The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

Houston Roundball Review: An Open Letter

November 4, 1998

First of all, David Stern, Russ Granik, Billy Hunter, David Falk and the agents, the NBA owners, and NBA players: WAKE UP!!!

The negotiations during the NBA Lockout have clearly broken down and now involve egos, posturing, and rhetoric. The public doesn't care who said what--the public, some anyway, wants to see basketball games.

It's clear both sides are trying to use real world economics to present theirr side of the negotiations. Here's a hint for each of you: the NBA isn't the real world!!! In the real world, if you ask Joe Fan or someone who works 9 to 5 if they would like to have a cap placed on their salary which would eliminate their chances of fair market value, the majority would respond with a resounding NO. Using that same argument, NBA players are crying, "FOUL" to any sort of hard salary cap as if they only make $25 to $35K a year! Give me a break!

While the average salary in the NBA is $2.6 M, the median salary is approximately $1M which clearly dwarfs the salaries made by the working class. Of course, I know many players signed for the league minimum of roughly $275K last season; but, even that league minimum mocks the annual salaries of Joe Fan.

Owners have proposed a cap on players' salaries in terms of limiting the amount a player may earn based on the percentage of the salary cap. For 1 to 5 year players, the maximum a player could earn would be 25% of the salary cap; 6 to 10 year players would max out at 30% of the cap; and 10 plus year players would max out at 35%. Assuming league growth, the salary cap rises each season. When you guys finally make a deal, a projected salary cap of $33M would mean annual maximum salaries, under the owners proposal, of $8.25M, $9.9M, and $11.55M!!

Now, players are you telling me and the rest of the public that that's wrong?! Obviously you are, which means you've clearly lost your senses. Since you feel that way, please try earning that amount in an everyday 9 to 5 job. It would take any of you, Michael Jordan included, lifetimes to earn $8.25M in one year!

I'm not placing all the blame on the players because the owners helped create this ridiculous situation. Mr. George Shinn, Charlotte Hornets owner, you started the league down this road with that ridiculous 7 year, $84M contract to Larry Johnson. Mr. Glen Taylor, Timberwolves' owner, you were the straw that broke the camel's back with your 6 year, $126M contract extension for Kevin Garnett even though you were negotiating against no other team but yourself. It's obvious NBA owners don't know how to spend their money wisely on players (Seattle center's Jim McIlvaine $33M contract is another clear example). It's obvious to everyone, except those on the owners' side, that the owners truly do need "protection from themselves"!

Don't any of you realize or care that, if you continue to alienate your paying public, the revenue stream all of you are trying to divide up is going to dwindle which would mean less money for all of you? If people stop attending games, stop paying for licensed merchandise, and stop watching televised games, each of you is going to get hit in a spot that's near and dear to each one of you--your wallets. Maybe that's what you want. If so, keep wasting everyone's time; you'll arrive there eventually.

By the way, when this mess is finally settled, do any of you have plans to compensate all the employees and businesses you've affected with this work stoppage? ...I didn't think so.