NEW YORK — At a certain point, this game of telephone chicken has to end. I made that point yesterday on NBCSportsTalk in the video posted above, and I’ll make it again on Day 141 of the NBA lockout (or “boycott” if we use David Boies’ preferred term.)
NBA commissioner David Stern spoke on the phone yesterday with the league’s Board of Governors, and Stern can wake up this morning patting himself on the back over the fact that no details of what transpired on that call have leaked yet. (Except that it lasted 20 minutes, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com).
Now, it is time for a suggestion to Easy Dave (that was the nickname Stern gave himself when he was feeling chipper one day during the 1998-99 lockout): Show a little humility, pick up the phone again, call Jeffrey Kessler and/or David Boies (or have an intermediary do it), and set up a meeting to settle the lockout and the lawsuits. And this time, keep it a secret to keep external forces from intervening.
It has to be done at some time, so why not today?
“They’ve got my number,” Boies said earlier this week.
As someone close to this whole process told me yesterday: Sometimes things have to get darkest before brightness arrives again. And with Billy Hunter saying that players might start their on league and play at St. John’s instead of Madison Square Garden, it’s looking pretty dark.
A few items from around the Web:
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: A procedural but interesting wrinkle in the players’ antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota emergered Thursday. In addition to filing the complaint in district court, the plaintiffs’ attorneys served papers via first-class mail on all 30 NBA general managers, according to court documents in the case. The certificate of service was amended in the court records Thursday to add the Miami Heat. When the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, the Heat were left off the list of team general managers served with the complaint. For unknown reasons, the attorneys served the papers on Heat executive and salary cap expert Andy Elisburg, rather than team president and Hall of Famer Pat Riley. Also, the Knicks’ copy of the lawsuit may get lost in the mail. It was sent to Donnie Walsh, who is no longer the Knicks’ team president. Sending the complaint to team general managers does not mean they’re liable in the lawsuit. It’s simply a procedural step, and also one of many ways that attorneys can and do annoy defendants in civil lawsuits.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant told Yahoo! Sports last Saturday he would seriously consider making the move overseas if the lockout wasn’t settled soon. He has drawn interest from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Besiktas, Istanbul’s Anadolu Efes, Spain’s Valencia Basket and Germany’s BBC Bayreuth. “It’s going to be open for guys whether they want to go long term or for a month,” said Durant’s agent Aaron Goodwin. “I believe there will be some opportunity.” Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry told Yahoo! Sports he is now open to playing overseas after Monday’s action by the players’ former union. “I just opened the doors and I don’t really have any clue as to a team or country,” said Curry, who has experience playing against international competition with USA Basketball. “Technically, this is Day 1 for me. I know it’s not an easy transition, but if the situation is right I can’t resist the feeling of playing and competing again.”
Tom Ziller of SBNation: “Now, in the vacuum of the NBA’s own creation, there exists the opportunity for the players to take ultimate power by waiting these lawsuits out. By holding the owners themselves hostage. By forcing Jerry Buss to watch the value of his prized possession, the Lakers, eat itself away slowly. By forcing David Stern to see his legacy lose its luster, inch by inch. By forcing Peter Holt to watch Tim Duncan’s wrinkles form, by forcing to watch Wyc Grousbeck see his championship core turn gray, by forcing Donald Sterling to think about his golden idol risk his health in pick-up games in empty gyms. In 1999, because of the lack of sophistication most players had about wealth and how to handle it, time was on the owners’ side. Things are different now. Robert Sarver and the Maloofs and Joe Lacob have a helluva lot of skin in this game to watch their investments get chewed up by Father Time. They all need and deeply desire a new system. But what good is a new system without a league to employ it in? Make no mistake: with this week’s moves by the players, the scales have evened. The players are no longer content to negotiate from the corner David Stern put them in. They looked Stern and MJ and Paul Allen and Dan Gilbert right in their gold-specked eyes and they waved a middle finger and they said, “No mas.” That’s what David Stern has to deal with now, if this ever gets back to the negotiating table: a collection of players that have had enough. And if it doesn’t get back to the table, and the players continue to hold strong — certainly not a given, but much more plausible because of the new money standards — then the owners’ fates will be decided by judges. Billionaires aren’t used to being told what to do, so it’ll be a nice new perspective on what the players have been through the last five months, should the courts go the athletes’ way. Let’s see if the owners have the stomach to accept their own medicine.