The NBA just finished a season of high television ratings and is coming off an incredible playoff run and one of the most intriguing NBA finals series in years.
Now comes the hard part.
With the league appearing stronger than ever, the NBA and its players are about to enter into a messy labor dispute when the current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30. A lockout is certain to follow July 1.
If you thought the current NFL lockout was bad, wait until this one begins to unfold. The owners are lobbying for significant financial changes that seem necessary for the mid to smaller franchises to survive.
The NBA owners are claiming 22 of 30 teams will lose a combined $300 million this season. So to offset the losses they want some major concessions. The players could be facing major changes in pay structure if the owners and commissioner David Stern get their way.
The league wants more of a hard salary cap to prevent the exceptions that now allow teams to exceed the cap. The owners also want to reduce the length of contracts and lessen the guaranteed contracts.
It appears the two sides are far apart on any agreement, which likely means this will get nasty and the start of the 2011-12 season could be seriously threatened. The last time the NBA experienced labor strife was during the 1998-99 season when the regular-season schedule was reduced to 50 games.
It honestly seems as though things are heading that way again as both sides prepare to dig in.
(Photo: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)