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Talkin' with Trav: Time for NBA players to wake up and strike deal

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 10:33 a.m. MDT

Editor's note: This is the first of a bimonthly blog by former BYU basketball standout and NBA player Travis Hansen.

Our ultra-athletic, 6-foot-11 center strutted in from the street in the middle of my first practice as a rookie member of the 2007-08 Atlanta Hawks. My new teammate, a 10-year veteran and team co-captain, wore a T-shirt featuring some local rapper, sweats and a sparkling $50,000 Rolex. Our coach instructed him to go change for practice. Imagine my reaction when my teammate, one of the best players on the team, replied, "You can kiss my (expletive)."

"Welcome to the NBA, Travis," I thought to myself.

That was the moment I realized these guys were spoiled. Players in the National Basketball Association are some of the most gifted, hard-working athletes on the planet, but over the years the NBA has created a monster by giving them too much. So I was not really surprised when the NBA announced that the entire preseason and first two weeks of the regular-season schedule were scrapped because owners and players are still fighting, going public with negotiations, and criticizing each other's every move.

To put the NBA lockout into perspective, the current situation is similar to a company that has hired dynamic, talented people with incredible skills. The company pays these employees an especially generous salary with superb benefits. Over several years, the owners gradually pay these amazing employees more and more money until one year the employees even receive 57 percent of all the profits, in addition to their salary and benefits. While vacationing aboard their yachts, the owners come to realize they have the worst labor management contract in the whole industry. They are losing money. The employees have exorbitant amounts of money. The owners are embarrassed. To fix the problem they must increase profits and regain control. Can you imagine a business doing this? A drastic change in the system overnight would spark an epic war in any company.

Another example. The NBA lockout is like parents giving their kids everything they ever wanted: cars, money, houses, mansions, private planes, even new shoes every day for years. Then one day the parents decide the kids have too much and suddenly want to impose severe restrictions. You know the kids would fight back, yell, scream and declare to the world their parents are the worst. It would be a blockbuster battle for both sides to compromise in reaching an agreement.

In the previous collective bargaining agreement, the players were guaranteed 57 percent of all basketball-related income. The NBA has demanded a 50/50 revenue split in order to receive $350 million off the top, plus 50 percent of all revenue for expense provisions. Those numbers sound off the charts, but $350 million is small change when you consider the billions in revenue they have been fighting over.

Players have countered with a proposal of a 53-47 split, but the NBA said no because that 3 percent represents a gap of about $120 million.

Players have all the power in the NBA. They do what they want and practice when they want. There are very few rules to control them. Last season's league MVP Derek Rose blames the owners.

"It's sad. It's very sad," Rose said of the lockout on ESPN.com. "Everybody knows it's not our fault. It's definitely not our fault. If it were up to us, we'd be out there playing. But I think that it's wrong. I know (the owners) can easily take care of it and not take advantage of people. But I guess that's how people are.

"(The owners are) not thinking about anything we're saying. They're not taking it into consideration, nothing that we're trying to give them. We'll just have to see how it goes."

What does this lockout mean for the neglected fans? Ghost-town arenas. Useless season tickets. Lost jobs and economic impact. No Jimmer. All fans see is the selfishness amid the standoff between players and owners. Players don't understand why they should give up what they have been receiving their whole careers. Owners want to rejuvenate their franchises and hold on to their money.

Parting thoughts: Today's spoiled NBA players need to wake up and strike a deal before they upset the owners even more than they already have. Don't worry guys, you still have the best deal in all of professional sports, no matter how this works out. But we all lose if the season is cancelled.

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