After David Stern’s Magical Media Tour on Thursday and Friday, the players needed to respond before a mediator puts the lock on both sides next week. And after making an “armed and dangerous” reference, union executive director Billy Hunter continued along with union president Derek Fisher in pushing back hard against the commish. Various quotes from the AP and other sources:
Fisher expressed optimism that there would be a season, which is contrasted by the dour approach of both Stern and Hunter. Except Fisher’s assertion is based more on calling what he feels is Stern’s bluff.
“My gut tells me that there’s no way Commissioner Stern and the NBA would damage their business by making us miss a whole season,” Fisher said Friday after a union meeting at the Beverly Hilton.
Regarding David Stern’s assertion that the absence of a deal on Tuesday could lead the cancellation of games at Christmas, nearly two months away, Fisher shrugged it off as “arbitrary.”
“That’s an arbitrary deadline just to throw out on Commissioner Stern’s part,” Fisher said. “We don’t see it that way. That’s just arbitrary, with no other purpose than to sway player sentiment.”
Fisher also was quick to shut down talk of JaVale McGee’s comments about there being “guys ready to fold in the room,” a quote that McGee later denied on Twitter… despite about eight reporters having heard, and recorded, the comments. Fisher did not exactly cover McGee’s tail publicly.
“The person that spent the least amount of time in the room has no ability to make that statement,” Fisher said.
Billy Hunter commented that for nearly two years, the league had been pushing for “guaranteed profitability,” a term the union had shelved for several months, only to bring it back with a vengeance. Hunter said the union replied that a system that provided each NBA team with a guaranteed average profit of $10 to $30 million “simply did not exist.”
If you’re wondering if it was Rhetoric Day in the NBA Lockout, it was. Both sides were volleying shots at one another. But with McGee’s random and profoundly stupid comment, the NBPA still found a way to lose the day. The pressure is on players to comment whenever they’re at an event. The owners face no such pressure. And as a result, we’re learning why the union has been reticent to put its players first and forefront.
Finally, it’s important to note the disappointing turnout. Less than 30 players attended the meeting, with most players visiting colleges for Midnight Madness (Dwyane Wade, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins just to name a few).