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Halted Hoops

As a baseball season widely seen as redeeming the sport plays its World Series finale, a pro basketball season that could tatter that sport sputters into a strike-induced stall.

With National Basketball Association players and owners locked in a salary dispute, fans probably won't see a game until January, if then. Pre-season games and two weeks of the regular season have already been canceled.

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The minimum salary for NBA players, by the way, is $272,500. That puts even third stringers in the income stratosphere among Americans. The league's average salary is a lofty $2.6 million. Then, of course, there are the stars who take home amazing amounts of money for playing a game they've loved since playground days. Michael Jordan, the game's premier player, gets $30 million a year. And huge sums more for product promotions.

The league, currently spending on player salaries nearly 60 percent of the $2 billion it earns from games, wants to impose a cap. Players see this as an affront, and are offering instead a "tax" on top salaries to be redistributed to poorer teams.

Fans rightly feel left out of this picture. Many wonder how much money a player - or a team owner - needs to be happy. Greed seems to be driving the dispute, and that dynamic will almost surely alienate the public. The NBA had better start searching its repertoire for the equivalent of the McGwire-Sosa home run derby.

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