Commissioner David Stern has long warned that once games are missed, both sides might stiffen their proposals in hopes of recovering what’s been lost, which is why he said last week he feared games could be lost through Christmas without a deal this week.
After three days and 30 hours of meetings with a federal mediator, negotiations fell apart when union officials said they were told they must commit to a 50-50 split of revenues before owners would agree to discuss the salary cap system.
“Right now, they’re saying it’s got to be a precondition. If we’re going to meet, you’ve got to agree to accept 50-50. So as long as that edict is out there, then when are we going to meet?” Hunter said. “We’re saying we’re unwilling to meet unless we can talk about the system independent of the number.”
There is no indication owners will be prepared to go beyond a 50-50 split, and with players currently at 52.5 or 53, the sides are about $100 million apart on an annual basis.
Unfortunately, for each side in this dispute the “lockout” was never ever about, “Doing what is best for the game of basketball.”
There’s another thing that could be happening, too.
Remember The Decision? That night in July 2010, something happened that angered basketball fans like nothing else. It can be framed as LeBron James being egotistical, or cowardly, or whatever else. But it can also be framed as a young black man just being sick of doing what old white guys tell him to do.
There was a playbook for free agency, a procedure, some decorum. And James tossed it. No, after earning Dan Gilbert the sun, the moon and the stars, he does not also owe him a phone call. No, he doesn’t have to let some other, whiter, older entity control the production of his announcement. No, he doesn’t have to stick to the storyline of local hero, or even player. He really does have the power to play GM, to assemble a super team, and that’s what he would do.
The message to a lot of fans was that James just got it all wrong. But the message to a lot of players was that James did what 1,000 players have been dreaming of doing for years — he acted fully empowered — and it’s hard to say he failed at it. He made his millions, and the Finals. His team is intact. His business life is sound. He’ll be contending for championships for years.
It’s a business revolution with young black men, basketball players, in the corner offices. A new way of doing things, long overdue, and happening now.
And maybe that’s what Stern encountered in that hotel room in New York: a new generation of fully empowered players who no longer believe they have to conform to much of anything.
On Friday, a role player for a middling team got a surprise phone call, from just about the biggest name in the sport — somebody who had never called him before. The message: Hold firm at 53. We’re not caving. Hang in there. It wasn’t the only call of its kind, and when you talk to players now there is religious fervor, around the number 53, and around not giving owners any freebies on the other issues.
Owners are indignant that they have endured dreadful losses that must be righted. Players, meanwhile, are indignant that compared to the old CBA every concession to date has come from them. The issues are sounding more religious than ever, and it’s doubtful that, at the moment, anyway, either Hunter or Stern is capable of rallying his followers to build a bridge to the other side.
And if it’s driven by players’ blossoming and deep-rooted self-determination, then they can’t be expected to budge. I just hope, for the NBA’s sake, that they chose the correct line to draw in the sand.
is that there will probably be no 2011-2012 NBA season with each side involved in the current lockout unprepared to meet the other at the halfway point between 47.0% [i.e. the NBA owners' best offer] and 53.0% [i.e. the NBAPA's minimum requirement], in terms of Basketball Related Income [BRI].
If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you should already be quite familiar with the utmost level of R.E.S.P.E.C.T yours truly has for the best run organization in the NBA:
Kudos to Peter Holt, Gregg Popovich, RC Buford & Co. for:
- the discovery of Gary Neal [OG/SF]
- the decision to insert DeJuan Blair [PF] into the Starting Five beside Timmy D [C]
- the decision to stick with Richard Jefferson [SF] this past off season … and keep him in the 1st unit … when many other so-called NBA analysts were advising you to jettison him, asap
- the decision to stick with Tony Parker [PG] this past off season when many other so-called NBA analysts were advising you to trade him away in return for other assets in order to re-stock your cupboard for the future
- the decision to reduce the minutes allocated on a nightly basis to Timmy D [C], who remains one of the best players in the NBA
- the decision to use Manu Ginobili [OG/SF], as the Starting Off Guard
- the decision to keep George Hill [PG] in the 2nd unit, as the heir apparent to TP
- the decision to selection James Anderson [SF], as the Big 12 POY, with the No. 20 Selection in the 1st Round of the 2010 NBA Draft
- the decision to shift Matt Bonner [PF] to the 2nd unit, as the team’s top perimeter shooting Big Man
- the decision to shift Antonio McDyess [C] to the 2nd unit, as the team’s best mid-range shooting Big Man
- the decision to gradually add Tiago Splitter [C] into the mix this season, as a part-time role player who is going to be a very solid replacement for Timmy D down-the-road
- making the following list of player personnel decisions, in the month of November, which involved Garrett Temple, Alonzo Gee, Bobby Simmons, Danny Green, Ume Idoka and Chris Quinn
While other franchises in the NBA, either:
A. Languish forever in the lowest tier of the league;
B. Are semi-permanetly entrenched in its middle tier, as a Treadmill Team;
… It is simply a joy to watch this outfit Go To Work! … 24-7-365.
You were told in this space that the outcome of a playoff series can sometimes be determined by the ability of a team to make the correct game-to-game … and, THEN, in-game … adjustments, based on what its opponent’s specific strengths and weaknesses are and the best possible use of its own personnel:
1. Sample sizes are rendered virtually meaningless;
2. League-wide averages are rendered virtually meaningless; and,
3. Creating and minimizing individual mis-matches against the best teams in the league – and a particular opponent of high calibre – are absolutely crucial;
… when it comes to determining accurately which teams, coaches and, therefore, players will advance in the playoffs, or not.
During the pre-season …
You were told in this space that the 2009-2010 NBA championship would, in all likelihood, be won by 1 of the following 5 teams:
Boston Celtics [i.e. depending upon the recovery of Kevin Garnett from injury]
Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs
Nothing which has happened since that time has fundamentally changed that perception.
Right now …
The 4 best teams in the Eastern Conference are the Cleveland Cavaliers [4-1], Orlando Magic [4-0], Boston Celtics [4-1] and Atlanta Hawks [2-2].
The 4 best teams in the Western Conference are the Los Angeles Lakers [3-2], San Antonio Spurs [3-2], Utah Jazz [3-1] and Phoenix Suns [3-2].
Barring any further major injuries …
This year’s NBA champions will, in all likelihood, be 1 of the following 3 teams:
Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson [and Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Jerry Buss]
Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy [and Otis Smith and Richard DeVos]
San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich [and RC Buford and Peter Holt]
… none of which happens to be the Cleveland Cavaliers with Mike Brown [and Danny Ferry and Daniel Gilbert].
Basketball is the ultimate TEAM Sport … with each player on the court having to be able to function adequately on Offense, on Defense, and in terms of Rebounding, in conjunction with the sound strategic and tactical decision-making skills of an elite level head coach, general manager and owner.
Those who think that basketball can be properly understood by examining the statistical norms, averages, outliers, etc., associated with representative “sample sizes”, “numerical formulas”, and all manner of “efficiency ratings,” are simply wasting their [and your] time.
Basketball is a game of:
… the most important of which are the “approximately 6″ located between the ears of a team’s owner, general manager, head coach and 8-9 regular rotation players.
When Spurs majority owner Peter Holt walked into the room for the NBA Board of Governors meeting here earlier this week, he was greeted with a cacophony of catcalls and good-natured ribbing.
His fellow owners couldn’t believe the supposedly thrifty Holt had signed off on one of the most expensive offseason makeovers in recent Spurs memory.
“They all think I’m cheap as hell,” Holt said.
Not anymore. In the span of less than a month, Holt and his ownership group have done some serious damage to their miserly reputation.
In the eye of an uncertain economy that prompted many NBA teams to put a lock on their wallets this offseason, the Spurs went barreling past the luxury tax threshold to acquire Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess.
The Spurs already are about $8 million over the dollar-for-dollar tax line, with still more roster pieces to add. The final tariff bill is likely to breach $10 million, on top of a payroll pushing $80 million.
In his first interview since the offseason began, Holt this week explained the reasoning behind the Spurs’ out-of-character summertime spending spree. In Vegas terms, it was time to go all in.
Whether or not the San Antonio Spurs actually win the 2009-2010 NBA title really isn’t the point.
What matters most of all is Mr. Holt’s versatility, intelligence, commitment to excellence and … perhaps, No. 1 on the list … actual Level of R.E.S.P.E.CT. for  the Spurs loyal fans,  RC Buford & Gregg Popovich,  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker, et al.
As that great, down-home, southern gentleman-philospher, Bum Phillips [Houston Oilers], once said, about the defining characteristic of a fabulous former NFL head coach by the name of Don Shula [Miami Dolphins]:
“He’s so good, he can take his’n and beat yours’n; then take yours’n and beat his’n.”
That, dear friends, right there, is a Prime Example of A Man who actually knows what he’s doing in the Great Arena of Life.
For Raptors fans who think that the recent 4-team trade was in fact based on the commitment of MLSE to do what’s necessary to win a League Championship, one day in the not-too-distant future:
Colangelo still tinkering with Raptors roster “You have to find a way to get the right pieces in this year and roll forward and keep below that luxury tax level,” Colangelo said. “It’s going to get tighter and it’s something to contend with.”
you SHOULD seriously re-evaluate that specific line of thinking.
When you hear Bryan Colangelo speak next of DOING WHAT’S NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THAT SPECIFIC GOAL, down-the-road, please feel free to notify yours truly [perhaps, via email] right away!
The Raptors’ GM … and chief representative of MLSE, on the hoops side of the operation … talks, repeatedly, about being “committed to building a winning team” BUT he NEVER EVER takes the NEXT STEP and mentions something about,
“Doing what’s necessary to actually have a legitimate shot at winning the League Championship.”
What’s the reason for this?
Does he actually know what this involves, in today’s NBA, regarding such things as: i. Basketball Philosophy, ii. Coaching Philosophy, iii. Player Personnel, and iv. The Financial Commitment Required [etc.]?
The teams that are “honestly” trying to WIN the Championship in the NBA, these days, know full well that in order to give themselves a “real” chance at accomplishing this goal, they are going to have to accept the fact that they will be paying The Luxury Tax … which is really Nothing More than the “current toll fare” … in return for The Right to be able to drive on that specific Super-Highway.
The highest level of competition possible is where the Big Boyz play and that’s the going freight just to ante into the game.
The San Antonio Spurs … located in a small-to-mid sized market, but with a 1st-class ownership group [expertly led by Peter Holt] and a Top Notch GM/Head Coach tandem [i.e. RC Buford & Gregg Popovich] … are a prime example of a team that is now fully aware of this and, therefore, chose to act accordingly this off season … i.e. as you can plainly see from their recent decisions to:
* Retain their best 3 players [i.e. Time Duncan, Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker]
* Retain a veteran like Michael Finley
* Select 3 new players in the 2009 NBA Draft [i.e. DeJuan Blair, No. 37, Jack McClinton, No. 51, and Nando De Colo, No. 53] who are ready to compete right away
* Trade for Richard Jefferson [i.e. another high end player], and
* Sign Antonio McDyess [UFA]
While the Toronto Raptors, on the other hand … chose to go a different route, replete with a Magician’s Wand & Cloak, a rabbit, a head stand, a glass of bottled water, a still dry shirt – with an exceedingly high collar - and an accompanying 3-piece band of partners in crime.
There are just a few teams in this League that are legitimately trying to WIN It All [i.e. Category One] …
then, there’s Everybody Else [i.e. who can be further sub-divided into two additional specific Categories: Two. Those trying to field a highly "competitive" team, in the process of turning a profit, annually; and, Three. Those simply trying to survive in hopes of maybe turning a profit].
DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THAT WHAT THE RAPTORS DID WITH THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THIS 4-TEAM TRADE WAS DESIGNED TO SHIFT THEM FROM CATEGORY TWO INTO CATEGORY ONE.
There in the cover photo was his boss, Mark Cuban, rejoicing after Jason Terry’s game-winning shot against Minnesota. Arms raised, jumping, screaming, the frozen moment is vintage Cuban – suspended in time, if not exactly midair.
“I told my wife, ‘That picture couldhave been taken 10 years ago,’ ” Ussery said. “No difference at all. There’s your owner, with his 6-inch vertical leap.”
Cuban’s youthful appearance, drive and exuberance have changed little since, at age 41, he signed a letter of intent to purchase the Mavericks on Jan. 3, 2000.
In reality, he is now 50, a married father of two girls, has an artificial left hip and according to Forbes, is at least $137 million lighter in the wallet where the Mavericks are concerned.
“I’m not going to comment on our P&L [profit and loss] specifics,” Cuban said. “But I have always said I’m in this to win, not make money.”
For most pro sports owners, such a bottom line would be cause for alarm. In Cuban’s case, the subject evokes a sweat-dripping shrug from atop the StairMaster outside the Mavericks’ locker room, where he churns before most home games.
Tonight, his Mavericks host San Antonio in Game 3 of a best-of-seven, first-round NBA playoff series that is tied, 1-1. For some teams, extended playoff runs make the difference between loss and profit, or between profit and prosperity.
Not so the Mavericks. Even though this is their ninth straight playoff appearance, Cuban recalls finishing in the black only twice during his tenure, although according to Forbes’ figures it happened only once.
Until your favourite NBA team has an owner with a similar raison d’etre as Mark Cuban, and the other individuals whose team’s names are on this list, you can simply forget about ever winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Leadership in a pro sports organization starts at the very top, with an unwavering Commitment to WINNING the League Championship, not to being in ‘the black’ each and every year.
[PS. Which teams in the NBA today do NOT have a sole owner who is in a similar well-healed state like Mark Cuban? or, Wyc Grousbeck? or, Dr. Jerry Buss? or, Peter Holt? or, Mickey Arison? or, Jerry Reinsdorf?, or Paul Allen? or, etc.]