Steve Nash

Winderman: Tone of labor talks could lead to fewer player/fan interactions

Leave a comment

The traditional defining moment of the end of NBA lockout is the handshake between David Stern and Billy Hunter, followed by some sort of blathering about the “partnership” going forward.

Until now, with a defined percentage of revenues going to players, there was something to be said about the legitimacy of that partnership. When league revenues went up, the cap went up and the players shared in the growth.

When revenues declined or remained flat, the escrow withheld from players’ salaries would offset the shortfall.

But now, as the parties resume negotiations, there is talk of a differing approach. The league still is tying the agreement to percentages, but one formula being proposed would set a percentage for the players at the start of a new agreement and essentially then hold firm to that actual annual cash payout. As league revenues grow, the players’ share would not grow commensurately.

And that could change the dynamic dramatically.

No longer would the players be given the opportunity, as the parlance goes, to “grow the game” for mutual benefit.

That, in turn, could turn what mostly has been cordial into something more contentious.

Among the secrets of the CBA are mandatory appearances by players on behalf of teams, yes, including many of those supposed feel-good interactions.

For all the spin by the various PR machines, the players are required, yes required, to make those appearances.

The previous agreement called for 12 appearances per season, corporate and fan events mandating an hour of the player’s time.

Beyond that, the previous CBA called for four “connects,” meetings of 30 minutes or less with fans or fan groups.

While operating the league and union as a true partnership, it not only was not unusual for players to stay longer than required at such appearances, but players often would willingly exceed those 16 required appearances.

That, after all, is what partners do.

But when growing the game only grows one side of the equation, one has to wonder how far the good will would extend.

In recent years, the notion of partnership has fueled the NBA’s growth. The last thing the league needs now is a hollow handshake at the end of this contentiousness.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

1 Comment

Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

2 Comments

Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

Leave a comment

Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

2 Comments

Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.