We know David Stern. Or, at least we think we know David Stern. We kind of have a picture of him as the smooth lawyer who plays the PR game when the cameras are on then is blunt and plays hardball at the negotiating table.
But how much do we really know about the guy across the table from him?
Billy Hunter has a fascinating life story, has the trust of most players (if not their agents) and has been at this table with Stern before. But what do we really know about how he negotiates. The Portland Tribune talked to some former NBA players to find out.
They say he is charismatic and knowledgeable. One called him enough of a “wild card” that he comes off as a bit scary to the league, a good thing for the players.
“He has his own agenda,” one former player tells me. “He’s about Billy. He doesn’t have the overall well-being of all the players in mind.”
Stern himself has tried to play to that notion, trying to suggest that the rank-and-file players would be the losers, that they are the ones who would miss out if stars start going overseas.
It doesn’t matter, this isn’t like last lockout where the union will show cracks. At least not for so long the owners solidarity will be showing cracks as well. The players have known what is coming for a long time and are better prepared this time around. They are more unified. They are better informed.
Everyone may not love his plan (going to the National Labor Relations Board), but the players are behind Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher (the union president). If the owners really are in this to break the union, this lockout is going to be longer and uglier than anyone anticipated.
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.
The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.
Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.
With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.
Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.
Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.
When Stephen Curry wore a headband through the All-Star Game last weekend, West coach Steve Kerr jokingly called him “Seth” all night.
Dallas’ Seth Curry came out of the week-long break playing like an All-Star. He dropped 31 on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night, a career high for him. He hit 13-of-17 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, but did a lot of his damage in the midrange.
It wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves got a comfortable 97-84 win behind 27 points from Andrew Wiggins and 26 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nerlens Noel was not yet with his new team in time to play for the Mavs in this game.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points despite foul trouble and the San Antonio Spurs shook off the rust from a nine-day layoff to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 on Friday night for their third straight win.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in his return from a 15-game absence because of a fractured finger. LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 12 rebounds.
Blake Griffin scored 29 points for the Clippers, who have dropped consecutive games to the league’s two winningest teams since the All-Star break ended. They lost by 10 points at Golden State a night earlier. The Spurs have the league’s second-best record at 44-13.
Chris Paul added 17 points in his return after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.