David Stern got his chance on WFAN Thursday, a day after Billy Hunter expressed optimism while spinning the same rhetoric we’ve heard for months. Stern got his own rhetoric on, but more importantly, he dropped this raven on the window sill.
So that’s how it’s going to be, eh, NBA? You’re stealing Christmas? You want to take Christmas away from us, in October?
Stern’s comment is alarming, which makes you wonder how accurate it is. Look, the two sides are miles apart, even if they’re feet apart on BRI. There’s no way they’re closing the gap in five days when they’re not even meeting before then. So how are they going to close it? They’re meeting with a mediator on Monday. In two days he’s supposed to clear up three years of distrust and dispute? Furthermore, Stern waited until just this week to cancel games in less than a month. So why then would Christmas be in so much danger a week later?
The answer comes in that Stern’s applying pressure, just as he did with the threat of canceling games, and the bigger concern is that if a deal doesn’t get done next week, this thing goes into the courts. Both sides know it, both sides are afraid of it, both sides are trying to avoid it.
Stern also said that it was the players’ side who brought up the 50/50 compromise, the second time he’s made that assertion which the union disputes in the past month. He then claimed that the union’s “negotiator” which is code for Billy Hunter, could not get the deal approved by the union, with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett going into their “gnash teeth” mode. It was a pretty brutal undercut of Hunter, another sign of Stern’s maneuverability in the ring.
We thought this thing was going to get uglier. We were right.