What is a Force Majeure?

Liam McKeone
NBA
NBA / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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As the coronavirus pandemic continues and the possibility that the NBA and other professional sports leagues will have to outright cancel their respective seasons grows larger, there's one term we might start to see get thrown around that most of us haven't seen before.

Yesterday ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski penned a story describing how the NBA and NBA Players Association is in discussions about what to do with the players' salary in the event the rest of the season is canceled.

Force Majeure NBA

Wojnarowski describes a provision within the collective bargaining agreement called Force Majeure, which outlines what the league and the players should do in scenarios like the one we all currently find ourselves in.

But what exactly is a Force Majeure?

What is a Force Majeure?

The dictionary definition is a law term, described as "unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract." It's obviously not limited to the collective bargaining agreements in sports; most, if not all, organizations with a CBA of any type likely has a Force Majeure provision in place just in case.

The coronavirus pandemic would fall under a Force Majeure event and would allow the league to enact the clause. For our purposes, let's look what it means in the context of the NBA.

Force Majeure Meaning

Should the NBA enact the Force Majeure clause, players would lose about one percent of their salary for each game played. So, should games be canceled, the clause would automatically trigger and Stephen Curry would lose about $375,000 for each game canceled. Given the Lakers have 19 games remaining on their schedule, Curry would ultimately be out just a shade over $6 million.

It would also give the NBA the means to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement 60 days after delivering notice to the NBAPA of their intentions to do so. From reports like Wojnarowski's and other NBA insiders, the league would only do that for the purposes of installing specific clauses for a pandemic in the future; as it stands, it falls under the Force Majeure provision, but there isn't a specific clause regarding a worldwide virus that shuts down everything, including basketball.

There you have it. Now you understand what exactly Woj and others will be talking about as the postponement continues. We can only hope that the NBA will return and we'll never hear about it again, but that's all we can do.

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