Players Kicked Off Talks By Asking How To End The Lockout

lockoutHoward Beck has been on top of the lockout like few others.  And in his latest piece, he shares a nugget that may explain why labor talks have been chugging along lately.

When N.B.A. labor talks resumed Wednesday, for an extended session in Midtown Manhattan, officials from the players union opened with a broad premise: Tell us what it will take to end the lockout and save the 2011-12 season.

It was an open-ended request for ideas, an effort to move the conversation away from long-rejected proposals and to find some basis for common ground, according to a person who was briefed on the meeting.

The union’s request sparked a discussion that lasted five and a half hours, which in turn led to another five-and-a-half-hour session Thursday. Both sides declined to offer details, judgments or predictions, and they cautioned the public not to draw any conclusions. But for the first time in two years, there seems to be movement, or at least a constructive dialogue.

This can mistakenly be interpreted as the players caving, as if they stumbled in on their knees, hands cupped, begging for a solution as they died slow deaths. 

“Oh please good sirs… tell us what needs to be done to end this thing… we’re whithering away!!!”

No.  I see this as one side finally saying “alright, enough is enough.  Let’s start talking.”  By coming out and showing a willingness to bargain, actual bargaining started to happen.  

Amazing concept, huh? 

With that one open-ended question, talks started to move.  And while they may not be done yet, they’re close enough for someone like Chris Sheridan to put his odds on the season starting on time at 75-80%.  Those are some pretty sweet odds, especially when you consider where we were a week ago. 

All it takes is one side being open to talking.  That works in just about any argument.  When you start with “how can we make this work,” you start to get somewhere even if the other side’s answer doesn’t work for you.  Because then you can say “we can’t do that, but how about if we do this?” 

And that, my friends, is a negotiation.  It’s what should have been happening for two years, but only started happening two days ago.  Better late than never, I guess.  It’s just frustrating that it took the actual imminent threat of losing the season to make it happen.