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NBA Exceptionalism Is Not A Given

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NBA aims to crush union in labor battle - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
Here’s how an NBA front-office executive described the document the commissioner’s office delivered to the union to start labor negotiations: "It’s just a photocopy of Stern’s middle finger."

NBA union VP and Orlando Magic center Adonal Foyle calls owners' CBA offer 'ludicrous' - ESPN
We have been willing to negotiate a guarantee that we don't get over a certain threshold, and no other businesses do that. We hold back 9 percent of our income so that the owners can make sure they are covered on the back end. We have given up a lot of stuff, and they have given up a lot of stuff, so I think to start off a negotiation in this rash a term, I think it's unfair," Foyle said.

Hardwood Paroxysm " Blog Archive " NBA Labor Talks: Mutiny On The S.S. NBAPA
Joe Smith and Chuck Hayes having as much if not more power in the financial future of the PA than the King. How bizarre is that concept? This story will be fascinating to watch, but I fear the only way this ends is with the start of 2011-2012 being in January.

The New CBA: A Shotgun Wedding on the Horizon - Blazersedge
Between the momentum and the economy the owners are swooping in for the kill this time. They intend the players to come a long way and they've just raised the war flag to communicate those intentions. No matter how much the players end up salvaging, the NBA we've known for the last couple of CBA cycles is going to change.

More after the jump.

Blazersedge has the key rundown of the looming NBA labor crisis, but Hardwood Paroxysm gets to a key aspect of the issue, too. There has to be a lot more give than what we're seeing right now from the owners, who, understandably, have asked for massive concessions from the players. But they can't honestly want what they've demanded; it's obviously a ploy to set a baseline for negotiations and then work the Players Association to a desirable CBA.

Here's why: NBA exceptionalism is no longer a given.

Say the NBA limits top end stars to 4 year contracts at some ridiculously low per-year total, like $8 million, as the owners appear to have proposed. That would be league suicide. Ultimately, someone like Dirk Nowitzki is staying in the United States because A) this is the best competition in the world, and he's proving himself against the best, and B) he's getting paid far more money to play in this league than he could anywhere else.

But if, suddenly, the top teams in Germany, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and China can now pay equal per-season salaries as even the richest NBA clubs, and a few can even blow those salaries out of the water, that raises the possibility of guys like Yi Jianlian and Danilo Gallinari deciding they'd rather get paid equal money to live at home. Then there are the guys like Mark Madsen, who made decent careers as role players in the NBA, but could instead get paid twice as much to fight for a starting job in Paris. An aging star might decide playing in Greece, spending weekends in Ibiza, is the way to end his career, a reverse-Beckham, if you will.

And then there's the worst case scenario. LeBron will stay in the United States no matter what, because he'll make more money in endorsements here than he can anywhere else, but someone like Amar'e Stoudemire, a couple steps down from The King, has a ton of incentive to make the leap. You don't think adidas, or whichever shoe company, wouldn't sponsor him anymore if he got paid $15 million per year to terrorize the Spanish league?

Not all of that would happen, but a lot of it would, and that brings us back to the Dirk example. Even if the money's not there, he can always tell himself he's playing against the best the world has to offer... until he's not anymore, because enough Yis, Gallinaris, Madsens, and Stoudemires are all playing elswhere that the best games elsewhere match some of the games here.