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An Imperfect Union by Master Po

Due to a technical snaffu in tranferring todays 'Toine article, it will not be available. However, Master Po has penned some thoughts on the CBA that are relevant to the Celtics and how they potentially deal with 'Toine. Enjoy.

As you know, the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement ends at midnight on June 30th. If owners and the players union can't agree on new terms and thus put a new agreement in place, then the owners will lock the players out - no summer camps (Celtics need a summer camp - so stop the madness), no trades (Celtics need to make some trades - so stop the madness), and no free agent signings (is any free agent coming to Boston?). Doesn't anybody know, or care, that Celtic fans don't have time for this lockout crap? We are 20 years overdue with no time to waste. Stop this stupid stuff! I know it will be resolved at some point, but a lockout, even a small one, does nothing except hurt the game itself and the Celtics progress.

I am sure this rant will step on some toes no matter how I phrase it, so I might as well let it all out. Perhaps Jeff or Hagrid will send me, and my "cheap seat", back to the Shaolin Temple for an early shower. It won't be my first early shower. I don't want to simply say what you can read for yourself about the negotiations, but I had to get this off my chest.

My personal opinions of unions are generally quite low. I live in an area where machinist unions are very prevalent and they are driving jobs out of my area because they seem to not understand the word "compromise". Unions seem to have passed their prime/usefulness years ago, and often seem to protect nobody those who really should not be protected or don't need protecting. Unions seem to often protect the dumb, the lazy, and the undeserving. Please think of poor little Vinnie Baker when I say "the undeserving". Of course, the right to collectively bargain is legal in this country, so the NBA union has the perfect right to extract as much as they can from the NBA owners – at least until they shoot themselves in the foot. How you ask? A lockout with fans who lose interest thus driving down total revenue. The NBA players actually make less over time because they asked for too much - the word to remember is compromise. Does Ron Artest need to lose more money in 2005?

Billy Hunter, the players union Executive Director has already played the racism card so it has turned ugly at the 11th hour. Billy should read Red's book or Bill Russell's book about real racism. Disagreeing with someone does not make them a racist, or mean they the other side is using racist's tactics. Quit playing the damn race card when none exists - that almost makes you a racist Billy.

I am no Collective Bargain Agreement expert by any stretch. I am a neophyte compared to most. It is not reading material I have lying about in my Throne Room. Here is what I understand the five major points of contention to be, along with my Celtic rant on each:

  • Reduce the length of max contracts from the current 7 years (sign with same team) and 6 years (sign with a different team) down to 5 years. This would include reductions in raises each year. The players union opposes this strongly (actually the agents do as I understand it). Give me a break! Why would any player be afraid of this if he actually performs well under his employment contract? If a player is playing great at the end of five years everybody will want to resign you to another 5 years including your own team. Right? If you are not playing well (not earning your pay) why should you tie an owner for another two years of guaranteed pay you are not earning? What in the hell is magic about seven years? Agents don't like it because their piece would get smaller with smaller contract durations I guess. Players need more incentive to play hard every year anyway (hear me Mark Blount!!!) Nice job union for screwing up basic employment principals again.
  • Negotiating a raise in the percentage of basketball related income players receive. The owners have proposed 51% (a raise from 48%). Not sure I fully understand this issue entirely, but basically the players get more of the profit pie right? OK with me as long as you don't forget who pays the bills when things go south and the seats are empty. It's not the players paying the bills - it's the owners. Wyc and Co. have already invested huge sums of money (over $350 million I think) and I am sure they, like all owners, just love sharing revenue with players who don't really fill any seats, sell any souvenirs, can't rebound, sit and pout, threaten the coach, punch people in the stands or make rap CD's.
  • Setting up a minor league. - This is a great great idea to have put in the new agreement and apparently both sides agree it is a good idea. Is the union sick or something - they actually agree with a good idea? Maybe they missed this. There have been discussions about a system with NBA teams having a specific minor league team affiliate and player movement would permitted between that team and the NBA team. Being able to send one of your players down to the minor leagues for awhile but still keep him on your team for later is a long overdue idea for the NBA. I think the Celtic minor league team should be in Kansas and that is where the good ones come from anyway. Let Jo Jo White coach it.
  • Salary Cap Exceptions - There is four right? (1) The MLE, (2) the $1 million exception (actually 1.6 million,) (3) the minimum salary exception (4) and the Larry Bird exception. My only two comments are that there are too many friggin exceptions! (simplify it just like the tax code should be) and secondly our MLE last year was a waste anyway Googs! When was the last time the Celtics used the $1 million exception anyway? I have no idea - just curious.
  • Minimum Age Limit - I was all for this being raised to 20 years until I saw Al Jefferson play in summer league for the first. Then I knew my love for the Celtics easily outweighed any desire I had to protect the college game and keep young kids from HS from making mistakes. This is a tough issue, but if you can go fight in a war you should be able to play in the NBA if someone wants you. Damn! - did I just agree with the union????

    It's time to stop my union-bustin rant. Just get a new agreement Stern and Hunter and quit jacking round in the papers. COMPOMISE for the sake of the game. By the way, can you put into the new agreement that NBA League Pass channel next year has to advertise less and actually show more games with better announcers and that Fox Sports NE has to come up with new commercials each week? Now that would be an agreement worth signing.

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