Should There Be Optimism Surrounding NBA Labor Talks?

After a five-hour bargaining session between the NBA and its player’s union, NBPA President Derek Fisher emerged Friday to call the meeting an “engaging” one, and said that the two sides discussed “a lot of different ideas, concepts, system issues, and economics.”
Addressing the media following the meeting, Fisher was surrounded by a wide variety of talent. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, Elton Brand, Baron Davis, Matt Bonner, and Arron Afflalo were among those who stood by Fisher, all standing somewhat solemnly. The Knicks’ own Carmelo Anthony and Roger Mason Jr. were also in attendance.
Certain players had already departed despite attending the meeting earlier; those players included Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Udonis Haslem, Eric Gordon, Caron Butler, and Theo Ratliff.
What was the end result? No deal had been reached, but the two sides agreed to meet once again today as well.
Fisher seemed less concerned with any real pressing need to agree upon a deal by the end of this weekend. Commissioner David Stern also dismissed reports that he would cancel the season should no deal be reached in the coming days.
Instead, Fisher praised player participation, saying that although the number of players present yesterday said a lot for pictures sake, the union has felt their support throughout the process.
The NBPA President also went on to say that he felt as though the players could be more efficiently represented by the wider range of talent present.
“Everyone was in the room,” said Fisher. The meeting gave the players “an opportunity to hear Commissioner Stern, Adam Silver, and some of our team owners in terms of their positions. That will continue to provide the framework going forward.”
Fisher seemed to concentrate more on the fact that the two sides had heard each other out, saying that they will continue to work together in order to “bridge this gap.”
Following a five-hour meeting, there had to be progress though, correct? If there wasn’t any progress being made at all, perhaps parties from the two sides would have left the negotiating table early, feeling as though enough was enough.
Fisher did go on to say “there were times [in the meeting] where it was contentious. Guys are very passionate about their opinions. We had some of those moments today. There were also times where we were able to really talk, and show the type of respect that you show in a business negotiation. When you have as much at stake as we do, you have to expect some ups and downs in these meetings. That’s what they’ve always included.”
Through the ups and downs, was there any legitimate progress? Are the two sides any closer to reaching a deal?
Fisher noted, “As our guys did today, when you have the opportunity to be in the room and you see how massive the different aspects to putting this deal together really are, until it’s finalized and there’s an agreement, you won’t ever feel close to being done.”
He wouldn’t address any specifics, and therefore Fisher appeared to be quite the diplomat. His body language and tone didn’t necessarily reflect progress or any higher level of optimism, but he instead seemed to be in a patient state of mind, content with the fact that both sides were able to be heard and that the players as a larger group were able to “express themselves.”
With that said, sources say the atmosphere grew tense in the negotiating room yesterday.
Players got up at different points, ready to exit, feeling as though no progress was being made. Players Union Chief Billy Hunter reportedly had to have a private conversation with Commissioner Stern, then rallying some of the players to stay and/or come back inside.
Furthermore, at one point, Dwyane Wade stood up after Stern apparently pointed his finger at him in an effort to make a point, exclaiming something to the effect of “I’m not a child.”
With tension rising and tempers potentially flaring, I’m not fully prepared to say I believe significant progress was made yesterday However, the meeting did last five hours, and the two sides are currently meeting as we speak, so perhaps there must be potential for success today.
Fisher did insist that he did not feel as though yesterday’s meeting was a waste of time for the players.
At the very least, yesterday’s meeting prompted both sides to continue meeting. That has to be good for something, in my opinion. I’m more interested in, however, the reactions from both sides after today. That should certainly be more telling into the direction negotiations have and/or will be going.
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