Learn Politics and History

The Labor Struggle You Wouldn’t Expect

All over the world, many labor fights have been going on, and unions are very much struggling. However, there is also a more upper class labor dispute happening in a place you wouldn’t imagine – the NBA. 

Today, the NBA has officially petitioned for a hard cap. A hard cap – which would limit the amounts of money teams could spend on their players, has been used in multiple other sports leagues such as the NFL. Instead, the NBA uses the luxury cap. This system basically says that NBA teams can pay their players a certain amount, but if they pay more, they will get fined a pretty heavy amount. 

However, many (relatively) poorer owners and owners in small market area’s (such as Utah and Oklahoma) say that this isn’t fair. These owners believe that they are disadvantaged because due to the fact they are in a small market team which might not make the most revenue, and because their owners might not be as rich as others. While you may side with small market owners on this issue, some NBA owners have a different stance. 

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, among others have a different take. Both Ballmer and Lacob have team’s based in big markets (San Francisco and LA, respectively). Furthermore both teams have had success in the recent past, with the Warriors winning four championships, and the Clippers becoming a real threat in the NBA, after being considered a joke just a few years ago. And both teams have become successful in the same way.

While Steve Ballmer is worth 85 billion dollars, and can use his money at will to lure players, Warriors owner Joe Lacob has a more refined reason. See, Lacob is one of the poorer owners in the league (worth 1.5 billion dollars), and argues vehemently against a hard cap, or even a luxury tax. Lacob argues that because he drafted most key players in the 2022 Warriors championship run (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole) the salaries for those players should not be factored into the salary cap, let alone a hard cap.

But in these negotiations, there’s one other group that’s not been factored in – the players. The players have quite a solid stance on this issue – no hard cap. Basically, a hard cap would put a limit on how much teams could spend on players, which would make players salaries go down. 

So what will happen? Well, the NBA players association is one of the most powerful labor unions in the world, and if this struggle continues on, a lockout, or a temporary closing of the NBA, may happen for the first time since 2011.

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