There have been countless starts and stops during the NBA labor battle, but none carried the amount of acrimony of Thursday night's impasse. That's when after three days of mediation, the owners and players took the gloves off and engaged in a nasty battle of he said/he said.
Following the first two mediation sessions, both sides refused comment as they abided by the gag order from federal mediator George Cohen. With talks breaking off Thursday night and no more planned, there were more than enough people happy to pop off to the media.
With NBA commissioner David Stern at home with the flu, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and labor relations committee chair (and San Antonio Spurs owner) Peter Holt told reporters after the negotiations that the players walked away from the table.
NBAPA president Derek Fisher was blunt in his reaction to that accusation.
"You guys were lied to."
No matter how much venom Fisher or union executive director Billy Hunter want to throw at the owners, it's clear where the leverage in these negotiations is -- and it's not with the players. Stern has already cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season and will no doubt wipe out at least two more weeks before the end of the weekend.
MSNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell put the situation in terms neither side can argue with.
If NBA cancels next 2 weeks, players would have lost $400M. The difference in BRI is worth $800 million over 10 years!
That is money the players will never get back, and the owners know it.
So the two sides can accept a 50-50 split of basketball related income now or in four months after the entire 2011-12 season has been wiped out. Either way, the owners have already given all they are willing to give, headlined by the lack of a hard salary cap.
If the players don't come to their senses soon, we won't see basketball again until 2012-13.