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BLITZER'S BLOG: This NBA fan’s outrage
October 11th, 2011
01:02 PM ET

BLITZER'S BLOG: This NBA fan’s outrage

By CNN's Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) – Full disclosure up front: I’ve been a Washington Wizards season ticket holder for years. My two good seats at the Verizon Center cost me a lot of money. But it’s worth it. I love watching NBA games. I also travel to the NBA All-Star game weekend nearly every year.

But that only explains a small part of why I am so deeply disappointed that millionaire players and billionaire owners can’t reach an agreement to simply play the game. They’ve already canceled their entire preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.

I don’t feel badly for the players or the owners at all.

The players – sometimes even marginal ones who often sit on the bench – make millions of dollars for six to eight months work. At a time of severe economic hardship around the country with very high unemployment, I can’t worry about players who make $700,000 a year or $7 million a year. These are enormous salaries.

There are tens of millions of people around the country who are simply struggling to put food on the table.

The owners are very wealthy, and I can’t feel sorry for them, even though the NBA says 22 of the league’s 30 teams lose money. They can afford to lose money. Many of them bought teams knowing they would lose money.

But I do feel sorry for the fans, many of whom will simply get fed up with the NBA and will turn to college basketball and other sports for their entertainment.

And I feel especially sad when I think of all the hard-working employees who work at the arenas or in nearby neighborhoods; people who sell popcorn or beer at the stadiums; people who work at the restaurants and bars. These people can’t afford to lose a season, especially during these tough economic times. Thousands of them are about to lose their jobs.

These are the people I worry most about.

It’s simply ridiculous that the owners and the players can’t figure out a fair way to split $4 billion in revenue and play ball.

RELATED: Could the entire NBA season be in jeopardy?

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soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Mary

    I agree. The next thing the occupy Wall Street group should protest is professional sports. Although I like watching some sports, their salaries are riduculous. Just play! You make enough money. Of course, sports fans do support
    the teams. Maybe that needs to change.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  2. rheapdx1

    Here is something to consider: if this were any other business where a MAJORITY of its outlets were losing money, those outlets would either have their management changed or...they would be closed. I realize that the latter of the two mentioned cannot be done due to the fact that this would cause a major economic hardship in the cities that the losing operations call home. HOWEVER the problems with those teams did not happen overnight. These were the outgrowths of an insane salary structure and a revenue distribution system that makes no sense, unless it is in bizarro world. Also the NBA due to some who are involved in same...as far as players are concerned would make those who were in the old ABA almost look like choirboys by comparison [ there were several articles in Newsweek, as well as documentaries to that effect] which in turn makes it seem as though the absurd pay structure is rewarding bad behavior. So for all the good that does happen because of an NBA franchise in some cities, perhaps a year off for the league to evaluate and reconsider what it is about is not a bad thing. PLUS this could give the owners and players pause, due to the fact that this is and looks like two groups of spoiled brats complaining about special marbles on the asphalt while the rest of the country is building 'hoovervilles'.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  3. Mel

    So many years ago I began to hate pro sports – for just this reason. It is no longer about the love of the game and the sport. It is about money, endorsement deals and bigger than life reputations. There are hundreds of decent athletes who would gladly play in the pros, for a fraction of what these prima donnas want, because they love the game. And then all the other people who are in minimum wage jobs, struggling to get by, would be able to keep their jobs that are in jeapordy because of this strike.

    So long NBA, I could care less. You can take your ball and get off of my playground.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  4. sbamk

    It's not so much of either side being greedy. The fact is, we the fans are the ones that throw a lot of money into the NBA pay. What they're essentially fighting over is who gets how big a piece of it. So if either side conceded to the other, it wouldn't make it (financially) better for any of us. They'd simply allow the others to take a larger share of NBA revenues that they'd rather have for themselves. The real losers though are the non-NBPA employees of the franchises who will miss a lot of work, especially if their arenas aren't able to book events to make up for a lost season.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  5. Pasofino

    The fashionable approach to lock outs appears to be that both sides are at fault. I don't think so. As the recession deepened, the owners refused to talk during the entire run-up to the expiration date for the contract. They gambled that the economy would get worse, attendance would go down and viewership would stay flat or decrease. They explained that they had lost money in 2009 and that, based on the 2009 trends, they expected to lose more in 2010. They told the players the income would be down and they the players should be ready to refund money for 2010.
    They owners lost their bet. Attendance was up, viewership of the playoffs and finals was at an all-time high and league income increased. Nonetheless, the owners demanded the percentage of income (not a true gross, but a modified gross) paid to the players be reduced from 57% to 47%. Before the lock-out, the players offered to reduce to 53%. The owners will not agree to anything until last week when they took the position they would not agree to anything more than 50% coupled with a hard cap and the elimination of all existing exceptions to the cap. The players have indicated they would go as low as 51-52% without a hard salary cap (the agents are freaking out at this, but mostly at the prospect of a hard cap and the elimination of exceptions – another story)
    Meanwhile, two low-end franchises sold for record amounts of money.
    The owners still claim they lost money. However, as the McCourts showed, the numbers, which are a modified gross anyway, don't tell the true story. I have no sympathy for the owners. They do nothing. Most are businessmen who have made serious money doing other things. Some are almost basketball illiterate. They offer nothing. They get loans and gifts from local governments and, despite insane business practices, increase the value of their basketball asset on a yearly basis. The players provide the action and entertainment. The most successful owners have known this for years and run their teams accordingly. Now, they want the players to give back almost $500 million dollars. They want the union to fix their idiotic trade, draft and contract decisions by installing a hard cap and forbidding all owners from paying more to those they think are true superstars than would be allowed under the cap. The NBA players are the best at what they do in the world. Basketball is a world sport now. The cache from owning an NBA team is enormous. The owners are idiots.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  6. MK54

    This NBA lockout is just super rich owners and overpaid players taking jobs away from regular people. The owner's goal is to stuff their deep pockets with even more money, the players wish to continue living large. The small time scoundrels in society go to prison, the big time scoundrels can be found in stadium and arena suites.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  7. Landru

    Liek the old addage "you don't know what you have until it's gone", I hope they stay out. Everyone here agrees that we have the rich and the richer bitching about percentages. They have all forgotten from whence they came. The all feel "Entitled". It's the same as our government really. They can't possible do what is right for us because they dont have to live like us.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  8. jeff

    Millionaires and billionaires fighting over money? Sounds like Wall Street. You know the working man is about full of that chicken dung. Let them rot.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  9. Thomas, Baton Rouge, LA

    I do have sympathy for all of the auxiliary workers. But the NBA season is waaaay too long anyway. A full season of sloppy playing, and half get into the "playoffs" anyway. It's stupid. Best to make it just a season long round-robin tournament.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Thomas, Baton Rouge, LA

      and I just wrote "anyway" too many times.

      anyway....

      October 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  10. Jimbo

    NBA, the least professional – professional sport there is. The thug culture ruined it long ago, our pros couldn't even win the Olympics in 2004 when we put together an all star team. Maybe if they actually played the sport instead of trying to support their image people would actually care. Sorry about the people who aren't working because of the selfish thug culture.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  11. Scott

    Seems nobody can meet in the middle anymore. Whatever happened to a good compromise? – you know, where both sides are disappointed but get something out of the deal and move on.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  12. Hasselhoff

    I'm guessing once the players start missing their thousands of dollar paychecks , they will reconsider, it's all about greed, people like Dewayne Wade, Lebron James, Kobe, they all make millions, it gets old. I'm tired of hearing about people making millions when I myself can barely pay rent. I've already have given up on the NBA unless they come up with a remainder of the season, which is doubtful they will lose more fans. I have never been a huge college Basketball fan but I'm about to start. I'll know the teams just like I know the NBA teams. I won't watch the NFL. Soccer is good but I can't get into it as much as Football. Hockey might be an alternative as well. My home town of Portland, Oregon, thrives on the NBA, while the Trail Blazers are an up and coming team it's going to be sad to think they all might be out of jobs too. But join the rest of the world.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  13. MadFan

    After reading this article I’m starting to think that neither the league, owners or even the player’s have a right to that $4 billion dollar dispute. I’m starting to think that this amount of money needs to be handed over to the government to help pay off some of our economic hardships. Us it to help pay off a little of the national dept or us it to fund some needed government program’s. But bottom line that money should not be allowed to be fought over by the league, the owners or even the over paid player’s that get paid to play a grown mans game.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  14. VJ

    I have never paid for a sporting event and do not plan to do so anytime in the future. These players and owners are overpaid and worthless. Basketball may be fun to watch as entertainment but its defintely not worth the $150-200 per seat, or hell even the $30 per seat. Thats why I do not even pay for cable. I watch all my TV for free using streaming websites, and download my movies in HD for free. The players and actors are overpaid for doing a job that is close to meaningless. And worse of all, there are many "fans" that act ridiculous as if you are meeting a god and supporting these exhorbant salaries. The people that should be paid millions are the ones risking their lives (ie soldiers, fire, and police), not these clowns (actors, players) who act like the world owes them. If people stop going to games and buying merchandise, stop paying $10 for a movie and download them instead, we will see prices drop very quickly.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Don

    What we need to do is boycott–not only the NBA, but pretty much every other professional sport. And, not only in person, but write to the television sponsors and tell them we won't buy their products if they continue to advertise on sports. These salaries are ridiculous, as is the cost to attend a pro event!

    Let's see, the President of the US makes $400k a year (plus, plus), and some of these guys are making $20MM a year? Where is our sense of balance? And, I'm not suggesting paying the President more!

    October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Goodguy1

    Who cares...Around 20% of the working-age adult population in this country has no job. The players and owners argue about a million here or there. Who cares about professional sports anymore... $100.00 for parking, $150.00 for a ticket. Hot Dogs $10.00 etc.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  17. Piranha

    This began when some owner said, my player is better than yours and so on and it escalated from there, now the monsters they've created is threatening to devour them, and the little people servicing these brats are the ones affected, because now they're out of a job, while we fans who fuels all this so called spectacles can no longer be entertained by lackluster performances these gladiators give. I'm leaving.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  18. PulTab

    They can cancel the NBA forever as far as i'm concerned.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  19. Keith

    The taxpayers foot the bill to construct the stadiums by being taxed to pay off the bonds that are floated to finance them. The owners do nothing but spend a few hours arguing over how much they get paid by the TV companies. The players then earn obscene salaries for playing a stupid, pointless game. This dispute between owners and players is nothing but two pirate fleets arguing over how to split the loot. D*mn all of them.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  20. Mark B.

    NBA players – go to Europe, stay. Your season is 50 games too long anyway. Everybody makes the playoffs, too.
    You are giving credibility to the WNBA!

    October 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  21. capcity

    so what will the unemployed basketball fans fill their time watching now, nada since the fat cat tax writing-off owners and spoiled, treat me special, players got greedy! But remember, just like on wall street, just like the bozos on Capitol Hill, we the public had a large hand in creating this mess by supporting them over the years with $ from our pockets.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  22. Firstly

    People still watch basketball?

    October 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  23. acidrainbw

    they are complaining about losing money so bad but yet they canceled 2 weeks of games so far? lets see, the Garden hols 19763 seat max and even if all of those seats sell at their average price of $88 each, that would be $1,739,144.00 out of their pockets each night the Garden is closed and thats if all the seats were low balled and does not take into account any vendor sales from food and other crap we the people pay to watch these games

    October 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  24. Jean Sartre, Milwaukee, WI

    IF the fans were and still are willing to support these people who run up and down a basketball court, by paying $30.00 to $25,000 and more for various different seating arrangements in an arena, then I guess, that leaves the very average fan, that would be me, to really wonder what is wrong with these fans.

    We support a millionaire and billionaire life style for these folks and complain bitterly when they do not play and take our hard-earned money; that really makes a lot of sense to me.

    I am sort of with the Wolf man here: "And I feel especially sad when I think of all the hard-working employees who work at the arenas or in nearby neighborhoods; people who sell popcorn or beer at the stadiums; people who work at the restaurants and bars."

    I have only gone to an actual arena twice, never purchased any league apparel, and, as a result of all of this massive stupidity, never will.

    College basketball is good enough for me... no more support for these millionaires and billionaires...

    October 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  25. Adnank

    Wolf,

    The NBA is where I can totally agree with the side where players need to be willing to give a little bit. NBA players make a lot and generally when they retire they aren't plagued by health problems the rest of their lives, since basketball injuries are less consequential later in life and and the basketball build is more "ideal" in terms of health.

    The people in the NFL are the ones I feel for, NFL teams are 5 times the size and the non-star players don't get payed much, 700,000$ for the 3 years on average a player plays looks nice, but that's it. Health care is a huge cost for these guys and more often than not their money is gone before they have the rest of their life planned out. Yet the NFL lockout ended without loss of games?

    October 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  26. Ep Sato

    Wolf- I'm also a DC resident, so I have to ask: Why season tickets to the Wizards? Over the last 10 years, the team's only been to the playoffs 3 times and has been pretty lousy to watch (even with Michael Jordan on the team). Nevermind that Milwaukee rejected Ernie Gruenfeld has somehow managed to keep his job despite bringing in nothing to the team.

    The NBA lost me when they did their shortened season in '99. I'd been a diehard until then, watching the triple headers on NBC every Sunday especially during the playoffs. Now I can barely take the time for the finals.

    Too much arrogance and too much influence of money's created a league where guys only show up to play for the post season, don't practice and don't seem to care about fundamentals. Why dribble when you can take six steps during a drive?

    Thankfully, Washingtonians will get to see REAL sports action in the District this fall. The Caps continue to thrill, and local boxer Lamont Peterson will be fighting for the world championship in the Convention Center come December.

    'Skins fans can keep their overrated team in Maryland, and I won't miss the Wizards if they don't play at all. DC fans have plenty of entertainment options that don't involve this bottom of the barrel team of millionaire whiner miscreants.

    Have fun playing NBA.... at home on your xbox suckers!

    October 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  27. GeorgeBos95

    Wolf:

    Who cares if they play or not. It's one pack of super-rich vs. another, both sides competing to see for a trophy awarded to "The greediest".

    Besides, too many of the NBA players like to think they're "gangstas".

    Screw 'em all.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  28. Craig from Pa.

    Who really cares? Basketball is the least of a lot of peoples concerns.....it is ridiculous the amount of money these clowns make....and really stupid that people spend so much to go watch it!!!

    October 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  29. CCCP

    I agree with everyone that NBA players and owners make way too much money and need to come back to earth. But the thing is at the end its still a business. Any rich businessman would not give up millions of dollars just because morally its right thing to do. These people still have principles, if owners make trillion of dollars off of players, then the players want what they deserve. If you work at Mcdonalds and your manager sees a huge sales increase since you started working there, you would probably ask for a raise or you walk. And guess what your manager will give you a raise. There is nothing different here with these players, but they are on a different level from us Mcdonalds workers.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  30. whocares

    Who cares... There's life with no NBA.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  31. CmonNow11

    You, the fans of these money-grubbing sports (baseball, basketball, football), have made them what they are, and you all deserve to lose a couple of seasons of your respective favorite...

    October 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  32. masonjarjar

    They need to call Stephen Covey. they need a 3rd Alternative..

    October 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  33. HJA

    I watch no sports and buy no sports affliated product. I do not go to games and have no intention of starting to do so. I listened to two fools going off about state and teachers unions and how terrible they are. Next minute it was hooray the NFL is back to playing. Teachers making 60K a year is bad but 4Mill a year is OK for playing sports!

    October 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  34. Justified

    C'mon give me a break! We are trying our best to resolve this issue as expeditiously as possible. I had to give up a month's vacation at my exclusive island for this. I will be glad when it is all over, play resumes, all the fans fill the stands ... and I laugh all the way to the bank!

    October 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  35. Ted Perlman

    They should do like in that movie "The Replacements" – get a bunch of talented and 'never made the' NBA players to play games. People would definitely come. With all the street ball players around, it would be even more exciting that the actual NBA spoiled brat players.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  36. Dean

    The owners are very wealthy, and I can’t feel sorry for them, even though the NBA says 22 of the league’s 30 teams lose money. They can afford to lose money. Many of them bought teams knowing they would lose money.

    They can afford to lose money is what got the country in the shape it is in. We have been affording to lose money while supporting others for so long that we may njever get out of debt.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  37. Bill

    Fire Mr. Stern. Give the $4 billion or so to the Navy Relief Society and play the games. Think about the people that work hard to provide food and beverages at the arenas. They need the basketball season.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
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