Guess what? NBA joins NFL as another pro league shut down

Jul 1, 2011 8:14 AM

The inevitable has happened. The NBA locked out its players Friday when the collective bargaining agreement expired, joining the NFL as another pro league shut down by labor strife.

It is believed to be only the second time that two leagues have been shut down simultaneously by labor problems.

In 1994, the NHL and MLB were idle from October through the end of the year. The NHL locked out its players from October 1994 until mid-January 1995 and reduced the 1994-95 season from 84 games to 48. MLB endured a 232-day strike from August 12, 1994 until April 2, 1995, which led to the cancellation of the entire 1994 postseason and World Series.

In a call with the labor relations committee on Thursday, Commissioner David Stern recommended that the first lockout since the 1998-99 season be imposed.

"We had a great year in terms of the appreciation of our fans for our game. It just wasn’t a profitable one for the owners, and it wasn’t one that many of the smaller market teams particularly enjoyed or felt included in," Stern told The Associated Press. "The goal here has been to make the league profitable and to have a league where all 30 teams can compete."

Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday and a final proposal from the players — which NBA leaders said would have raised average player salaries to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal – the sides could not close the enormous gulf between their positions.

"The problem is that there’s such a gap in terms of the numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can’t find any way to bridge that gap," union chief Billy Hunter said.

The impact of the strike has been felt in Las Vegas with the shutdown of the NBA summer league. And this past weekend at the Warren Moon Sports Dream Bowl Benefit at Texas Station, Oklahoma City’s All-Star guard Russell Westbrook told GamingToday that he would work out on his own if a lockout occurred.

About 90 percent of NBA players get paid from Nov. 15 through April 30, so they won’t be missing checks for a while. But Stern has warned that the offers only get worse once a lockout starts, so the league could try to push through elements of its original proposal when bargaining resumes.