The recently announced National Basketball Association financial deal is a slam dunk for the owners.
That’s not something you’re going to hear stated much, if at all, in the corporate media here, but the announced deal will decrease the player’s take of basketball related income from 57 to 51 percent. Some estimate that’s about $240 million less for players and $240 million more annually for owners, which would include local businessman Clay Bennett, who leads the Oklahoma City Thunder ownership group, Professional Basketball Club, LLC.
Did the league and owners manipulate the corporate sports media into depicting the NBA players as overpaid, prima donnas who make too much money for doing nothing more than playing a game? If so, it worked, but the larger issue here is the collective bargaining deal serves as a stark reminder that management is in control and labor remains all-too subservient across the social spectrum in the country.
The players do make a lot of money, but the NBA simply wouldn’t exist in its present form without the honed talents of its players. Some people argue that NBA dispute was just an immoral, out-of-touch argument between spoiled millionaires, and that might be so on one level, but it’s still a loss for labor and a win for management, a microcosm of contemporary America.
Why in the world would anyone want Bennett to make more money and not, say, Thunder franchise player Kevin Durant? It perplexes me. No one goes to Oklahoma City’s taxpayer-funded arena to watch Bennett play basketball, do they?
But at least we’re going to have some type of NBA season, right?
One could make the argument that at least Bennett is a local product with the city’s best interests at heart, and that the players, including Durant and Russell Westbrook, have no real allegiance or commitment to the Oklahoma City area, but does anyone really think Bennett wouldn’t sell the Thunder if the price was right or if he needed to dump the team because it was losing money?
As an apparent reminder of how just spoiled and pampered the Thunder players are, NewsOK.com published a list of their annual salaries just as the deal was announced. The salaries total around $56 million or so. What’s missing from the list, though, is how much the Thunder has netted in revenues during the time it has played here and its overall expenditures. Why couldn’t NewsOK.com publish that information? How much is Bennett worth these days?
We know the team netted $46 million in ticket sales in 2009 and probably more last year. Each team is allotted about $31 million annually from the NBA TV contract, according to a media report. Local television revenues, according to one article, could probably net another $8 to $12 million, if not more. Then there are the concessions, the merchandise, corporate sponsorships and, oh yeah, the state tax breaks and whatever the team can write off in a federal corporate tax code that privileges protecting the wealthy over hard work.
The point is not that the Thunder organization shouldn’t make a healthy profit. It should, and the organization’s finances should be stable in the long-term as well. But let me be clear: This was a case in which owners/management bullied and demanded, not the other way around. The workers/players knew they would be facing a cut; it came down to how much. It’s an immorality tale that resonates throughout our culture right now. Labor gets demonized and loses, the fat cats get even more money and people cheer. Thunder up.