Hey, at least the Bulls won’t have to take the annual, and usually disastrous, circus trip this year.

Count on a severely shortened NBA season, if there is one at all, now that the lockout will wipe out regular-season games.

Neither side blinked Tuesday in what was likely the last negotiating session for a month or more.

The players union held fast at giving back four percent of their take of the NBA revenue pie.

“Fifty-three [percent] is our number,” Billy Hunter, the players’ union chief, said. “We’ve broken off negotiations.”

Hunters said the players’ proposal would give back $1billion to the owners over six years.

It appears the owners barely budged off the 47 percent they want to give the players moving forward. Though reports are commissioner

NBA Commissioner David Stern suggested a 50-50 split with the players kicking in $300 million more in expenses. Which would move the players back toward 47


Stern said the players response to that “offer,” was to walk out of what was a four-hour meeting in New York.

The owners are counting on the players resolve to dissolve once they start missing paychecks.

Hunter’s response was a diplomatic: “Try us!”  This showdown isn’t going to end quickly as did the NFL’s lockout. Because the two sides aren’t just trying to figure out how to divide up billions in profits.

Certainly, there are teams losing big-time money. Two-thirds or more, as Stern suggests? Doubtful.

What everyone should be able to agree upon is the NBA is shutting down after one of its most-compelling and highly-rated seasons ever. This should remind Stern of the NHL’s 1994 lockout, which was a major buzz-kill, coming immediately after one of the best playoffs in hockey history.

I covered that tedious shutdown, which led to 34 regular-season games being whacked. Working the hotel hallways in Chicago’s Drake Hotel and the Manhattan Holiday Inn to the wee hours was in stark contrast to the seven games I was fortunate enough to witness in which the New

Jersey Devils and New York Rangers played to crown the Eastern Conference champs. That series was matched by the breath-taking Stanley Cup Finals I then covered when the Rangers outlasted the Vancouver Canucks.

Those two series led to Sports Illustrated asking the cover question of whether the NHL was about to overtake the NBA in popularity. Thanks to the NHL owners locking out the players, the debate was never allowed to begin.

Beware NBA, we may now get the answer to SI’s question, some 17 years later.

Hope you will join Mully and me when we talk this and Chicago sports between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.

As always, thanks for listening.


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