SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday night, Jimmer Fredette sent condolences out after learning that his NBA rookie debut remained on hold and that regular-season games had been canceled due to the league's labor mess.
"First two weeks gone," Fredette wrote on Twitter. "Sorry everyone."
The former BYU star is hardly the only one lamenting the loss of real games, which NBA commissioner David Stern announced after a seven-hour meeting with the players' union failed to produce a new collective bargaining agreement.
From the sound of it, NBA games and a compromise between owners and players might be missing for the unforeseen future. To wit, Stern compared the sides' bargaining gap as a "gulf."
One hundred games overall, including eight for the Utah Jazz, were scrapped because the two sides disagree on a variety of labor issues — from the basketball revenue split, raise percentages, and contract lengths, to exceptions and salary cap structure.
The result of the impasse, according to the Associated Press, is an average of $1 million per canceled game for owners and an estimated $350 million per month in salaries for players.
Not to mention all NBA action for the league's fans from Nov. 1-14.
"The question is," one fan posed Tuesday on deseretnews.com, "will the fans miss those games?"
"A plague on both their houses," another sports fan wrote. "Let's watch hockey."
Other reader comments voiced concern for arena and concessions workers, suggested using replacement players, opined that the whole 82-game season should be canceled, groaned about "overpaid crybaby players" and the way Jazz ownership handled the Jerry Sloan retirement situation.
One disgruntled person said fans have "way better things to spend our time doing" than watching sports on TV, while another hoped sports lovers would turn their allegiances to local college teams.
One group that didn't receive much support in an unscientific Deseret News poll that asked who deserved the most blame for this impasse: NBA players. About 70 percent of 200-plus poll participants blamed the high-paid athletes over the wealthy owners.
Not everybody was anti-player, though. The pro-owner sentiment confused one reader, who wrote: "Would you limit your ability to make more money? Without the players, nobody would go to the stadiums. They are the product."
Jazz swingman C.J. Miles sent his 22,787 Twitter followers this message Tuesday from NBC basketball blogger Kurt Helin: "I don't really understand the argument that the millionaire players are 'greedy' but the billionaire owners are just doing business."
Utah's Gordon Hayward retweeted a post made by his dad, Scott Hayward, which read: "Owners claim $300M loss last yr. Players offered $120M cutting BRI from 57% to 53%. It's lockout, not strike. LET THEM PLAY! #StandUnited."
Owners and players have vowed to remain unified — though the NBA guys are not using hashmark messages on Twitter a la the players association — and both claim to have made big concessions.
Stern said owners agreed to allow guaranteed contracts, to not roll back salaries and to give players an option to shorten the CBA to a seven-year deal instead of 10. Players counter that they have agreed to accept 53 percent of all basketball related income (down from 57 percent but far from the owners' proposed 47 percent). They've also offered reductions in midlevel exception salaries and contract lengths. The latter remains one of the many divisions, though, because players have agreed to five-year deals for re-signing guys and four years for free agents compared to four- and three-year deals, respectively, wanted by owners.
One of the stickiest points, though, appears to be luxury tax fees.
If owners get their way, luxury tax fines could range from $1.75 to $10 for every dollar that teams exceed the threshold compared to a current dollar-per-dollar fee, Sports Illustrated reported.
Owners believe that will keep spending under check and make for a more balanced and competitive league, but players insist it closely resembles a hard cap they vehemently oppose.
"It's still as close as you can get, if not a hard cap," National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said.
Despite the commissioner's warning that more games are at risk of being canceled with each passing day, the players and owners have not agreed to hold more formal work meetings.
Small-market locations like Salt Lake City could be affected most adversely by a prolonged lockout, and especially if it lasts until February, as happened in the last work stoppage in the shortened, 50-game 1998-99 season.
A Marriott hotel in downtown Salt Lake City took a cancellation of about 40 rooms booked by the Memphis Grizzlies for Nov. 2, according to an Associated Press report. The hotel reportedly makes between $5,000 and $10,000 for each of the Jazz's 41 home games, the City Center sales and marketing director claimed.
And other restaurants, parking lots and businesses in the vicinity of EnergySolutions Arena will also feel the pain, no doubt. That impact has already begun to happen, considering Utah's first home preseason game was scheduled for tonight against Oklahoma City.
The eight-game preseason schedule, however, became a lockout casualty last month when Stern canceled the entire exhibition season.
"All I can think about, and I'm not trying to sound like I'm on my soapbox here, but all I can think about are the thousands and thousands of arena, team and hospitality employees that are now going to be out of work," Andrew Feinstein, a bar owner and season ticket holder in Denver, told the Associated Press. "I thought the owners and players had an obligation to work this thing out while continuing to play the game, given the dire economic circumstances that are taking place in our country right now."10 comments on this story
Like Jimmer, Fisher expressed his disappointment about the development. The ex-Jazz guard tried to rally social media support in recent days by suggesting NBA players tweet out "LET US PLAY" and #StandUnited.
"This is a big blow obviously to our fans, most importantly," Fisher said. "They don't have a voice in this fight so far, but we hear them loud and clearly. They want basketball, we want to play basketball, and we're going to do the responsible thing and try our best to bring them basketball as soon as we possibly can."
Contributing: Associated Press
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