Executive of the Player's Union Billy Hunter (Left) sits with Commissioner David Stern (Right) during Labor Negotiations
As the first two weeks of the season have already been canceled with the threat of losing big-earning games over Christmas, the lockout has reached its brutal, ugly peak.
A lack of games and paychecks will test the players' resolve like never before. While the players may no longer have the leverage in the lockout battle, they deserve to earn a higher percentage of the revenue than the owners.
Detractors might point out that players are paid millions of dollars to play a game and thus don’t have any room to complain, but the simple truth is while the superstars and everyday names do make significant amounts of money, the normal, unknown player is not quite so fortunate.
The NBA is a fickle business with a short time-span for these players to make the money that should hopefully sustain them for their lifetime. Owners have made their fortunes elsewhere and have decided to own a franchise because they could afford it, and it was a lifelong dream of theirs.
The players have been completely honest throughout the lockout while the owners have a lot more ambiguity clouding most of their claims. While the NBA claimed that 22 of the 30 teams reported losses this past year, a Forbes report showed increases in franchise value across the United States.
The owners have never come out and made any public statements, instead using David Stern as a puppet to issue broad statements for the group as a whole.
As the lockout roars into full force it is easy to pick sides as both try to gain the upper hand in the media and with the public. Having scoured the sports news world for months reading about this issue, I believe that NBA teams should go public.
Going public offers owners the ability to liquidate a good portion of the company, while still retaining majority ownership and control over personnel and team decisions.
While critics might point out that allowing anyone to buy stock in a company could lead to a power struggle, owners can structure the stocks in such a way that they would have the same relative control as they did previously.
In going public, teams would actually be held more accountable by fans, as investors would be able to allege a violation of duty if a team were to offer too much money to a player or turn down anything that would hurt the profit or the team in general.
The NBA would then actually give teams the ability to sell stock with restrictions that ensure a one-man decision remains without public shareholder interference. Going public satisfies the issues brought up by both the players and the owners throughout the lockout.
Who do you side with?
As the lockout has loomed on, the owners have pointed to the losses incurred by several of the teams as the main reason for their stricter demands for the new collective bargaining agreement. Players are trying to hold firm that they will not relent to the owner’s “low-ball” tactics.
Having been an NBA fan my entire life, I know that a dream of mine has always been to become an owner of my favorite team. This would allow all fans to realize their dreams of taking ownership in their favorite teams, regardless of the percentage.
A hidden benefit is that by offering shares to the public, it forces ownership to be accountable and honest with the shareholders about their intentions for the team. As long as this lockout is ongoing and the economy is slow, there is no way to overlook teams going public as an untapped market for turning a profit when few are able to in this current system.
It would allow owners to make money and players to get paid the money they deserve as bad contracts would be cut down by investors and the new board of trustees that come with public ownership.
This lockout is not going to end anytime soon with both sides fortifying their fronts and bracing for the long haul. Since owners are not dealing with personnel matters, this is the perfect time for them to look into this alternative to the current stalemate at hand.
At the end of the day, everyone wants to make money and everyone wants to see basketball played. Going public would offer the ultimate experience for the fan, while generating the revenue needed for both sides to agree to a compromise.