When David Stern sat down to give a press conference at 12:45 central time Saturday night, I really had no idea what to expect. More of the same? Tempered optimism? Disheartening negativity? A duet with Adam Silver singing the bass part on “Reunited”?
Probably the last thing I expected was for Stern to sit down and basically explain the league’s entire proposal to the players and then add that if they don’t take that deal by Wednesday, the next proposal will be infinitely worse.
Stern said it wasn’t an ultimatum. But that’s exactly what it is. Take it or leave it, players. And if you leave it, be ready to put your money where your mouth is. Because the season will be in serious jeopardy.
The federal mediator put out six proposals, or “what-ifs”, for the two sides to consider. According to Stern, the league has adopted five of those. One of those being a solution to the torturous disagreement on Basketball Related Income. The NBA’s proposal includes a “band” that would pay the players up to 51 percent if projected revenues are met and as low as 49 if they are not. And if revenues exceed projections, the players would get 57 percent of the overflow. So if the league’s projection — which is 4.5 percent growth — is something like $4.5 billion for next season (or whatever) and the league brings in $5 billion, the players would get 57 percent of that extra $500 million. Or at least that’s the way I understood. It was very confusing you see.
But why lay it all out there and issue this deadline? Because Stern’s brilliant, that’s why.
He’s put all the pressure on the players to take his deal. Is it fair? Probably not. But judging by the presentation of it, it appears that it’s a deal that the league isn’t even all that thrilled with but are willing to put forth in an effort to get something done. It’s like Stern’s saying, “We really hate this deal, but we’re just trying to get this done.” He even phrased it in a way making it sound like the NBA is heeding the advice of the federal mediator. So if the players have the balls the turn it down, ALL of the blame is one them. All of it. Every finger will be pointed right at them, square in the face. If the NBA season is lost, there won’t be many people pointing to the fact the owners presented a bullcrap deal. They’ll all be yelling at the players for passing on, as Stern presented it, “the federal mediator’s deal.”
Derek Fisher didn’t really refute much of that either. Except for the part about the players not taking it. He said the league’s proposal is still crappy for the players blah blah blah and that they rejected it. Asked about taking that proposal to the players to even see if they’d vote to pass it, Fisher said that there was no proposal to take because he doesn’t think it’s acceptable.
Why not though? Why not at least give it a shot? The league’s giving you a formal proposal that includes a 50-50 split, guaranteed contracts and the mid-level exception still virtually intact. And you’re not even willing to see what the body of players would vote? You know why I don’t think they’ll take it to a vote? Because they know it’ll pass. The agents, the lawyers and all the shadows pulling the strings in this thing won’t allow it because they know that proposal would pass with flying colors.
Fisher acted as if he’s set. The players aren’t willing to take Stern’s deal so they’re going to call his bluff, I presume.
They’ve got until Wednesday to change their mind. The NBA season is hanging in the balance. It’s starting to look like now or never.