Those past six days were fun. After months of darkness and doom and gloom rhetoric from both players and owners, there was finally a little reason for optimism. And it wasn’t just in the form of Roger Mason’s non-tweet. Pretty much everywhere you looked, there was reason to believe an NBA season could be starting on time.
The turn of the calendar to September ramped up the pressure to get a deal done. Backs are to the wall in terms of getting training camps and preseason in. Whether it was just unbridled optimism from the media or there was good reason for it, the buildup to Tuesday’s labor meeting in New York had people believing in something good. We all waited for reps to emerge and proudly proclaim, “Looking like a season! HOW U!!!”
Alas, that didn’t happen. In fact, quite the opposite. David Stern put it this way: “We did not have a great day.” Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has been all over the labor negotiations and he passed along some pretty unsettling news. A sampling:
A bombshell indeed. One that just obliterated my upbeat outlook of the 2011-12 season. So much for hacked tweets and Derek Fisher texting players to get ready for a season. So much for no more doom and gloom or pessimistic rhetoric. So much for November and December basketball, potentially.
Now of course, this is one side of the story. The league has a different view of it all, but the players aren’t shy about being downtrodden about the chances of a deal. But I wouldn’t expect a different story from the league, except they’re just going to flip the script and put it on the players. They may have bigger problems though. Consider this:
Division of interest, eh? The story from the league has always been that the owners are more unified than ever and while you have to consider the source — Billy Hunter isn’t exactly on the owners side here — it makes sense for some of the owners to dislike this incredibly stubborn, hardline stance. For example, an owner like Clay Bennett is captaining a successful small market team that has a fanbase absolutely nuts for its team.
And if you start punching those fans in the face, you don’t know what the consequences could be. I’m speculating, but I would assume someone like Bennett is saying, “OK guys, I rode with you to here, but we need to get something done.” Then the big hitters like James Dolan and Mark Cuban come in and shoot it all down. At least that’s how I’m picturing it.
Don’t give up completely. There’s naturally going to be some tough negotiating to be done. The two sides were miles apart when they started and the calendar saying September isn’t going to just automatically close that gap. It’s called bargaining. Negotiating. It’s all part of it. Here I go trying to talk myself into it again, but there’s still time to get something done. But future sessions will have to be much more productive than this. Otherwise, this sums it up all too well:
I remember a wise (fictional) person say one time, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” Boy I hope so. Because it’s pretty dark out right now.