Mike Monroe: NFL a tough act to follow

There is only one reason to believe the end of the NFL lockout will spur the two sides in the NBA’s labor dispute toward a settlement: Pressure to preserve the momentum gathered during a remarkable 2010-11 regular season capped off by a hugely popular playoff run.

It would have been easier to cancel NBA games in November if fans didn’t have NFL games as refuge for their disappointment.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a member of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, apologized to fans on Monday for making them focus on the business of football rather than what happens on the field.

Kraft’s league won’t miss a single regular-season game, but his apology seemed sincere.

Imagine how Spurs owner Peter Holt, who chairs the NBA Board of Governors player relations committee, will feel if he has to tell fans that the business of basketball means they won’t see a full schedule or perhaps no games at all.

Aside from the added urgency that goes with being the lone league locked out, though, there is not much for the NBA’s owners or players to take from the NFL settlement as a template for progress.

Remember: NFL owners never claimed their business model was broken. Indeed, the league never had to turn over its books to the players because it never said it wasn’t turning a profit. The ink on the league’s bottom line was set in less type, but it wasn’t red.

The NBA turned over its financial records to the National Basketball Players Association, and while the union is suspicious, it hasn’t disputed some losses were incurred.

The players steadfastly have rejected the notion they should accept enormous salary givebacks to ensure annual profitability for the teams, which is what the owners have asked them to do.

The NFL’s players settled for a deal that cut their chare of league revenue by about 3 percent. Conversely, the NBPA has been asked to swallow a double-digit dip.

Revenue sharing, the players believe, must be a bigger part of the answer to the NBA’s problem. In this instance, there is something to be learned from the NFL. All the teams in the pro football league share equally in its enormous network TV deals. In the NBA, teams like the Lakers and Knicks benefit from local media packages that simply aren’t feasible in smaller markets. Some other form of revenue sharing is required.

The NBA says it has robust changes in its revenue sharing program running on a “parallel track” with its negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners say that is an internal discussion, so we haven’t heard a peep about that yet.

Commissioner David Stern enjoys pointing out that you can’t revenue share your way out of a net loss.

So now football is back, and basketball has allowed an entire month to go by without a single negotiating session. The two sides won’t meet again until mid-August because of something about awaiting a ruling by the molasses-slow National Labor Relations Board.

Meanwhile, a lot of players are angling for jobs overseas. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has had his representatives talk with Besiktas, the Turkish team that already has signed Deron Williams of the Nets.

This is moderately tangible pressure on the NBA to get back to bargaining. Lakers owner Jerry Buss, for one, probably would prefer his star not put his shaky knees at risk playing with Besiktas.

Ultimately, the only real urgency in any labor stalemate is applied by hard economics. Just as the NFL’s talks didn’t get serious until training camps were threatened, the NBA’s talks will drag until truly meaningful dates start getting scratched — not the summer league or rookie transition program.


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