The NBA: where “nuclear winters” happen.Those aren’t the exact words of NBA commissioner David Stern. But they’re pretty close.
Stern went on the offensive within an hour after hearing of the players’ decision to disband as a union and begin the process of filing an anti-trust lawsuit against ownership.
“Billy Hunter has decided to put this season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday,” Stern told ESPN.
He called the players’ latest actions nothing more than a “negotiating tactic.” And Stern didn’t stop there. He considered the player’s filing of a disclaimer of interest a “charade” and an “act of magic” if they truly believe it would threaten the owner’s resolve.
As for the player’s resolve, Stern believed their decision was simply “bad advice.” Stern’s animosity for the player’s legal counsel – led by Jeffrey Kessler – and Billy Hunter was evident.
“It looks like the 2011-12 NBA season is really in jeopardy,” Stern said. “If I were a player in the NBA – one of the 450 – I would be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter just did.”
Stern’s spin on things is remarkable. He is a wonderful tactician. His portrayal of the players as irresponsible and owners at having made every effort “to bargain in good faith” was nothing short of masterful.
But that doesn’t make him right.
Fans won’t, or shouldn’t, ignore the fact that players have conceded seven percentage points on BRI. Or that Stern effectively ended the prospect of further bargaining by announcing that negotiations were over.
“They seem hell-bent on self-destruction,” Stern said of the players. “The fans can think we were very close and the players decided to blow it up.”
Prospects of an NBA season may have very well destructed. But Stern is to blame as much as the players in every way.
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