NBA Owners vs. the National Basketball Players Association: A Communication Battle

8 Oct

If on November 1st the NBA regular season doesn’t begin due to the lockout between the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), millions of fans will be deprived of the sport they love. Instead of enjoying basketball, fans this year have now been brought into the union battle between the players and the NBA. Why a settlement hasn’t been reached yet boils down to a business communication issue. Now with the start of the season quickly approaching, both sides are trying to effectively communicate their problems and demands.

Economics of the NBA

NBA salaries are no joke. Ranging anywhere from half a million dollars to the tens of millions a year per player, money shouldn’t seem like an issue. Still, economics is always a balancing game between owners and players. Both sides depend on each other, but still want the most personal gain.

Compromise through Communication

Through joint meetings where both sides communicate their economic demands and expectations, the NBPA and team owners attempt to negotiate with each other to create a collective bargaining agreement. When a compromise is reached through effective and open communication tactics, the league works beautifully and the fans get to enjoy the games. However, this year is a clear example of poor communication between the two sides. The union, headed by president and point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers Derek Fisher, is unable to convince the owners to agree to their demands. Along the same lines, the owners are unable to convince the players why their stance is good for profitability and the league as a whole. Unless compromise can be reached through effective and persuasive communication on either side, it seems as though the season may never start.

Unified Stand

Under the leadership of Derek Fisher, players have not backed down to the demands of the owners. Instead, they seem more unified than ever as a result of the persuasive communication skills Fisher possesses. In the most recent message sent by Fisher to the NBA players, he reiterated the fact that the NBPA stands united and fights for the demands it feels are necessary and fair. In this message he assures the players that whatever the NBPA is fighting for “is the best deal for you and your fellow players” and prods players to “educate yourself, ask questions, do it all” to ensure they are getting the fair deal. Without Fisher’s consistent internal communication, the union may fall apart or easily give in to the owners.

Open Communication and Information

Fisher stated that he and the rest of the NBPA are “remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from.” This message communicates to the owners the strength of the union. The union is willing to compromise but is not willing to completely give in. Owners must do a better job at communicating their needs and the reasons behind those needs. The players still feel misinformed by the league and this lack of communication is creating this rift between the owners and the NBPA. Until both sides can effectively communicate their areas of contention, a compromise cannot be reached.

by Sasi Aradyula


3 Responses to “NBA Owners vs. the National Basketball Players Association: A Communication Battle”

  1. Shiv Bery October 9, 2011 at 2:23 am #


    As a huge NBA fan, I enjoyed your analysis of the NBA lockout and think that your explanation could help some people understand the situation. I completely agree with you that communication is the main problem that is causing the lockout. Let’s hope that the season will not be cancelled!


  2. Gregory Porter October 11, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Great post! I read this right after seeing that the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the season. Unfortunately, the owners are making communication difficult and this is leading to the issues you discussed in your blog. As you and Shiv mentioned, effective communication is the only way this will get resolved. Additionally, the media blowing up every step of the process also leads to many communication issues because people are afraid to speak their minds.


  3. Timothy Wang October 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm #


    A very good post detailing the problems of the NBA’s current bargaining issues! My QBA group is actually basing our term paper on NBA player salary and I find this topic extremely interesting.

    You’re absolutely right, the player’s unity behind Fisher is very strong and together they are remaining steadfast in their demands. Unfortunately, the owners have remained adamant in their demands as well (thus the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season as Greg mentioned above). However, unlike the NFL, the majority of the NBA owners are losing money during the season, and while the NFL’s negotiations dealt with how they should split the profits, the NBA’s owners are focusing on how they can turn their investments in the team into profitable ones. Therefore, they too, are unlikely to budge very much in their demands.

    Given this dire economic situation the NBA and its players are facing, if Fisher & Co. continue to refuse to agree with their employers, it looks like many of our favorite players will be playing their next basketball seasons overseas.


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