Tuesday's labor meetings stand to be of the utmost importance for the NBA and the NBPA, as if an agreement for a new CBA cannot be reached, the beginning of the regular season is likely to be delayed/cancelled.
The two sides went at it both Friday and Saturday, meeting for nearly a total of 15 hours in hopes of finding a happy medium. Unfortunately, they were unable to come to terms, but it wasn't before the NBPA ushered in some of its big guns for support. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade were among those who joined NBPA President Derek Fisher over the weekend, with the goal of not only providing some "muscle," but also making sure the NBA's wide range of talent is being efficiently represented during negotiations.
Seeing as how the meetings are being held in New York City, it's phenomenal to see a player of Anthony's caliber, popularity, and status involved. It's clearly beneficial for him to be representing, so to speak, as the Big Apple is one of the NBA's most popular markets. His dedication and commitment can only assist in the effort to begin the season ASAP, preferably on time. His presence has certainly not gone unnoticed, undoubtedly appreciated by both the union, as well as the fans.
Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commish Adam Silver have referred to Tuesday's meeting as a "make it or break it" type of meeting. Nevertheless, has the NBPA already pulled out all of its stops as they try to make an impact with player presence? As noted, there was tremendous player participation over the weekend, and in fact, Paul Pierce has been Fisher's right hand man all the way through Monday's smaller meeting.
On Tuesday, Fisher and the union will reportedly see support from his Lakers teammate and former MVP Kobe Bryant, as well as Knicks' superstar Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire essentially became New York City's favorite son as he helped revive the Knicks with a return to the postseason, ending a seven year drought. With his ever-growing success on and off the court, there's doubt that STAT is becoming one of the league's most marketable stars. His presence, opinion, and support of the union is surely to make an impact on the most important day of negotiations yet.
Bryant's presence is also key, but for a much different reason. While his star power may even be bigger than Stoudemire's, Bryant also stands as the NBA's most talented athlete to seriously flirt with the idea of playing overseas in the event of a prolonged lockout.
In fact, he's been doing more than just flirting. Bryant has been in negotiations with Virtus Bolonga, an Italian basketball team, for a lucrative deal. Having grown up in Italy while his father was playing professionally, Bryant already loves the country and would surely be eager to go there, should the lockout still be in effect. Furthermore, there would be no culture shock for Bryant, ala Earl Clark in China. The thought of one of the league's best players of all time seeking employment outside the country will certainly shake things up tomorrow.
The presence of Bryant and STAT can only work in the NBPA's favor. That being said, the limited amount of success between the two sides over the last three meetings cannot leave anyone overly optimistic heading into Tuesday.
More on this after the meetings.