The players were put to an ultimatum by David Stern and the NBA owners. Take it or leave it. The players have decided to leave it. The players have also decided that they will start attacking the NBA with an antitrust lawsuit and by dissolving their union. So forget about any kind of backup plans for getting games in or how many games we are going to see this year. For now, all that can be left alone just like the negotiations between the hardball playing owners and the players who served them with a “disclaimer of interest” today.
Let’s not bother talking about anything conclusive today. Too many times over the course of this process, we’ve listened to reductionist theories about owners just caring about money, players only caring about money, nobody caring about fans or arena workers, owners who paid too much for their franchises, franchises that aren’t businesses but pieces of art or yachts, players who take being millionaires for granted, owners who take being billionaires for granted. It is a combination of all that stuff. The negotiation – like pretty much any and every negotiation – is between two self-interested parties that haven’t been able to find common ground.
The bottom line is this. This season is in jeopardy. Regardless of who is “winning” the negotiation, everyone is losing now. At least I think that right now.
For the owners, I have no doubt that pushing the players to the brink was part of their strategy. I am not so sure pushing it to this point with anti-trust lawsuits and the dissolution of the union was part of the strategy. Owners could sit back and keep their money, not paying players during negotiations and have the upper hand with an ultimatum ace up their sleeve. Those contract dollars for players are presumably dollars the players can’t get back. Now that the ace has been played on third street, we’re still waiting for the river card to see who “wins.”
This thing has gone nuclear and the legal fees start being threatened if not pile up in all actuality. That is money that the owners will never be able to recoup. Maybe this is still a part of the owners’ “investment” in their future, but I have a tough time thinking most NBA owners are happy that their little ultimatum ploy didn’t end up working.
Maybe I’m wrong. I admit fully that I don’t have a cell phone full of sources feeding me information. Then again as we sit back and look at columns written transparently on top of information sourced by either players / agents or team owners / management, maybe it gives me better perspective than if I was tainted in the information wars. That’s yet another war that doesn’t seem much worth winning at this point.
All is quiet now in basketball arenas around the country. The only action will be in court rooms, apparently. Maybe we’ll see you next year? Maybe we’ll see you next season? I don’t use this phrase like a weapon with sarcastic bullets because I truly think the game was broken and needed to be fixed. I hope this is all worth it in the end.