Sports 101

It's Day 150 of the NBA lockout - but who's counting? The players, most likely, who are missing out on their paychecks. In March, the owners voted to reopen talks on the collective-bargaining agreement because they felt that players were being paid too much. Last season, players on some teams received as much as 57 percent of the team's revenue. Owners are asking them to accept a 52 or 53 percent split; players want 57 or 58 percent. Until this year the NBA had never missed a regular-season game because of a labor disagreement.

Q: How much money are basketball arenas losing?

A: It varies, but some are losing up to $1 million for each unplayed NBA game, which includes ticket revenue and food and concessions. Arena employees are losing income, too, along with surrounding businesses like restaurants.

Q: How are arenas trying to make up for the lost money?

A: Some are extending concert dates - Madison Square Garden will add a Billy Joel concert and Kiss plans to play an extra show in Boston. Others are getting more creative: In Salt Lake City, the Delta Center's car-dealer owner organized a used-car sale at the arena.

Q: How long will the strike last?

A: At least until January because talks are proceeding at a snail's pace. The league just informed NBC on Tuesday that the network's Christmas Day doubleheader will be cancelled.

Q: Are players allowed to practice during the strike?

A: No. Workout facilities are shut, and teams are not allowed to conduct any exhibitions, practices, coaching sessions, or player meetings.

Q: What is "the Larry Bird exception"?

A: This rule allows teams to re-sign their own free agents regardless of the salary cap ($26.9 million per team in 1997-98). The Chicago Bulls paid Michael Jordan $33 million (more than most teams pay their entire roster) that year because of the Bird exception. Owners want to phase it out or modify it. Players want to keep it just as it is.

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