NBA owners and players have had since July to negotiate a new labor deal to end the NBA lockout. Really, the two sides began negotiations two years ago, at least according to Billy Hunter. Yet Kevin Garnett went to five hours worth of meetings and reportedly [expletived] everything up.
This fight has grown nastier, more personal, in the past weeks. Privately, management insists that everything changed when the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett walked into the negotiating room on Oct. 4. The owners knew it wouldn’t go well when Garnett started glowering across the table, sources said, like the league lawyers, owners and officials were opponents at the center jump. He was defiant, determined and downright ornery. He was K.G. Everyone knew Hunter had to cede to the wishes of the stars, and the stars demanded that the players stop making concessions to the owners.
As one league official said, “We were making progress, until Garnett [expletive] everything up.”
In other words, as one league official said, “Billy Hunter was ready to completely cave into Stern’s demands, ready to hand Stern the keys to his house and Ferrari, 50% of BRI, his first-born child and his limited edition Boy Meets World DVD set, until Garnett started glowering across the table and assured the players would not accept a bum deal.”
Seriously, though. If Kevin Garnett being Kevin Garnett at one single meeting can cause progress to come to a swift end, maybe there wasn’t so much progress after all. It sounds like a lot of owners are conveniently blaming Garnett to hide the fact that they’re trying to give the players a swirly after taking their lunch money. This lockout will continue until one of two things happens:
1) the players, missing their paychecks, decide to crumble
2) the owners, knowing they’re huge assholes, decide to put the subs in the game and settle for a 20-point win instead of a 40-point blowout
In case you were wondering, the two sides were scheduled to meet for a mediating session with George Cohen today at 10 a.m. But not everyone’s convinced the session will help.
But can a mediator swoop in and smooth out two years of bickering in one day?
Attorney Jay Krupin, chair of EpsteinBeckerGreen’s national labor practice in Washington, doesn’t think so — unless the players are prepared to concede on some issues.
“If the players want to get back on the court, then this is a great time for them to try to show that they’re willing to make some type of compromise, and I think that’s what it is,” he said. “This is an opportunity to really determine whether or not the players are willing to make concessions. I think the owners are willing to walk away without concessions, so if the players really want to make concessions when they meet, that has to be expressed to the mediator.
“If that happens, then the burden turns to the NBA to say, ‘All right, you’ll be willing to make some concessions; now we’re willing to talk.’ If they’re not willing to make concessions, then the mediation would just go on for the day and it’ll let the NBA know that they probably have to cancel, go through Christmas and maybe even the rest of the season.”
Here’s how I expect the mediating session to go: