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More on NBA labor talks: The pizza metaphor

By Chris Sheridan

Those of you who follow the business side of the NBA closely know about BRI, the acronym for Basketball Related Income -- the pot of money that the owners and the players split up.

To those unfamiliar with the concept of BRI, this is somewhat of a sloppy metaphor, but I'll use it anyway:

Picture BRI as a pizza, cut up into eight slices. For at least the past 15 years, the players have been getting four slices, the owners three, and they've split the eighth slice in 14 of those years.

Now, if what SI.com is reporting is accurate, the owners want to not only take half the pizza, but a big chunk of that fifth slice, too.

A formal proposal from the owners on a new collective bargaining agreement is expected to arrive at the players' union offices any day, and tone will be set for the road forward -- and whether it will be a long, difficult road -- toward replacing the labor agreement due to expire June 30, 2011.

The NBA has declined to comment on the accuracy of the 45-55 report, which was the third item in today's Sports Business Journal. Players union president Derek Fisher commented on the issue diplomatically in a story I wrote today regarding the labor situation.

But back to the pizza.

If the owners really do ask for 55 percent, predictions of an epic, bloody battle could prove prescient.

Here is a list, provided by a representative for several high-profile NBA players, of the percentage of BRI that NBA players have received since 1995-96 -- the year the Chicago Bulls won an NBA record 72 games:

2008-09: 57.4 percent.

2007-08: 57 percent.

2006-07: 57 percent.

2005-06: 57 percent.

2004-05: 57 percent

2003-04: 57 percent.

2002-03: 60 percent

2001-02: 57 percent

2200-01: 65 percent.

1999-00 62 percent.

1998-99: 59 percent

1997-98: 57 percent.

1996-97: 55 percent.

1995-96: 53 percent.

Just a little something to chew on until we find out at All-Star weekend (NBA commissioner David Stern will undoubtedly address the matter at his annual All-Star news conference) a little more about what was in the owners' initial proposal, and how it was received.