As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, all hell broke loose in the NBA on Thursday. In short, the owners saw a surprise appearance by Portland’s Paul Allen, who was sent in to make sure his group clearly understood a deal was not to be agreed upon, while the Spurs’ Peter Holt drew the line in the sand, basically telling the players they could take 50-50 BRI (basketball related income) or leave it. Since the players are reluctant to drop down even from 53%, the owners knew that requiring the players to accept 50-50 before any other talks were to happen would shut the entire thing down.
When I first started studying the lockout, the overwhelming idea I kept hearing was that a lot of the owners were not only prepared to lose a full season, but many of them actually preferred to do so. The hope was/is that the players will miss paychecks, feel the pain and then crack. They would then allow the owners to have their deal, giving up many of the perks (and a big chunk of change) they have enjoyed in the past.
On the players’ side, guys like Jared Dudley have commented that the players have been preparing for this for two or three years, and are prepared to stand united and go unpaid for a year or two. While I’m not sure I completely buy that one, the fact that he seems to think it’s true is quite frightening.
So, while I wrote a few times that getting a deal done would be very tough because the owners have the money, power and leverage in this fight, as well as an “I don’t care” attitude, I still believed in my heart of hearts that cooler heads would prevail, people would use common sense, a mediator would ride in to save the day, or David Stern would simply force his hand and get the guys on the court. But after yesterday, I’m not sure if or when we’ll see hoops this season.
David Stern went home sick with the flu, no new meetings have been scheduled, Derek Fisher got on television and told the media (and viewers) that the owners’ side just “lied” about what went down, and then the union’s Billy Hunter stood up and called out several owners in the room, stating specifically which ones are good guys (Mark Cuban, Micky Arison) and which are not (Dan Gilbert, Holt, Allen).
Yes, there’s a decent chance this storm will blow over and meetings will resume again in the near future. And yes, there’s even a chance a deal will get done in time to salvage at least some of this season. But until the players are ready to cave, I don’t see the owners giving much more than they’ve given. And unfortunately for the fans, they have all the leverage in this fight.
When billionaires and millionaires fight, the billionaires almost always come out on top. And that’s probably what will happen this time around. The real question is, how much pain can the players stand, and how long can they wait this out? Sadly, even if the answer to that question is a couple years, they’re still not going to get the deal they want.
Strangely, I’m not even really that mad at anyone on either side. I just want to write a Draft Guide, crank out the Daily Dose and immerse myself in the NBA 24/7. And as of now, this lockout is not only making it difficult doing the job I love, but thousands of other writers, arena workers, parking attendants, etc. will struggle just to feed their families until this is resolved. Something’s going to have to give, and I just hope it happens sooner than later. Now excuse me…I have to go write up something about J.J. Hickson signing overseas – sigh.