Pay Them Essay

This essay has a total of 3019 words and 13 pages.


Pay Them

There was a time when men played for the love of the game; when competition alone
satisfied the male ego. This age of basketball featured greats such as Wilt Chamberlain,
Bill Russell, and Oscar Robinson. These gladiators, and those like them, battled
repeatedly winning league championships, MVP's, scoring titles, and other accolades. Then,
the product of James Naismith moved into an era where the love continued, but money was
added. Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkely, Reggie Miller and Tim Hardaway have become league
"poster-boys" for commercials and shoe contracts. Each of them has continued the
competitive fire's burning while adding a flare of green. Today, the league seems to be
completely entrenched in money. Multi-million dollar contracts, million dollar
endorsements, and billion dollar television deals are the focus of the league now. Some
criticize on the players for being so concerned about money while others argue the players
should be compensated for their God given talents. These "some" are mostly owners' of NBA
franchises and the "others" are the players. There are some that petition that the players
bring in the money, so they should receive it while others say that they are already
compensated enough for a game. In this instance, the "some" are pro player fans and the
"others" are allies of the owners. With the large amounts of money that pass through the
hands of the owners of NBA franchises and the precedent that has been set by other
professional athletic leagues, NBA players should receive substantial compensation for
their services.

Employee-Employer relations have been rigid since the beginning of time. For this reason,
laborers started labor unions to rectify the problem. Labor unions, are associations of
workers for the purpose of improving economic status through collective bargaining, formed
out of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century (Labor). Collective bargaining is
defined as the negotiation between the representatives of organized workers and their
employer(s) to determine wages, hours, rules, and working conditions. The conditions under
which these former farmers had to work were unbearable. The farmer got tired of the
treatment and banded to together. Labor unions sprouted in the US around the 1830's;
however, the first major group was the Knights of Labor that organized in 1869 (Labor).

Within the last six years there has been much discussion about the National Basketball
Association and it's labor agreement. The NBA labor agreement, the cause of the current
lockout, does not meet the approval of the owners. The details are tedious, but the
overall discrepancy looms over how much the players are worth and how much the owners
should pay them. In the summer of 1995 the owners opened the collective bargaining
agreement. Their fear, the same fear that caused this year's lockout, is that the players
are receiving too much of the BRI, or basketball related income. In 1988 the collective
bargaining agreement allotted the players forty-eight percent of BRI, they earned
fifty-two percent. The owners, not happy with these figures, locked the players out until
a better contract was agreed upon. The players, eager to play and start the season,
accepted a six-year deal that stated:

 The average daily salary will increase from $1.7 million to $3 million over six years ("NBA Votes…").

 The minimum salary will increase from $150,000 to $225,000 next season and will
increase by ten percent each season thereafter ("NBA Votes…").

 The creation of a $1 million exception for those teams exceeding the salary cap ("NBA Votes…").

 The retention of the Larry Bird exception, which states that players completing
two seasons with a team can re-sign with that team for any amount regardless of the salary
cap ("NBA Votes…").

 The elimination of the luxury tax ("NBA Votes…").

 The players shall be allocated forty-eight percent of BRI and the owners have the
option of opening the agreement if it reaches over fifty-one point eight percent

Sixty-three percent of the ninety percent of the player's union who were present at the
meeting voted for this agreement. Two members of the player's union, union lawyer Jeffrey
Kessler and Michael Jordan, foresaw the problems of this agreement. In an interview after
the signing, Kessler says, "I still believe it was a terrible vote for the players and
they are going to regret it for a long time,"("NBA Votes…"). Jordan had similar, but
different thoughts. "I am with the majority as long as two years down the road they can
live with the repercussions of what this deal is going to give them" ("NBA Votes…").

Michael Jordan and Jeffrey Kessler jinxed the agreement. On Tuesday June 30, 1998 at
midnight the NBA Board of Directors locked the players out. The owners, once again
frustrated over the percentage of BRI that the players received shut down all personnel
transactions, workout facilities, and summer camps ("NBA Lockout…"). The immediate cause
of the lockout stems from the $995 million in total salaries, or fifty-seven percent of
BRI that the players received instead of their contractual forty-eight percent ("NBA
Lockout…"). Still, there are other issues that caused the lockout. The league wants:

 A firm salary cap that cannot be broken ("NBA Lockout…").

 The Larry Bird clause to be phased out in two years ("Stern…").

 The annual increase for veterans limited to five percent ("Stern…")

 A guaranteed five-year rookie contract with the right of first refusal for one year ("NBA Lockout…").

 A drug policy that includes heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana ("NBA Lockout…").

The owners wants are not unwarranted. They feel as though a stern salary cap will curve
the large contracts that have recently taken precedence in the league. This will also help
control the division of BRI. The rookie contract request stems from the amount of rookies
who enter into the league and have excellent initial seasons. The rookies would then leave
their drafting teams to the highest bidder where they eventually help their new team
compete for a NBA Championship. The owners feel that the mandatory five-year rookie
contracts will allow the drafting team to get the better years out of the rookie before he
leaves for another team. Last, the owners feel that players are passing the drug tests,
but still enjoy alcohol and marijuana. They feel that these substances are just as
dangerous as heroin and cocaine and should not be tolerated.

On the other hand, the players have good reasons for their requests, which include:

 The continuation of the Larry Bird clause ("NBA Lockout…").

 More freedom in free agency ("NBA Players…")

 The ability to test their market - value ("NBA Players…").

 Salary scale that increases with tenure ("NBA Lockout…").

The players believe that the Larry Bird clause is essential. This clause allows players
the ability to remain with their original team. Many players like the current team that
they are playing for and wish to remain in the city where they started their career and
raised their families. The players would also like more freedom to move. Players whose
contracts expire would like the chance to test their market value instead of being trapped
into re-signing with their original team ("NBA Players…"). Last, too many players that
have endured the National Basketball Association for over ten years are making $500,000
while players who have two-year tenures make millions. This is not ethical and the
players' feel that it needs to be addressed ("NBA Players…").
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