The goal for Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the players’ union is not to win. It is to serve their constituency.
If their constituency accepts a deal that Hunter, Fisher and other National Basketball Players Association officials have worked so tirelessly to avoid, then it should not translate into a moment of shame.
Considering what the owners wanted (everything) and what they have relented on (a few things) it is not as if these past four months have been in vain.
Amid this recent he said-he said back and forth about Hunter and Fisher, it is overwhelmingly clear that those with political agendas have entered the process, or at least become more vocal (in the most surreptitious of manners).
Just as politicians know that virtually any new tax put up for vote (even one essential to the infrastructure) will fail, so, too, does union leadership remain keenly aware that if the latest owners’ proposal (or almost any owner plan) were to be put up for a vote, it would pass, because it would restart the pay cycle.
So Thursday, the union executive board, but not the entire union, will meet in New York to address the current stalemate.
But what the union and the league truly need is the means to take the current temperature. Is the current deal good enough for the masses? Would it be accepted?
On one hand, a collective-bargaining agreement cannot be voted upon piecemeal. That simply is impractical. There can’t first be a vote on the revenue split, then one on the system issues and then another on ancillary issues (drug testing, minimum draft age, etc.).
But there can be a straw poll on 50-50 or 51-49. And based on some of the Twitter offerings posted by the constituency that Hunter and Fisher represent, good enough appears to be good enough at this stage.
What JaVale McGee was mocked for last month is proving closer to reality. He said “some guys” were ready to fold. “Some” could be moving closer to “many” (or even most) and “fold” might simply have advanced to “relent.”
Over the past few days, there has been a clandestine move afoot to paint Fisher, Hunter or others (agents, publicists) as the villains on the union side.
Yet if a majority of those in the union are good to go, then Hunter and Fisher should go with an agreement they personally might not find palatable.
Because this is not about them. This is about the union. As a whole.
If Hunter and Fisher have already crafted a deal the majority of players are willing to accept, then they have won. They would have fulfilled their mandate.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.