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NBA Lockout: Owners Want a Piece of LeBron James' Stake in Liverpool FC?

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NBA Lockout: Owners Want a Piece of LeBron James' Stake in Liverpool FC?
Some NBA owners literally want this Liverpool shirt off LeBron James' back.

NBA owners may talk like gangsters behind closed doors, but the more they try to push their hands into players’ pockets during the lockout, the more the NBA starts to look like the dying recording industry.

David Aldridge reported the following in last week’s Morning Tip column at nba.com:

“A source who deals with owners on a regular basis said that they remain determined to, if not break the union, break its current salary structure. The source said owners frequently speak of ‘being tired of making these guys rich’ and are even contemplating asking for more, such as including income the players receive from their commercial endorsements and sponsorship money into the BRI pot -- the theory being the players wouldn't become famous and able to make such deals if not for the NBA infrastructure that puts them on television and other media.”


Sounds like some NBA owners want to follow the record industry’s lead and use “360 deals” to make up for “accounting” losses. What’s a 360 deal, you ask?

A 360 deal is a recording artist contract that gives the record label a percentage of the artist’s income from revenue streams other than record sales, such as live shows, endorsements, merchandising, and film or TV contracts. See this article for an in-depth explanation, or check out this video of Wendy Day, from the Rap Coalition, for a colorful, summary explanation.

A 360 deal for NBA players would basically give owners a percentage of the income they earn outside their NBA contracts. If the owners got their wish, then LeBron James would have to pay a percentage of the income he receives from his minority stake in Liverpool FC to the NBA. The same would apply to any money that Dwyane Wade had earned from his T-Mobile endorsements or budding fashion career.

What is the chance the NBA is on the verge of becoming like the record industry?

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The owners’ belief that players need them more than they need the players is not new. Last year, Ken Berger from CBSSports.com reported a team executive made the following statement to him, on the condition of anonymity:

“They need us more than we need them,” the executive said. “If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” the executive said. “Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.”


So, the owners have gone from daring LeBron and Wade to try and make eight figures without the NBA, to allegedly wanting a piece of that action? They need to buy a vowel to get a clue.

As Kevin Love told Andy Katz from espn.com, the players know the NBA would not be a $4+ billion dollar enterprise without the players.

“It would be a crazy system and at the end of the day we're the product and the moneymaker and I don't see (the owners) going out there and playing,” Love said. "We've got to stick together as one.”


If NBA owners want to hold hands with the recording industry and slowly walk towards obsolescence, then 360 deals are the way to go. It will only be a matter of time before the Sneaker Wars begin.


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