For many fans the NBA lockout hasn’t been something that has been highly researched or explored. For the casual fan it simply means that there is no NBA basketball to watch. However, for those fans that try a little harder to understand the reasoning behind the lockout it is obvious that both sides are using common negotiating tactics.
In order to better understand the position that the players and owners currently find themselves in I took a look at some basic rules of negotiating. Many of the articles that I found offered some advise for negotiating but didn’t really explain why those ideas were important.
Ultimately I stumbled across an article on LifeHacker that I felt directly related to the current labor issues facing the NBA. The title of the article says it all, Avoid Making the First Concession When Bargaining to Come Out Ahead in the End. For anybody who has followed the lockout updates consistently this should raise several red flags.
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Take into consideration the position that the NBA players are currently in. When they first started making demands during the summer they were using numbers like ’57 percent of BRI.’ However, after they realized the owners weren’t going to concede that high of a percentage they dropped to 53 percent. A few days later they dropped to 51 percent. Now? The players are begging the owners to just accept a 50/50 split.
According to the LifeHacker article this isn’t much of a surprise.
“One negotiating tactic to keep in mind is to avoid making the first concession. When you do, you increase the chances you’ll make most of them over the course of the conversation.”
While the owners have certainly made concessions in their proposals to the players they don’t seem to be nearly as extreme as what the players have offered to give up. From the standpoint of an owner the players have already agreed to make multiple sacrifices to reach a deal, what’s to stop them from making further concessions?
Obviously it’s safe to assume that a group of billionaire owners are going to be more educated and more experienced in the boardroom than a group of basketball players, many of whom didn’t graduate from college. It’s very obvious that this experience has benefited the owners while costing the players.
If the NBA players were more familiar with basic negotiating tactics would things really have been that different? Could simple knowledge such as this have saved the NBA season? I’m not suggesting that the players are poor negotiators, but with the obvious concessions coming from their end of the bargaining it seems that it is certainly a realistic possibility.