NEW YORK--Saturday's round of NBA labor negotiations are decidedly less high profile than Friday's session. Superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony departed the Big Apple for various obligations, including union executive committee member Chris Paul's charity exhibition game Saturday in North Carolina.
And after reports of tension-filled discussions Friday, prior notions of a make-or-break weekend for the upcoming regular season haven't yet taken root.
Tales of a confrontation between Wade league commissioner David Stern, All-Star Paul Pierce's impassioned reasoning and even James taking a vocal role are certainly nice material during a time when there are misgivings about whether or not there will be NBA basketball in the near future--while the Paul-hosted contest, a Drew League-Goodman League rematch and an exhibition game put together by Miami's "Big 3" are sure to be captivating one-day spectacles, there will almost surely be more clunkers, like Friday night's not-as-advertised Goodman League vs. Rucker League showdown in Brooklyn--as fans clamor for any signs of optimism to be read between the lines amidst the talks.
"In a long meeting of this magnitude you're going to have volatility back and forth," union president Derek Fisher, said Saturday. "We tried to do the best job we can--stepping out of the room when necessary, continuing dialogue when necessary.
"It's an open room. Everyone is an adult. We can say things we feel need to be said. At the same time, this is business and there's a certain level of professionalism that is required," he continued, as James, Wade, Anthony, Pierce, Ray Allen, Andre Iguodala, Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Ben Gordon and Maurice Evans stood behind him at a press conference in a Manhattan hotel conference room. "Anytime it gets personal, emotional, then it's our responsibility to bring it back and keep everybody focused on what the goal is, and that's to get an agreement done."
So, as reporters wait out long bargaining sessions in posh hotel lobbies, to deliver scant evidence of either progress or stare-downs, bolstered by "sources" (agenda-less, of course) describing scenes from the board room, and agents and other league power brokers attempt to wield power behind the curtains, the glacial pace of the discussions steadily increases and concessions are made.
But beyond percentages of basketball-related income, hard or soft salary caps, luxury taxes, revenue sharing, television rights, star-powered shows of support and even league-union conference-room skirmishes, it seems that the gap could be closing in the once-extreme differences in the two sides' philosophy.
Whether this is due to putting on a brave face for the media or that resolving a deal in time to save the season could be coming soon, only time will tell, and unfortunately, it doesn't look like this weekend is likely to yield the final result.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.