Nightly News   |  October 23, 2011

NBA season at risk of cancellation

Stalemated talks between players and owners in the NBA could force a cancellation of more games, barring a new labor agreement. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

LESTER HOLT, anchor: Well, one game they won't be playing any time soon, NBA basketball . With the lockout continuing and no new talks scheduled between the players and management, the prospects for an NBA season are not looking good. And that has many people fearing a devastating economic ripple effect. NBC 's Mike Taibbi has more on that for us tonight.

MIKE TAIBBI reporting: An empty Quicken Loans Arena , home of Cleveland's Cavaliers . Headlines talking about the city losing millions in a shortened season , and about ordinary workers contemplating the worst, workers like those at the Harry Buffalo Bar near the arena.

Ms. CAITLIN CASSIDY (Harry Buffalo Bar Manager): It'll be a long winter if there is no season .

TAIBBI: And that possibility grows more likely by the day. The stalemated talks between team owners and the players they've locked out are now dependent on mediation as a last hope. The first two weeks of the season already canceled with the ax poised for another whack.

DARREN ROVELL reporting: In the next couple of days, the NBA could cancel what would then be the entire first month of the season .

TAIBBI: A shortened or even canceled season would not have much effect on NBA cities like New York , whose Knicks are only one attraction in a city filled with sports and entertainment options. In fact, economists say the threat of a lost NBA season is less of a story than the averted loss of the NFL season because pro hoops is a smaller and less popular sport.

Mr. DENNIS COATES (University of Maryland, Baltimore County): It'll be a drop in the bucket. It's just -- the industry is too small.

TAIBBI: But it's not a drop in the bucket to Rovell 's Twitter followers who say they need their NBA related jobs "to pay my mortgage," "pay for college," or "a monthly car payment."

ROVELL: And that's really the sad part here.

TAIBBI: Sad, too, that while this is a fight between billionaires and millionaires.

Unidentified Man #1: A lot of rich people fighting for more money.

TAIBBI: Those rich protagonists also have much to lose. Twenty-two of 28 team owners already operate in the red and megasalary players could lose a big hunk of careers that average less than five seasons. And then there's the fan. Remember him?

Unidentified Man #2: Now I can't see those players play, it's like, ah, it's part of my life's missing.

TAIBBI: Missing until further notice. Mike Taibbi , NBC News, New York.