It’s looking more evident than ever before that the National Basketball Association will be cancelling the third and fourth weeks of the season this week after cancelling the first two weeks last week. Fans hoping for action on the NBA lines will have to wait and face the stark reality of a potentially dark 2011-12 season.

Both the NBA Players Union led by Billy Hunter and the NBA owners led by Commissioner David Stern are in “take it or leave it” mode. For the players to think that the owners are not united, despite the disparity in the league, would be a major mistake. The owners seem determined to break the union and get the revenue split down from 57/43 in the players favor to an even 50/50, even if it means cancelling the season. For handicappers who are used to tipoff time in early November these are the darkest of days.

A key player on the owner’s side is Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen, who operates a relatively small market franchise. Allen has been adamant about getting the revenue split down to 50/50 even though his personal wealth is so huge that he could bankroll the entire NBA several times over. This is a clear sign that NBA owners may have vastly different markets and agendas but that they share the common theme of the necessity of slashing expenses and player compensation.

Right now the NBA is all about the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat and while that may make ESPN happy, the owners realize that in order to have the strongest circuit possible they need 30 vibrant franchises with a legitimate shot at winning the title. The National Football League and National Hockey League have set the standard for competitive balance that the NBA wants to follow. All one has to do is look at the horrible ratings for the baseball post season to see what happens to a sport that is dominated by large market teams. Betting the NBA lines has been all about “name brand” teams in recent seasons.

The NBA owners have impressed even their harshest critics with this rare show of unity. It is obvious they are determined to remake the NBA’s structure. What is not as clear is what their ultimate final vision is or the road map to get there.


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