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NBA Lockout - "Billy Left the Room"

Why did we let them get our hopes up to begin with?

Here's the thing: I spent the day covering the Pac-12 Basketball media day for SBNation Los Angeles. At the time I agreed to cover it a couple weeks ago, I figured I was going to need something to do during the NBA lockout. By this morning, I assumed that was happily not going to be the case, based on the positive news coming out of New York - all indications were that an agreement was imminent.

Driving back from downtown LA this afternoon, I was listening to Mason and Ireland on ESPN 710, something I usually try to avoid doing, but given the situation it seemed like I needed to bite the bullet and get caught up ASAP. In the car, I had the "pleasure" (please note ironic quotation marks) of listening to David Stern's press conference following the break down in today's talks.

In the big picture, it's perfectly legitimate to resolve all the lesser issues while leaving the big issue, in this case BRI, on the back burner. I have no problem with that in principle. I do however find it more than a little strange, after talks have already twice broken down over a supposed pre-condition of the acceptance of a 50-50 split, to get back together and remain entrenched at 50-50. Why not just stick with the pre-condition, if it is, well, you know, a pre-condition?

I am also completely flabbergasted at all of the leaked optimism over the last couple of days. Who are these league sources saying that they expected a handshake today? Did they know that Stern was going to stand fast at 50%, and if so, how on earth could they expect a handshake? The players refused to even meet last week when 50% was on the table. How exactly can a league source have an expectation of a deal if 50% is their final offer? Something doesn't add up.

I was particularly infuriated by one thing Stern said in his press conference. I'm not talking about "Billy left the room", which obviously will become the next big thing in this meme-ilicious lockout. No, it was this tidbit (I'm going to paraphrase because I was listening on the radio and I have not tracked down a video or a transcript yet to get the exact wording):

The players are also interested in revenue sharing, but it's impossible to revenue share when you're losing money, so we can't accept 52%.

That is a blatant misrepresentation. In fact, misrepresentation is way too nice a word. It's a lie, only it goes beyond that - it's really just nonsensiical. It's a little like saying "We can't do this because 2+2 does not equal 4." You can say it, but that doesn't make it true, and in fact it's patently, painfully, obviously false.

Revenue is not profit, which David Stern knows perfectly well. You might technically not be able to "profit share" if you're losing money, but of course you can revenue share. This whole idea that the owners must have guaranteed profits is the most ludicrous part of the entire lockout, and Stern's insidious attempts to make that position seem somehow noble by linking it to revenue sharing and competitive balance is beyond the pale. If the NBA had had more robust revenue sharing last season, then the Lakers would have made less money, while some of the other teams would have lost less money. The total would of course have remained the same, but it still would have been helpful to the low revenue, small market teams. Earlier in this process, Stern and Silver have used the line "You can't revenue share your way out of losses" which is true enough - but not really relevant. If we are to believe their numbers, the NBA certainly needs to lower their overall expenses or increase their overall revenues in order to make some money - but they also need revenue sharing from the rich teams to the poor teams, with or without a new CBA. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong.

At the end of the day, I am surprised and dismayed by the day's events. After spending a day as a college basketball blogger I can honestly tell you - that's not who I am. I'm a Clippers blogger. I need the Clippers. The thought that I'm going to be trying to care about UCLA and USC a month from now has me downright depressed.