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Dwain Price: Where avarice happens: NBA lockout a sad story

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Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce shoots baskets in an empty arena before a 2010 NBA semifinal series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston.

This is a tale about greed.

Greed on the part of NBA players and owners. Greed to the point where both sides have lost touch with reality, which is why the NBA first canceled the final two weeks of preseason games and then on Monday canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.

Training camps were supposed to open Oct. 4. But that didn't happen because owners and players can't come to a mutual agreement on how to slice a financial pie large enough to put a dent in the federal deficit.

The opening of the NBA regular season — scheduled for Nov. 1 — but all of the festivities are on hold while billionaire owners battle millionaire players over billions of dollars.

Among the more meaningful items on the table is the owners' desire to have a new salary cap structure — perhaps a hard salary cap similar to what's in place in the NFL. The hard salary cap is a mechanism put in place to protect the owners from themselves. It keeps overzealous owners from opening their wallets too wide to (over)pay for potential talent.

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With a hard salary cap, owners can simply tell players, "Hey, I'd love to give you a lot more money, but I've got this hard salary cap I can't exceed."

In effect, a hard salary cap would drive down player salaries and increase owner profits.

The league has said that 22 of its 30 teams lost money last season, totaling about $300 million. The league wants to stop the bleeding, which is perfectly understood.

The owners also would like to reduce the players' guaranteed basketball-related income from 57 percent to maybe 50 percent or less.

The players are seeking iron-clad security that will last beyond retirement from the game, and no one is blaming them for that. Get what you can while you can.

Derek Fisher, the Los Angeles Lakers point guard who doubles as the players' association president, says the players have been more than fair with their proposals and the concessions they've made.

The problem is average fans don't completely understand the players' side. They see the players barely working a 40-hour week, working about eight months a year and earning more than $5 million a year. The fans say: What's the problem?

It's difficult for them to side with the players. The fans believe players are too greedy and should simply better manage their enormous salaries.

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In essence, the NBA's last lockout — during the 1998-99 season, which was reduced to a 50-game regular season — was filled with animosity, heated rhetoric and embarrassing moments. The sticking points in this year's lockout are much worst.

One of these days, NBA players will sit down and finally negotiate in good faith. In case they don't know it, they're about to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

All in the name of greed.

 

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