After every National Basketball Players Association meeting of any size, union leadership and players have stood together and preached unity. Often wearing matching T-shirts, because nothing says unity like matching clothing.
But this time the symbolism and words were needed.
With players smacking union leadership publicly and signs of division everywhere, the union’s executive committee stood side-by-side after a meeting Thursday and again preached unity heading into a weekend bargaining session with the league. Union president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter again denied that there is any rift between to them.
“We’ve had no problems, and that’s the reality,” Hunter told the Associated Press.
Asked if he promised NBA negotiators he’d be able to deliver a 50-50 deal to players, Fisher said, “No I did not.”
The players, however kept their “we’re nowhere close to a deal” face on. They said it was system and percentage of basketball related income combined, not just one simple thing that keeps the two sides apart.
“Obviously we’re going to have individual members in individual sets of circumstances that want to get back to play. We want to get back to play,” Fisher said. “But we realize the ramifications of agreeing to a bad deal at this moment. … This particular collective bargaining agreement will forever impact the circumstances of NBA basketball players. We can’t rush into a deal we feel is a bad deal just to save this season.”
Hopefully the union did find some unity in the last 24-48 hours, because a fractured union can’t make a labor deal. Maybe they were never as fractured as it appeared. Who knows? We do know the two sides start talking again on Saturday and we’ll see if they can finalize everything and get the season rolling.