David Stern and the NBA league office made a very bold but shrewd move by releasing the 2011-12 schedule. By revealing the matchups for the upcoming season – including the very juicy Christmas Day tripleheader that includes the Mavericks vs. Heat, the Lakers vs. the Bulls, and the Celtics vs. the Knicks – it teases fans of what is to come and puts the onus on the players to agree to a new collective bargaining.
Even though the owners are the ones who locked the players out, the unveiling of the 2011-12 schedules gives the perception that the owners are planning on having a season and the players need to get on board or risk being blamed for mucking things up.
Stern and the NBA owners know the players are more to lose. Owners have other source of income, and are not likely to go bankrupt if one or two months of the season are lost. The majority of players, on the other hand, may have already exhausted their life savings by the end of summer.
The players say they are very much united and are prepared to sit out the season if needed. Some have inquired about playing overseas, and Nets point guard Deron Williams took it a step farther by actually having a deal in place to play in Turkey. And we’ll see how serious Williams is about playing in Europe once he hears all the Turkish horror stories from Allen Iverson.
But no matter how deep the players stick their foot on the ground, the bottom line is the league is run by the owners, not the players. We all know how this story is going end. The owners won’t budge from their position, the players will get antsy, and both sides will find a happy medium and end up striking a last-minute deal.