With the first holiday weekend of the lockout behind us, we've got some statements and stories to digest. Kevin Durant and Antawn Jamison made comments that probably reveal more about themselves than the negotiations, and Ian O'Connor wrote a piece for ESPN New York which clearly took the players' side. Let's discuss.
If you read the Durant and Jamison stories, good for you. If you didn't, let me break them down for you. The company line from the union is that the players like the things the way they are, but they were still willing to give some money back to the owners. They're prepared to give up games (and paychecks) to maintain the status quo. The key part from the Durant story is that he's apparently been too busy to uphold his duties as the Thunder representative, but Nick Collison as been filling in for him. The funny thing from the Jamison story was Jamison throwing a stone at outrageous contracts the owners have given to players from his $15M/year glass house.
The O'Connor story takes an interesting look at the negotiations. Essentially, O'Connor is putting the weight of this lockout on David Stern and his legacy as commissioner of the league. Stern has already suffered through a lockout that cost the league a number of games in 1998 and if he was to lose more games this season, or perhaps the entire season, well, that might not be something his legacy could overcome. O'Connor then pulled out the cliches you hear about how no one pays to see an owner own a team, and well, you get the picture.
In all honesty, I haven't chosen a side in this ordeal. I don't think you really need to. The players don't have any leverage, so whether you empathize with their situation or you think they deserve 57% of revenues doesn't really matter. The way the system is currently set up, a number of teams don't make money. Many of the owners won't lose a thing if the games aren't played next season. They've got all the time in the world. I'm sure no one relishes the idea of losing a season, but one group can afford it, the other probably cannot. If the season is going to begin on time, the players need to come to terms with their situation and the next time the owners make an offer, they can't just walk away from the table without so much as a counter-proposal. I don't think it'll come to this, but the owners probably could simply put their first proposal back on the table and say, "call us when you're ready to sign that." Eventually, the union would have to cave.