I’ll say this for the NBA players union, they have revived the lost art of letter writing.
Once again National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter have reached out to their constituency with a letter. Although clearly the message of that letter (which they knew would be leaked) was aimed at David Stern and the NBA owners as much as the players.
The good news is that the letter says a “deal is close,” something that echoes Hunter’s statements Tuesday that they just need to put the ball in the end zone from the 3-yard line.
But the letter also states that the players feel they have been the ones doing the giving so far — reducing their share of “basketball related income” or BRI, the money that flows into the league — and they have gone as far as they can.
In letter union sent to players today, Hunter and Fisher say: “Yesterday, the owners gave us an opportunity to back down. We refused.”… “Reducing our share of BRI by 7 points to 50% — a level we have not received since the early 1990’s — is not a fair split.”
In letter Y! obtained, Hunter reminds players that they’ve offered owners $185M per year giveback worth $1.1 billion over 6 year deal…. “The clear message we have received from the players, and the one we will heed, is not to back down.”
The players got 57 percent of BRI in the last labor deal. This letter said the players would be open to a deal that starts with them getting 52 percent and could go as high as 54 percent.
Reports are the owners offered a 50/50 split, which was really a 49 to 51 percent range.
That certainly leaves the two sides close. It is conceivable they could get a deal done by this weekend, before Monday when Stern said the league would have to cancel the first two weeks of regular season games. But as of now no talks are scheduled.
This letter is sending the message that the owners are going to have to make the next move. The question is will they, or can Stern even sell some of the hard line owners on the deal?