NEW YORK — Billy Hunter stormed out of last Friday’s meetings refusing to go below the 52 percent mark when it comes to the players percentage of Basketball Related Income. Today an unnamed player according to a Yahoo! Sports article, said that “will never happen again.”
Which begs the question: is Billy Hunter losing the union he once had firmly on his side?
It’s just the latest twist in what has been the most boring lockout ever to hit humanity in it’s face. You’d think with all the twists, turns and drama that it would make for great reality television.
Instead it has been a lot of behind the scenes, mafia-like bargaining which has resulted in the cancellation of the first four weeks of the NBA season.
Where we stand now is here: the NBA is proposing the same deal over and over again and the players, who initially rejected this deal, are beginning to crack under the pressure of losing basketball. The rift remains how to divide up the BRI between players and owners. For the longest time the players have said they will not go lower than 52 percent.
The owners have said they will not agree to that and would still love to get the player percentage below 50 percent. It now looks like that will only happen if we lose some serious time or the owners somehow get some serious leverage.
But now the compromise seems to be a 51-49 split which not only brings the two sides closer together, but brings the players below the percentage they said was the line in the sand. This is all apparently news to the man who has been fighting for the players, Billy Hunter.
Hunter said last week that the players would not accept a penny under 52.2 percent. Now, as he is battling to get that, the owners are making back room deals with players to get that number lower and rendering Hunter not only irrelevant but they’re making him look stupid in the process.
Derek Fischer, player president, denies any such back room deals are being made. Hunter also stated in a letter to the NBAPA that, “Contrary to what is being said in the media, Derek, myself and the Negotiating Committee are of one accord. Derek is a fearless defender of player rights both at the bargaining table and behind the scenes, and he carries out his duties as President with the same degree of courage, focus and tenacity that he has exhibited on the court as a five-time champion. We are all well served to have Derek in a leadership capacity during these negotiations.”
But now that the allegations are out there, the owners are getting what they want: inner-turmoil among the players. They are separating the union into two sides, Hunter’s rouges and the rest of the players. This is potentially the leverage the owners need to get what they want out of the deal.
“Right now, everyone has to choose sides: Billy or Derek,” one player involved in the labor process told Yahoo! Sports. “How the [expletive] did it come to this?”
Well the answer is pretty simple: greed. Now we are seeing it on both sides of the table, not just the fat cat owners side. The players pretty little innocent faces are melting off from the intense heat of their burning dollars. This is not the outcome anyone wanted. This is the ugliest possible end to the lockout outside of a cancelled season.
How will anyone be able to get along after this? If the reports are true and there is group separation, how can the players not only play for the owners they hate so much right now, but their teammates who are now pitted against them in a pseudo-civil war?
This is not good and even if a deal gets done on Thursday, which is the next scheduled meeting between the two sides, the aftermath and aftershock of the latest developments will linger on well into the abbreviated NBA season.
Even in sports, greed and politics conquer all.