Wednesday meeting raises NBA lockout hopes

Wednesday meeting raises NBA lockout hopes
November 9, 2011, 7:37 pm
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We've been down this road before. Sure, the situation is different every time -- the players are willing to take an equal split of basketball-related income, NBA commissioner David Stern has the power to tweak the owners' proposal in order to make a deal. According to Yahoo!, a meeting, now in progress, was agreed to before Wednesday afternoon's deadline for the union to take the current offer.

Compared to recent events in sports, like the death of boxing legend Joe Frazier, the awful Penn State scandal, Stevie Williams' racist remarks about Tiger Woods and the aftermath of the epic LSU-Alabama clash (or for the musically-inclined, the passing of Heavy D), the latest developments in the saga of the NBA lockout don't amount to much. But in this sensationalized society, even the comments of lawyers make headlines, as witnessed when union attorney Jeffrey Kessler brought race into his characterization of Stern -- the commissioner defended himself, unlike he did when Bryant Gumbel hurled similar words his way -- before apologizing.

Indeed, the subplots of this drama have alternately enhanced and subtracted from the issues. Being that negotiations take place in New York, at times this feels like the "Gangs of New York," with all of the different factions -- players for union decertification, the so-called NBA middle-class wanting to take the deal, pro-Derek Fisher players, international players urging the players' association to make an agreement, hard-line stars and even powerful agents working behind the scenes to influence union strategy; the two main groups for owners seem to be small-market teams and major markets, or is it "hawks" and "doves," or Michael Jordan and Paul Allen vs. Micky Arison? -- pushing their agendas.

Regardless of all the distractions present, the small groups on both sides in the room Wednesday (doesn't it seem as if small groups have been more effective throughout this process) seemingly have some clarity going into these discussions, even after the players' association Tuesday rejected the deal on the table. The union has continuously conceded on various points of contention, most obviously the revenue split, and now what remains are must-have -- at least for the players -- system issues that won't restrict player movement, such as teams that pay the luxury tax not being prevented from making sign-and-trades or being otherwise discouraged from going over the tax threshold, like not receiving a full mid-level exception.

With so many other points of contention now agreed upon, surely the two parties can swallow their pride and instead of the next announcement being that games are canceled through Christmas, a less frustrating, more positive message will be heard, jamming Twitter, leading local and national news broadcasts and allowing players, employees, fans and media alike to rejoice? It's possible, but even as leaks from the discussions provide third-party insights of any progress, don't get your hopes up just yet.