My 'Two Cents'
October 31, 2011

Like October into November, the sports calendar is supposed to be turning. It's worked out in recent years that as soon as the World Series ends, NBA basketball begins. But Tuesday night, instead of watching the Dallas Mavericks raise their championship banner, followed by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers hosting Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, we'll have to watch Dancing With the Stars.

NBA owners and players were reportedly close to a deal last week, with commissioner David Stern even appearing giddy after talks ended for the night on Thursday. But talks broke down Friday, and a sullen, disappointed, and somewhat angry Stern announced more game cancellations, and when asked if it was still possible to play a full 82-game season, he said not “under any circumstances”.

I vowed that I wouldn't want an NBA game this year if they shortened the season, but maybe I'll relent if there's a quick settlement. College basketball is coming, and there's always hockey, so its not like I'll be watching Tom Bergeron anytime soon.

The maddening thing for fans is that both sides are essentially quibbling over two cents. Two cents! That is, two cents on the dollar for what is often being referred to as BRI (Basketball Related Income)--in other words, money that comes in from other sources, like the Kobe Bryant or LeBron James jersey you buy.

Now two cents on the dollar amounts to an estimated 100 million dollars a year, or a billion dollars over a ten year deal. The players got 57 percent of BRI in the last deal, and lowered their offer to 52 percent. Owners want a 50-50 split. When that issue was brought back up during talks Friday, players union head Billy Hunter got up and left.

It's hard to take sides on this one. The players have given some concessions, but Stern says the two percent difference means a difference of whether the league (or at least the majority of its franchises) is profitable or not. But if they were so close on all the other issues, why can't they just settle at 51 percent and be done with it? That seems an easier question than why Nancy Grace is considered a star.

World Series wrap-up: This year's series was like 1986 all over again, but without Bill Buckner's error. Both the '11 Cardinals and the '86 Mets were down to their last strike twice in game six before an epic comeback. No one remembers the Mets having to come back from a 3-0 deficit in game seven in '86, and I doubt many will remember that Texas had an early 2-0 lead in game seven this year. I guess history repeats itself every 25 years...After dismal ratings through the first five games, games six and seven were ratings winners. Neilsen reports overall ratings for the 2011 Series are 11 percent higher than last year.

News of the Day: Tony LaRussa has announced he is retiring as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, which comes as a surprise. His contract was up, but it was reported he would be back. The 67 year-old was third all-time in wins, and won three chapionships. Way to go out on top, though...Kim Kardashian has filed for divorce from mediocre basketball player Kris Humphries after 72 days. Sham? Taking the made-for-TV wedding money and running? But hey, they lasted 10 weeks longer than the 55-hour bliss of Britney Spears and (not the guy that played George Costanza on Seinfeld) Jason Alexander.

Miscellany: I'm not dressing up for Halloween this year, but I'm reminded of when I dressed up as Niner quarterback Steve Young. I was in living in Young's native Utah, and he had multiple concussions that season, so I wore a Young jersey with a head bandage and fake blood. Yes, I got comments...I know it's a publicity stunt and it will never happen, but Marysville Gold Sox owner Tom Lininger issued a press release, saying that if the NFL doesn't want Terrell Owens, the Gold Sox would love to have him. I hope it happens, so I could see manager Jack Johnson kick T.O. off the team when Owens demands more playing time and becomes a cancer in the locker room...You never really realize how dirty your TV screen is until you watch a hockey game.

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