After a nonproductive day on the collective bargaining table with the players’ association NBA commissioner David Stern and his deputy Adam Silver said on Tuesday that the 2011-12 NBA preseason has been wiped out, and if no new deal is in place by Oct. 10 then Stern has no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the regular season.
If you are judging from home and looking at this whole ordeal from the outside, it appears that Stern and the owners are winning this battle. The league is basically waiting for the players to crack, and it will be just a matter of time before that happens. Poor Derek Fisher, the embattled union president who has had the unenviable task of trying to keep his troops intact while satisfying those power-hungry agents. It’s like asking a bunch of 5-year-olds to not run around during recess. It’s an impossible task.
Just like 1998 when the season was cut down to 50 games, the players stood their ground until the majority of the players peeled off from the union and buckled under the pressure of losing their livelihood. Stern doesn’t seem concerned at all about losing regular season games in 2011 – and possibly the entire 2011-12 season for that matter – because that was the plan all along by the owners when the current deal expired on July 1.
“I don’t think they’re gonna play this year,” TNT commentator and Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley said on NBATV. “I think the owners have said ‘You know what, we’re gonna be like hockey. We’re gonna have to burn down the house and start over, come in with a cap and make this thing competitive for all the teams.’ That’s what the owners have said from the beginning. They’re not gonna budge this time. They’re not gonna play at all this year.”
Barkley noted that one of the biggest mistakes the players are making is that they are banking on a repeat of 1998, but the difference this time around is the fact that the owners are more willing to sacrifice the entire season to save their own bank accounts.
“I think the players are getting screwed by 1998. In the back of the players’ mind they are [thinking] ‘Oh, we’ll start the season in January.’ I don’t think you can compare ’98 to 2011,” Barkley said. “We’ve been in a recession for the last two or three years, some of these teams are really hurting, players’ salaries have continued to go up and they’re gonna continue to go up.
“The owners are saying ‘We’ll lose less money by not playing at all.’ I think that’s been their strategy from the beginning.”
As for the option of playing overseas, Barkley says this strategy only benefits the superstars. “This probably hurt the players,” Barkley said. “This thing is about stars, and the stars have been somewhat selfish talking about going overseas. The majority of the players are not gonna be able to go overseas.”
Barkley believes this current standoff could have been avoided had guys like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant gotten more involved in the early stages of the lockout. Instead, after being absent for much of the summer, the stars came out in droves and crashed the collective bargaining meetings in New York, which made it harder to get a deal done. Wade and Stern reportedly got into a verbal joust in one of the weekend sessions, adding more tension to an already stressful situation.
“Those stars just started showing up [to the meetings] for the last week. They should have been in there [from the beginning],” Barkley said. “The stars have more to lose than anybody. They just showed up last week, and it’s too late. They should have been in there like a month ago.”
Barkley added, “The people who work for these teams and work in these arenas they’re the big losers.”