Right now, you need to treat every rumor you hear about the NBA labor negotiations like you treat (or should treat) every rumor the week before the NBA trade deadline — assume it is someone trying to gain leverage.
For example, when we all hear that player “X” is close to being traded then suddenly reports come out there is another suitor in the mix. That is an agent or a GM trying to pressure the first team into giving up more. Every leak is done with a purpose.
Which brings us to the latest report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo — that the owners have made their last, best offer.
The NBA owners never wanted to go north of 48.5 percent for the players’ share of the basketball-related income (BRI), league sources say, and commissioner David Stern had lean support when he pushed the most recent offer to 50 percent. There hasn’t been one source in ownership, in management, who believes the players will get that offer again – at least no time soon. Now, the union has boxed itself in with declarations it won’t go that far to get a deal with the owners, so there’s a real chance these two sides are hunkered down again.
Truth be told, the commissioner probably pushed his owners as far as they’re willing to go now – to really try to end this lockout – and it didn’t happen.
You can also be sure that the reports in the same story of how stars like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant taking a hard line were leaked out there to show that the union is rock solid and not about to give another inch.
Both sides want to paint the image that they are dug in like a World War I battlefield and are not coming out of their trench.
I’m not questioning Wojnarowski, who is very much the professional and was certainly told these things and should report them. I’m not even questioning if there are nuggets of truth in there, I’m sure there are.
But right now, it is all spin. It’s about trying to move the needle by leaks. It is all about both the players and the owners trying to win the public relations battle, to win the hearts and minds of the fans.
The only thing that wins the hearts and minds of the fans is games. Fans don’t care who wins the negotiations. Cut off regular season games and there are no winners, only losers. Both the players and the owners. And it will take years to recover. That’s not spin and both sides would do well to remember it next time they talk.