What We’ve Learned About the NBA Lockout

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Anytime Soon.

By Mike Fisher

FISH

fish@dallasbasketball.com

 

The players were in Vegas. The owners were in Dallas. And the upcoming season? It’s in limbo. Nine Things We’ve Learned About The NBA Lockout…

 

1: The players are far too concerned about “putting on a show,’’ “appearances’’ and “what people think.” Traditional judgment of human behavior tells us that the Las Vegas demonstration from NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter – complete with 35 players wearing matching “STAND’’ t-shirts – is an accidental admission of weakness.

 

They care far too much about what outsiders think. So they staged a performance.

 

I would’ve enjoyed it more had they replaced the 30 t-shirt guys with a chorus line and Wayne Newton.

2: Which side is “fractured?’’ And ultimately, who cares? I know which side is fractured. It’s the side trying to get 450 men to think together… a more difficult task than trying to get 30 men to think together.

 

Said Chancellor Stern after the owners meeting here in Dallas on Thursday: “Some people might say they want a hard cap with this wrinkle and someone says I want a hard cap with that wrinkle. But I would say there is unanimity in favoring a hard cap, period.”

 

No, it’s the players’ side that is scattershooting with anger at their own partners, the powerful agents, who are pushing for decertification, a vote of no-confidence in Hunter. It’s the players side that is allowing SI.com to “obtain’’ Derek Fisher’s “players-only’’ letter that misspells the name of union member Luke Babbitt. (Ooops!)

 

3: Some media members have dogs in this hunt. Sports Illustrated is a primary example. On Wednesday came the leaked letter, complete with this powerful and rosy headline: “Union president Fisher sets record straight in letter to players.’’ On Thursday, Fisher conducted a one-on-one interview with a certain media outlet. Guess which media outlet it was?

 

As Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted, “Some of these NBA ‘bloggissists’ flat-out make stuff up and then try to dupe readers into believing their fiction is real. Sad & pathetic.’’

 

Bloggissists?’’ Gilbert is apparently taking spelling lessons from Derek Fisher. Nevertheless, his point is made. Agendas are everywhere.

 

4: Ultimately, though, fans don’t care which side gives in. Just that one side does. And right now, the “side’’ unwilling to cave is the third side, the most muscular agents. The power grab by those agents is on the horizon. If they get their wish for union decertification, Hunter is dead… and both sides will go tell it to a judge. I’m not buying the potential benefits here, though. That’ll mean a more drawn-out process (surely the season will be lost). And history tells us that the players will still not get their way.

 

5: Is there a compromise point? The players are apparently willing to concede on the basketball-related income, maybe moving down from 57 percent to 53 percent. But that doesn’t alter the landscape of the hard-cap argument. The report from ESPN that some of the men in the ownership boardroom find the 57-to-53 movement important is one thing. That doesn’t tie it directly to any arguments about a cap.

 

So it volleyballs back to the players’ side.

 

We’re going to continue to make the effort,’’ Fisher said, “but we’re not going to continue to concede.’’

 

I will take that bet.

 

6: There are two lessons to be learned from the lost NHL season. The NHL killed its 2004-05 season under very similar circumstances. Lesson One to be learned from this: Four of the NBA’s owners are also NHL owners. I believe they are comfortable with the sacrifice made because that lockout got the NHL’s financial house in order and put in place a salary cap.

 

If those guys were willing to do it then, they would be willing to do it now.

 

7: And Lesson Two: What do you remember about that lockout? About that lost season? In 2005-06, did you go scrambling down to the AAC to buy season tickets, giddy that the NHL was back? Did you embrace hockey as you had before? Did you have such hunger for it that you embraced it even more than before?

 

8: Where are the superstars? You see the photos of Hunter and Fisher. Who are those other guys? Where are Kobe and ‘Melo and LeBron and Amare and Dirk and Nash and Dwight? Did the union not print enough STAND t-shirts? Or are the big boys not truly “unified” with the rank-and-file?

 

9: We’re going to lose at least part of this season. That seems clear now. Training camps would normally start around Oct. 1. A chunk of the preseason schedule is already kaput. Says Hunter: “We’ve advised (players) they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal.’’

 

Except …

 

The clock is ticking, but it hasn’t struck midnight yet,” Stern said. “We have time to do what has to be done, and we’d like to do it.”

 

So Hunter is saying “good night.’’ And Stern is saying “good morning.’’ That’s how far apart the two sides are.

 

Ten at 10

The Cowboys are trying to go ‘young,’ which means some draftees really need to come through. Here’s my top 10 list of NFL Draft Day steals …

 

10 Richard Dent, Round 8, 1983

9 Terrell Davis, Round 6, 1995

8 Shannon Sharpe, Round 7, 1990

7 Bo Jackson, Round 7, 1987

6 Zach Thomas, Round 5, 1996

5 Charles Haley, Round 4, 1986

4 Deacon Jones, Round 14, 1961

3 Joe Montana, Round 3, 1979

2 Tom Brady, Round 6, 2000

1 Roger Staubach, Round 10

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