“Despite extensive efforts, we have not been able to reach a new agreement with the players’ union that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship while fairly compensating our players,” Adam Silver, the league’s deputy commissioner, said in a statement.
And just like that, for the second time in 13 years, the NBA will have a shortened season.
This announcement of lost games followed two days of intense talks that had apparently yielded only that the two sides are not going to come to any agreements soon. With the owners drawing a line in the sand and the players putting their line at the other end of the beach, the possibility of a lost season instead of a few games is fast becoming more and more a reality.
“We remain very, very far apart on virtually all issues,” Stern told reporters in New York. “We just have a gulf that separates us. We are so far apart . . . we can’t close the gap.”
Next up for both sides is damage control to the public. With both the players and the league not wanting to anger the fans any more than they have to, both parties tried to shift the blame to the other after their failed meeting Monday. First up was David Stern, who just looked as confused and saddened as can be that the players wouldn't accept the owners latest proposal, which was as fair as possible and would have benefited both sides, or so he implied.
"We think that we made very fair proposals," Stern told reporters in New York, describing himself as both sorry and sad about the parties' inability to get close to the framework of a deal before Monday's deadline to start the regular season on Nov. 1 as scheduled.
For the players side, their rep, Billy Hunter, insists that the players are going to hold strong to their end of the bargaining and not cave to missing a few checks, which is what Hunter said the League expects of the players.
"I think everybody's waiting for the players to cave," Hunter added. "They figure that once a player misses a check or two, it's all over. I'm saying … that would be a horrible mistake if they think that's going to happen, because it's not going to happen. The players are all going to hang in."
Hunter then eventually went on to accuse Stern of deliberately maneuvering these talks for precisely this out come, the missing of games. He implied that the leagues agenda is one that they are resolved to make, no matter how many games are missed.
"I think it goes back to a comment that David made to me several years ago when he said, 'Look, this is what my owners have to have,' " Hunter recounted. "And I said, 'The only way you're going to get that is if you're prepared to lock us out for a year or two,' and (this) indicated to me that they're willing to do it.
"So my belief, my contention, is that everything he's done has kind of demonstrated that he's following that script."
Whatever the case and whichever side you choose to agree with, the reality is that the NBA is shooting itself in the foot. It took nearly a decade for the league to recover from the last lockout and with the NBA as popular as ever before, this lost time will only prove to derail every ounce of progress made in the past few years.
"We're coming off the best season in the history of the NBA (in terms of revenues of TV ratings)” hunter said. “and I'm not so sure, in this kind of economy, that if there is a protracted lockout whether the league will recover.
"It took us a while to recover from the '98 lockout," Hunter continued, "and I think it will take us even longer to recover this time around."
At least this part of the statement hits the nail on the head and is pure truth.
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