Basketball franchise owners and players might be spurred into agreeing a new collective bargaining agreement after a poll revealed that 76 percent of Americans are getting along fine without the NBA.
The start of the 2011/12 NBA season has been delayed due to the dispute between the warring parties over how to distribute the league’s revenues with the whole of Novembers fixtures cancelled. However, the news that fans are increasingly ambivalent about the sport could hasten proceedings.
Polling company Poll Position released the results of its telephone survey seven days after the scheduled start of the season on November 1.
The respondents, a random sample of 1,179 registered voters nationwide, were asked: “With one week of no NBA basketball, do you find yourself missing the games?”
Overall, 76 percent said they weren’t missing NBA games, 12 percent were and 12 percent did not have an opinion.
The months-old dispute has already caused the NBA to cancel all of the games scheduled for November.
NBA commissioner David Stern has said it would take a month to get games on court once a deal is done.
Talks at the weekend failed to bring the sides together on the issue of how to divide about $4 billion in revenue.
Stern indicated on Sunday that the league’s latest offer to give players up to 51 percent of basketball related income as part of a new collective contract would expire by Wednesday.
After that, the offer could drop to 47 percent for players — who in turn were irked by what they called an ultimatum.
Prior to Saturday, the owners had offered a 50-50 split of basketball related income while players, who made 57 percent in the contract that expired July 1, have been unwilling to accept less than 52.5 percent, resulting in a $100 million annual income gap.
Players’ union officials said Sunday that the latest league offer, in which players would receive 49-51 percent of basketball related income depending on revenue growth, would almost certainly leave them at a 50-50 split.
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant, playing at a charity game organized by Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge on Sunday night, said the players felt they’d been backed into a corner by owners “doing their best to make us look like the bad guy.”
Durant said he had heard from fans via Twitter who are “getting upset about it”.
But it would be more damaging to the league long-term if fans just don’t care.
According to the Poll Position survey, which was conducted on Sunday, those aged 18-29 miss the NBA the most with 29 percent saying they are missing the games, while 53 percent said they weren’t and 18 percent had no opinion.
Among 30-44-year-olds, 83 percent said they didn’t miss NBA basketball.