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Will the NBA Ever Play This Season?

Here's our weekly look at the intersection of sports and business.

NBA Legal Lineup

Legal wranglings between the NBA and NBPA are proving to be almost as dramatic as fourth quarter action on the hard court late in the season, with the NBA Playoffs hanging in the balance.

After labor talks completely broke down last weekend, the NBA players union hired attorney David Boies to file its antitrust suits against NBA. Boies, you may recall, worked against attorney Jeff Kessler in the NFL’s labor war. Now, he's working WITH Kessler, and together they form a power duo to give NBA owners pause.

Another discrepancy from the NFL’s legal moves: instead of decertifying their union outright, the NBA players filed a “disclaimer of interest” allowing them to speed up the process and immediately file the antitrust suits. Disclaiming interest also potentially preempts a long, drawn out court battle and makes it easier to reform the union should the players need to regroup in order to quickly approve a new collective bargaining agreement - which is what happened last summer with the NFL.

Bottom Line: If the NPBA wanted to go the disclaimer route, they should have done so months ago. Filing now risks cancelling the NBA season, which could also mean forfeiting more than $4 billion in revenue.

Cities/Players on the Sideline

Who's not grateful this Thanksgiving? NBA cities and players. When you look at the big picture, Portland, Memphis, and Oklahoma City rely on their NBA teams. It's the only major league professional game in town. Sacramento is looking for a new arena, or else the Kings might move to Anaheim. And in Orlando, where the NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for late February, $100 million of local economic impact hangs in the balance.

For the players, it's paycheck time. November 15th was to be the first day they would get their biweekly paychecks. Lakers star Bryant loses $1.05 million every pay period, while Dwight Howard is out $745,000, LeBron James $667,000, Kevin Durant $566,000, and Chicago’s Derrick Rose $291,000.

Bottom Line: Even though Bryant and these other stars presumably have hefty savings accounts, they will still feel the pinch, as well as every other player, the cities, and basketball as a whole.

College Sports Report

The NCAA approved new measures geared towards improving student-athlete performance in the classroom. Beginning in 2015, freshman will need a minimum 2.3 high school GPA to participate in sports, up from the current 2.0 standard. Additionally, teams will need a four-year graduation rate of 50% to compete in the postseason.

But not all college sports news is good news. A University of Maryland committee has recommended the school drop eight of its 27 varsity sports and cut athletic department administrative costs by 10% to close a budget shortfall. Among the teams at risk are men’s track, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and aerobics. Maryland isn’t the first major university to recommend cutting sports teams – UCLA did last year.

Bottom Line: As people scream for college athletes to be paid, this is another example of why most proposals aren’t logical.… Athletic departments don’t even have enough money to be viable. At least the NCAA is putting more of an emphasis on the “student” in “student-athlete.”

Rick Horrow is the "Sports Professor," and is the Sports Business Analyst for Fox Sports. He has been the Visiting Expert on Sports Law at the Harvard Law School, and has authored "When the Game Is on the Line" and "Beyond the Scoreboard: An Insider's Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports." His show "Beyond the Box Score" is posted on a weekly basis on FoxSports.com, and the latest emerging trends in sports business can be found at www.horrowsports.com. Watch Rick talk about sports every Monday at 1 p.m. ET with FBN's Tracey Byrnes on "FoxNews.com Live."

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