The 2011-12 NBA season was supposed to kick off on Tuesday night, but the lockout ended that possibility long ago. Just last week commissioner David Stern took it one step further by cancelling all games through the end of November after the players walked away from negotiations.
Now with the clock ticking before the league will have to wipe out more games -- Christmas Day seems like a likely target -- the union will meet on Thursday in New York to plan its next move, according to reports.
After spending the last few months being destroyed by Stern and the owners from a PR perspective, the union actually found a way to look even worse, starting with their abrupt ending of CBA negotiations. To declare that you are unwilling to budge off of 52% of basketball related income (BRI) when it has been clear from day one that the owners wouldn't make a deal at that number is like a child throwing a fit after getting in trouble for not cleaning their room even though it was explained very clearly what was expected by the parents.
Beyond killing any momentum -- not to mention good will with the owners -- the move to refuse actual negotiations also raised the frustration level of the players willing to take a 50-50 split of BRI. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher both sent out ridiculous "letters" this week to try and show the union is united as this battle drags on.
The problem is that anything sent out by Hunter or Fisher is more a press release than any actual vehicle to inform the players. When they both talk about solidarity, all it does is scream weakness.
Everyone is losing money right now, but eventually the billionaire owners will find a way to recoup those losses, be it with their team when games kick back in or through their business outside of basketball. The players will never get this money back. Once the possibility of an 82-game schedule went out the window, so did the players chance at getting all of their scheduled money for this season.
The only discussions the union has on Thursday should be how quickly they can get back to the bargaining table and make it look like it was their idea to settle on 50-50. If that means dressing up an already-agreed to concession or finding a new -- much smaller -- one the owners would be willing to include, it needs to happen soon or 50-50 won't even be on the table.
The clock is ticking on the 2011-12 season and for the first time since the lockout started, that means real money is going out the window for every NBA player.