From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: As Stern has recounted a dozen times since, not long after what was supposed to have been the hallway conversation that saved the season, something odd and wholly unexpected happened. There was a knock on the door where Stern was selling his owners on the idea. The players wanted to talk. When they convened, instead of the union’s head, Hunter, or its negotiating committee of Maurice Evans, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Chris Paul, representing the players were Fisher, Kessler and three superstars who had been to very few of the meetings at all: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant. A bad sign: Pierce was still wearing his backpack. The players had two pieces of news that shocked the league: 50/50 was not good enough. And there was nothing further to discuss.
From Matt Moore, Eye On Basketball: To close this deal, with so much on the line, do you send in your experienced diplomat, the man who has the know-how and demeanor to establish guidelines, work to squirrel away as much as can be reasonably established, and ensure that the lines of communication stay open? Or do you send in your slightly off-balance general who too often resorts to screaming and who considers everything to be a battlefield? The owners sent in the warrior, and that at least partially contributed to the disaster of losing games so close to a deal. Dual independent reports from ESPN today tell of the meeting that could have saved the season, and of the reported 50/50 deal that fell apart (which both sides claim came from the other side). And the conclusion came not with Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher dealing with the union, but with Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant… and Kevin Garnett marching in to tell the owner’s what what.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Monday’s cancelation of the first two weeks of games by commissioner David Stern was something Fisher said the union anticipated. Despite both sides meeting for more than 13 hours in the two days before the cancelation was announced, Stern acknowledged there was still a wide gulf on “virtually all issues.” Where do we go from here? How do we get back to a place where we see Fisher with West’s silhouette on his warm-ups and uniform the majority of the time and just a glimpse of him in a suit before and after games? With the incentive of salvaging a full season off the table and both sides threatening to harden their stances as the lockout ticks past Day 102 and toward Day 204 (which is how long the lockout lasted in 1998-99) or beyond, there are no easy solutions. But these four concessions — two from the players’ side and two from the owners’ side — would go a long way in bridging the gap that divides them.
From Matt Moore, Pro Basketball Talk: There’s a whole lot of confusion over the first two weeks of the season that have been canceled. The league doesn’t know how many games will be canceled, so it can’t make any announcements on the status of the games that have already been canceled. The assumption is that the games that were lost are gone forever. But that’s probably not the case.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In a lot of ways, we cover the league like a highly serialized television show, following big storylines, tracking characters, and trying to figure out how A impacts B and could change C 10 games down the road. Many fans consume it that way, too. But a far larger number are more casual, passing in and out of the NBA world depending on countless other things vying for their attention. How each demographic reacts to the lockout I don’t know, but one thing is undeniably true: To sustain the sort of growth the NBA has seen while continuing to expand in ways they’d like requires an enormous number of people consuming the product, wildly outstripping the amount of people in an NBA arena or watching on TV on any given night. Ultimately, whether the NBA misses a month or a season, the die-hards (most of them, at least) will come back. Angrily and with resentment, but back nonetheless. I’m confident Lakers fans would again fill the Staples Center. But die-hards and Lakers ticket buyers don’t constitute the bulk of the basketball viewing public. In a world with ever expanding entertainment options, particularly on television, and in the face of a lousy economy, what happens to everyone else?
From David Murphy, Searching For Slava: George Cohen is head of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, appointed by President Obama. He has argued five landmark labor cases before the Supreme Court, over 100 cases before appellate and federal district courts. He worked with the NFL during their recent lockout, mediated soccer in 2010 and hockey in 2005. He pleaded for the MLB players before U.S. District Judge Sotomayor in ‘96. She lifted the strike that same day. The consensus amongst most sports writers? He doesn’t have a shot. It’s a view born of a series of downturns and deceit – it’s Charlie Brown landing flat on his back after Lucy pulls away the football, once again. This seems to bother me in some vague way. Director Cohen has been talking to both sides, off-the-record, for months. He knows the numbers, the conflicts, the game. The players want to give him a full week to work a deal. The commissioner has given him one day only, citing scheduling conflicts. Stop and rewind. David Stern, in the midst of a media blitz, gives a presidential appointee, a day. Posturing? Probably, but the players’ union still has a complaint before the National Labor Board and Stern is dancing perilously close to the edge.
From Janis Carr, The OC Register: Morris, like all the other incoming rookies, was headed for the NBA and big paydays when the league locked out the players in a labor dispute that has dragged on for three-plus months. Training camps should have opened by now, exhibition games played. Opening day was scheduled for Nov.1. But all that is off until a compromise between the NBA and the players’ union can be reached. “I’m starting to get anxious now,” Morris said over the phone as he headed to Friday’s NBPA meeting in Beverly Hills, “because now it (lockout) is tapping into training camp and games. “I’m anxious to experience my dream but in the meantime, I’m just controlling what I can control.” And that’s his expenses and his training.