HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For anyone that decided to parachute into the NBA lockout saga today, you made it just in time for a rather interesting edition of “He said, He said.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Boston Globe that the union cancelled a scheduled meeting. Players Association officials disputed that claim to Yahoo! Sports, saying there was no meeting with Stern and the league’s negotiating team scheduled, and then countered with this twist:
“The NBA refused to have a staff meeting [Thursday],” a union official said. “Billy Hunter has been with the [National Labor Relations Board] the entire week, including Thursday, and the NBPA was told that Stern would be completely unavailable to meet for the next two weeks.”
The truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) is clearly somewhere in the middle of this seemingly harmless mix up. Stern and Hunter are big boys, so whatever tweaking that goes on between the two sides is tolerable so long as the end result is one that leaves everyone smiling.
Plus, with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on tap Friday night and Hunter with the National Labor Relations Board all week, it’s obvious there were not going to be any big time face-to-face negotiations this week. If a smaller session was proposed, by either side, and then scrapped for whatever reasons, we can live with that … provided there are more substantive talks planned for the near future.
Besides, after weeks of grim news, Stern did offer some encouraging news to the Globe when he said that he expects there will eventually be a deal struck that would keep us from hoops Armageddon for the 2011-12 season:
“I expect that we’ll make a deal because the alternative is very destructive,” he said. “It’s destructive of $2 billion worth of player salaries and it’s destructive most important to our fans of the game. And if it spirals badly everyone gets hurt. But in some ways I worry because the players have more to lose, especially those in the later stages of their career. So we’re going to do everything we can when the rhetoric slows down to get this thing back on track.”
That’s a much different tone than what we heard in the hours after the first full negotiating session between the two sides just a couple of weeks ago, when the league filed that unfair labor practice charge against the union with the NLRB to prevent a potential decertification.
That’s a much rosier outlook than what Hunter provided last week, when he suggested to a conference at the National Bar Association in Baltimore that the 2011-12 season could be in jeopardy if things don’t change drastically in the coming weeks.
Obviously, things might get a little messier before they get better.
But at least they’re talking … well, sort of.