First, if you follow on Twitter (@deepsixer3), then you already received the minute-by-minute blow of what went down during today's crucial negotiating session in NYC. If you don't, what follows is the synopsis.
After today's bargaining session between the NBA and the NBA Players Association, and after a failure to reach a deal, the NBA officially cancelled the remainder of the pre-season. In addition, NBA commissioner David Stern said that if a deal isn't reached by Monday, Oct. 10, that the NBA will be forced to also cancel the first two weeks of the regular season. Considering that the two sides parted company this evening with no further meetings scheduled, the likelihood of a deal being reached by Monday is slim to none.
Today's meeting began at a NYC hotel around 1:15, about 75 minutes after its scheduled start. The two sides decided that there was no reason to continue meeting (although the NBA side says it was the players side saying there was no point in continued talks) around 5:30 or so. According to Stern, the bargaining session was ended by the players after the two sides agreed to "informally" discuss the possibility of a 50-50 revenue split. As Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver explain it, in a small meeting between key people from each side, the NBA and the union informally discussed the "what if" concept of selling their respective sides on the idea of a 50-50 split. The two smaller groups parted ways to see what their side would say about this "concept." While Stern and Silver were convincing the owners about a 50-50 split (both Stern and Silver made it clear the owners would have done 50-50), the players knocked at the door, pulled Stern and Silver outside, and said there was no chance of a deal at 50-50. Furthermore, as Stern explained it, the players made it clear there was no reason to continue today's discussions, specifically because the players were holding firm at 53 percent.
The two sides ended the meeting and, as of right now, have no plans for another meeting. Also, just to make it clear, agreeing on the 50-50 split would have just been a starting point towards addressing all of the "system issues" that still need addressing.
Here's how Stern explained the 50-50 situation: "The formal position of the parties was the players at 53, us at 47 and in a very, very small group that included from our side Adam and me, we asked a question of the players small group, and they of us, ‘Would each side entertain the notion of a 50-50 deal?’ If so, we would each go back to our parties. While we were in the process of doing that with our owners, we were asked to step out and we were advised by the players that that would not be acceptable."
The NBA Players Association held their media availability before Stern and Silver. And the union made no mention of this "concept" discussion of a 50-50. In fact, the union stated that the NBA's last, best offer was at 47 percent of revenue, which they said the NBA disguised at 50, but also included nearly $350 million in givebacks due to expenditures, essentially just making it an offer of 47. In an effort not to get lost in these numbers -- because, really, most fans don't care, they just want basketball -- the bottom line from today's meeting is it's bad. With no meetings scheduled in the foreseeable future, with regular season games scheduled for cancellation within five days, and with the two sides still staring at a huge gap, it's safe to be extremely concerned. The only glimmer of hope to cling to is that Stern and Silver seemed to be clearly distributing a message to the 400-plus NBA players not present today (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Kobe, etc. were in attendance) that a deal could be made at 50-50, which many players would likely consider. Stern and Silver succeeded in delivering this message ... so if there's a push from players to get back to the bargaining table and see what can be done at 50-50, maybe we'll see some progress sooner than anticipated.
"We anticipate coming out of today with the reality that the rest of the preseason will probably be cancelled at some point very soon and then obviously we’re also faced with the early part of our regular season being in jeopardy," said union president Derek Fisher, speaking minutes before the NBA officially canceled the remainder of the preseason. "We’ve never taken that prospect lightly. Even though we are basketball players, this is not a game to us. We’ve taken this process very seriously … we find ourselves at a point today that in some ways we anticipated or expected to be: faced with a lockout that may jeopardize portions if not all of our season."
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