CHICAGO – The NBA owners contend that they will suffer an estimated $300 million in combined losses for this 2011-12 season. The players’ union believes that number is significantly smaller, owning to alternative accounting methods. Both sides remain far apart overall in negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement, fanning fears of an extended labor lockout after the current pact expires June 30.
So, NBA commissioner David Stern was asked Wednesday, what level of financial losses would the league find acceptable? The question got a swift rebuke from Stern.
“We’re not going to lose any money,” Stern said. “I’m not going to be commissioner of a league that is comfortable [losing money]. Because I don’t have a group of owners who find it acceptable for me to have that conversation with them.
“You don’t have $4 billion worth of revenue and pay out over $2 billion in salary and benefits to lose money. It’s something that we have sort of gotten used to as the revenues have gone up … but the world has changed about the prospect for all franchises, the world has changed for a lot of reasons – and economically – and now people who make investments in buildings and things expect not to lose money.”
Stern was in town to formally present the NBA Most Valuable Player Award to Chicago’s Derrick Rose before tipoff of Game 2 of the Bulls-Hawks playoff series at United Center. In meeting with reporters, Stern declined to respond to reports that the union was unhappy with the owners’ latest proposal, delivered last week.
He did expound more freely on Rose and one reporter’s mention in the same sentence of Rose and Michael Jordan. Not that Stern was in a comparing mood.
“I do know that he is the youngest MVP, that he deserves the award that he’s getting tonight, he had a heckuva season and he’s a heckuva teammate,” the commissioner said. “So you can check it all off – he’s a heck of a player.
“If we can keep him healthy, he’s going to have some career. And there are a lot of players who would like him not have this trophy next year.”