Civility is nice, but will there be NBA labor progress?

Leave a comment

In the last two weeks there have been three long meetings between the lead negotiators of the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (the union).

What has mattered most — what has sparked optimism in some corners — is the lack of rancor. After early meetings there was real frustration and anger on both sides as they dug their heels in for what seemed destined to be a long lockout. But the meetings the last few weeks have been long, filled with talks of ideas, but not a lot of animosity. Plus, both sides have said little to the media about the talks. No public pot shots.

This is all a step forward. It’s much better than where the league was at this point in 1998, points out Howard Beck at the New York Times. During the last lockout, the two sides had met once at this point and would not again until October and were taking public pot shots at one another (and in the players’ case, shooting themselves in the foot).

But is there real, meaningful progress toward a deal?

That we find out in the next couple days. First, larger negotiating bodies will join the talks Tuesday in New York and hear what kind of broad strokes have been discussed the past few weeks. There is not expected to be a formal offer, just outlines. Then whatever is covered today will be discussed at an owners meeting in Dallas Thursday and in Las Vegas with the players the same day.

Beck said his sources warned not to confuse civility with progress.

“Anything that tamps down the rhetoric is a positive,” a person who participated in the rancorous 1998 talks said. “I think generally, the rhetoric is detrimental to the process.”

But, the person added, “I don’t necessarily think that a lessening of the rhetoric means there’s been any progress.”

The two sides have yet to exchange actual proposals on the key issue — how to both define and divide up Basketball Related Income. Once that issue is resolved, other issues like what kind of salary cap to have will fall into place more quickly. But the two sides are reportedly still far apart on the key issue.

Maybe the civility has led to some rough outlines that can be fashioned into a deal in the coming weeks. Maybe. We’ll have a better idea about that in the next few days.

Jusuf Nurkic trolls Nuggets, tells former team to enjoy their summer (VIDEO)

AP
Leave a comment

Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.

On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.

Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.

Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.

Via Twitter:

Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.

Still, that is ice cold.

James Johnson decimates Marcus Morris with huge one-handed dunk (VIDEO)

Twitter
Leave a comment

Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.

The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.

With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.

This is what happened next:

Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.

Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)

Twitter
Leave a comment

The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.

The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.

That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.

Via Twitter:

Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.

Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

2 Comments

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.