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I couldn't wait to get back to my computer because I knew my most recent post was still up, still blaring my naivety and optimism: a deal could be reached! Get ready! Stay tuned! Go ahead and read it here: Silly Optimism!
I needed to rip that down as quickly as possible and post the reality: the NBA is a mess. The league's latest negotiations have turned sour, and the two sides have not scheduled their next session. When we finally finished listening to NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver, we returned to the lobby of this swanky New York City hotel to find its overnight guests dressed in Halloween garb. This seemed somehow appropriate given the horror of this latest bargaining session: 30-plus hours, a deal on the horizon, collapse, and now more canceled games.
Stern has announced the cancelation of NBA games through Nov. 30. He also said "there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstance." More cancelations are right around the corner. And then even more cancelations are around the corner after that. Because Stern made it clear that today's offer of a 50-50 split in BRI and what he called "concessions" on other system issues (keeping guaranteed contracts, contract lengths, etc) would likely be the best offer the union sees in a while.
"The NBA's next offer will reflect the losses that are starting to pile up," Stern said.
Just like they did during last week's meltdown, the two sides played another game of he-said, he-said. NBA Player's Association chief Billy Hunter explained that once Stern announced the NBA had "come up from 47 to 50" on their offer of BRI split, the union was frustrated. The union, it seemed, had assumed that if certain concessions were made on system issues, the NBA would come up from its offer of a 50-50 split. The NBA didn't. Hunter said a 52-48 split was the union's number -- they weren't willing to go any lower.
“We did what [Stern] said [he] needed and it was like their eyes got bigger,” Hunter said, referring to the concessions the union made on system issues. “They just wanted more and more.”
Hunter said the two sides seemed to agree there was no need to continue negotiating if the union was locked in at 52, the NBA at 50. (And please stop trying to apply common sense to this. It's just frustrating. No, there's absolutely no logic forfeiting $400 million dollars for the sake of $100 million per point of BRI split. Yes, these talks have reached a point of ridiculousness. Just yesterday, both sides said -- unequivically -- that there was a deal to be had if each side showed some flexibility.)
Stern didn't mince words during his availability. When asked why the two sides were no longer at the bargaining table, Stern said, "Billy left the room."
Relayed Stern: “Billy Hunter says, ‘We’re not going a dime below 52 … He closed up his book and walked out of the room.”
Of course, those on the union side dispute this claim. Sam Amick of SI.com wrote, "Union source counters Stern's view that talks ended because 'Billy left the room.' There was mutual acknowledgement that the meeting was over."
To paraphrase my favorite comment: Who cares?
Who cares who left the room and why? What's happening here is the destruction of one of the world's most popular leagues by the league itself. I understand domestically there is much apathy for the NBA, but the global following is impressive. And with each "there's no reason to continue negotiating," the NBA is losing another thousand fans.
Maybe all of this was predicted months, even a year, ago. Perhaps this is exactly what the NBA intended: a complete overhaul, a missed season.
It seems that way.
Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.