Agents are pushing behinds the scenes to decertify. Players are pushing on Twitter to play basketball. Frustration everywhere, including David Stern’s with hard-liners, is pushing the season to the brink.
People are tired. Fans are pissed. And we’re about to figure out if the weariness is going to let the players hand control over to the agents and blow up the season, or if they’re going to give in and just take the offer on the table.
Under a microscope, the deal on the table will continue to make all of them very rich men. Even the player who makes the least money will make more playing basketball than all but a fraction of the world population. And since they don’t remain rich men unless they get paid by the even richer men, a push to just vote on whatever the owners present seem like a very possible outcome this week.
But pull back and you’ll see a different story. Yes, players will become millionaires but the owners are railroading them. They’re pushing a system, under the guise of a poor economy, which radically shifts money in to their pockets. Yes, they’re the owners, they should try to make money. That much is understood. But this is an attempt at doing more than giving everyone a fair shot to make a few bucks.
If that’s what the owners wanted, we’d have a deal by now. They could have gotten 5% more of the more than four billion dollars the league would probably make with a full season that started on time. They have gotten systematic concessions that would have made paying the tax a bigger deal. They would have put some more limits on player movement. But that’s not what the owners wanted.
This is, and always has been about breaking the union’s will. And it is, and always has been why I rail on these guys so hard.
Fair is fair. I’m all for fair. A 57/43 split? Not fair. I get that. But players are both employees and the product. Without them, there’s no league. If you replace the current 450 NBA players with the next 450 best basketball players in the world, you’ll have some pretty crappy basketball. Well, you’ll basically have the D-League. Put the 450 current NBA players with 30 new owners in new cities and you have a league we’ll all watch and that will, eventually, generate NBA money.
So I think fair is something above 50/50 for the players. I think the deal that’s been hammered out so far is a little less than fair, but its as fair as its going to get. And unless the the hard liners pushing the season over a cliff have an epiphany, they’re going to force the players to pull an Andrew Bynum. They’re going to run up the score to a point where enough is enough, and instead of voting on a deal, players will vote to decertify. They’ll take the fight to court, we’ll lose the season, the players will still end up getting the shaft and no one will end up truly winning.
The players are going to meet this week. Chances are they are going to vote on something. Owners may have pushed this thing too far, though, and forced the players to vote on the wrong thing. David Stern empowered the hard-liners and created a Frankenstein monster that has grown out of control. It’s up to Stern to stop them, get them back in line, and save this thing.
If he doesn’t, the Andrew Bynum hard foul is coming. No one wins when that happens.