitless.  And they didn’t even talk about how to split revenues yesterday.  Which means they spent seven hours talking about things other than money yesterday.

But the worst part is when you hear David Stern talk about how “exhausting” talks have been.  The backlash was swift in the social media space as NBA bloggers and fans wondered why, at such a critical juncture, both sides would take any time away from the bargaining table.  They’ll return tomorrow, but that’s a lost day, and the focus should be on getting this deal done.  

In the meantime, money is being lost.  The Oregonian, via PBT, reported merchandise sales will take a huge hit the longer this goes.

On one aspect, Cohen and Powell completely agreed: Apparel sales will be hammered by a lockout of almost any duration, a prediction that would be especially damaging to Adidas — the leagues official apparel provider. Look for 50 percent fewer sales of jerseys and other paraphernalia for the duration of the lockout, Powell said.

And if the lockout lingers, the NBA, Nike, Adidas and everyone else in the basketball business will see declining sales across the board because of declining interest, Cohen said.

In that event, Cohen said, “people arent playing as much, not thinking about it as much.”

I’ll quote Adrian Wojnarowski, who nailed this on the head:


Twitter / @WojYahooNBA: Unlike the NFL, the NBA’s … via kwout

That ties this whole thing up nicely.  People are pissed that they’re not talking tomorrow, and pretty soon that apathy is going to lead to the inevitable huge decline in merchandise sales.  

The NBA went out on such a high when Dallas beat Miami in June.  But that popularity hasn’t had time to set yet.  The glue is still wet, and the progress made last season won’t stick.  Owners are waiting until regular season games are lost in an effort to beat the players.  Ultimately, though, they’re going to lose because they’re killing their own product.