Maybe that synopsis about this being one of the worst days in NBA history will turn out to be incorrect. Maybe the players and owners will come together in the near future and agree to a new deal. But as of 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, things are not looking good. At all. We no longer even have a deal on the table with which to negotiate through and there is no end in sight after the players filed a "disclaimer of interest" on Monday, dissolving their union.
David Stern is mad. Billy Hunter is mad. Kobe Bryant is mad. Fans are mad. I'm mad. And my guess is a majority of the players, many of which don't have a year or two's worth of cash stashed away under their mattresses, are also mad. Yes, the players might have accepted the latest offer on the table had all 450 of them been given a vote. But that never happened, nor were they even polled collectively. Egos took over and this lockout will likely be settled in a court room. And whether that happens in two weeks, two months or two years is anyone's guess.
I really thought I'd be more ticked off as a fan than I am. But NBA basketball has been my full time job since 2004. I am much more sad and angry that I am not blurbing news updates on busy Friday nights, or waking up in the morning and cranking out a Daily Dose, telling you guys who the hot pickup of the day is after a big injury the night before. And I think the most disgusting thing about the nuclear winter we are possibly facing is that Rotoworld's NBA traffic exploded last year, giving the big boys (baseball and football) some serious competition. All that momentum we worked so hard to build is suddenly gone. I do believe fantasy hoops fans will be back once the boys are back on the court instead of in the courtroom, but that remains to be seen.
No lawsuit has been filed yet, but there is an excellent chance the players file an antitrust suit against the league, claiming they negotiated in poor faith. An agreement could still be reached at any time, but given the fact at least 10 owners didn't want to agree to the last deal offered by the league, I'm not holding my breath. It will take 30 days from the time any deal is reached before play can start, and I'm guessing the latest possible start date would be mid-January with another 50-game season, just like 1999. But time is running out, egos are bruised and I'm really feeling like the season will be lost. And something that's even more disturbing to think about is that there's no guarantee the 2012-13 season starts on time, or even happens.
So for now, we'll just have to sit back and see what happens next. I don't think the players or owners are entirely to blame here, but there are serious greed issues on both sides. And as I said earlier, I think many, if not a majority, of NBA players were ready to take the 50-50 deal that was offered to them. And make no mistake about it - David Stern's ultimatum did not sit well with anyone that I know of. His arrogance rubbed people the wrong way, and his legacy will certainly be tarnished if the season is lost. He's as much to blame as anyone in this mess.
Kobe Bryant was in attendance today and many people thought he might be able to convince the union to take the deal, but that obviously wasn't the case. Stern called the crumbling of the union simply a "negotiating tactic," and we can only hope he's right. But I doubt the owners are the least bit scared and I don't see them crumbling just because the season is in serious jeopardy now. In fact, I've been saying all along that many owners don't even want to have a season, essentially breaking the players down to the core. And clearly, that idea played a huge role in how these negotiations went, and ultimately were obliterated.
At this point, I'm simply hoping for a 50-game season, or at least a full season next year. As of now, Rotoworld will continue to cover the lockout and ongoing player news (Europe, celebrity pickup games, injuries, etc.), but that news may be tougher to come by if players truly aren't going to be speaking to the media due to the legal ramifications that come along with filing a lawsuit. Things are not looking good for the average NBA fan, arena worker, NBA writer, or player, but a deal will eventually be reached. Hopefully you'll stick around with us and go along for the ride. It might be the scariest rolller coaster you've ever been on.