Derek Fisher speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York

NBA players’ union stresses unity after meeting

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Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter didn’t lead the players in a rendition of “Kumbaya” at the post-meeting press conference, but it was pretty close.

After stalled out negotiations with the league followed by days of stories about how a group of powerful agents are trying to force decertification on the NBA players union — to break up the union against the leadership’s will — it should be no shock that the theme after Thursday’s players’ meeting in Vegas was unity.

As in we are shoulder-to-shoulder and not fighting amongst ourselves. So stop asking.

Following a three-hour closed-door meeting, players came into a post-meeting press conference wearing “Stand” T-shirts. NBA union president Fisher said that the players are solid and standing firm. (Quotes via tweets from TNT’s and’s David Aldridge)

“there is not the fracture in our group that has in some ways been reported.”

“If the owners were looking for some kind of break in the ranks…that was put to bed.”

As for decertification, union executive director Billy Hunter said it is was not really discussed, is not in the immediate plans, but not off the table either. Basically, that remains the union’s last resort.

“we have all of our options on the table…we will review and assess all of them as time goes on.”

The NFL players union decertified immediately after that league’s lockout began (clearing the way for players to sue the league on anti-trust grounds). But NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith spoke to the NBA players Thursday and told them decertification is not a “silver bullet.” He said solidarity mattered more.

About 40 players were at the meeting (not all the guys in Vegas for the “lockout league” even bothered to show up) and while the discussion was “lively” the message the union tried to send was unmistakable.

The owners likely don’t buy into the unity dog and pony show. Especially when you see tweets like this from Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix while Fisher and Hunter are still speaking?

While Fisher and Hunter spoke of solidarity today, more players are leaning towards decertification, according to two veteran players.

What all this ultimately means for fans that the current stalemate may last a whole lot longer. Which sucks.

Lucky? Klay Thompson reminds Doc Rivers which team lost to Rockets

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There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.

The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.

Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via

– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”

Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.

If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.

They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.

All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.

Dwyane Wade serious as mentor, teaching Justise Winslow post moves

Third day of Miami Heat camp 10/1/2015
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Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.

Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.

Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.

“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.

“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”

This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.

It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.