The NBA and the NBPA both packed in their full negotiating committees for the latest labor meetings Saturday night.
Though the meeting did not go as late into the night, as many of the record setting 15-16 hour meetings have, this one ended with the league putting a firm stamp on negotiations in the form of an ultimatum.
With all of November's regular season games already cancelled, the league issued what Commissioner David Stern implied would be its final decent offer. The latest proposal by the NBA calls for a 50-50 BRI split (as opposed to a reported 52% desired by the players), as well as major system changes that limit team spending and makes it more difficult for taxpaying teams to benefit from free agency each offseason.
Should the NBPA not accept the deal by Wednesday, Stern claims that the league will rebuff by retracting it, instead offering the players only 47% of a potential BRI split, with an even tighter proposed system.
Despite the threat, NBPA Derek Fisher was defiant, asserting, "Right now, we've been given the ultimatum. And our answer is: that's not acceptable to us."
The players are holding steady, with some firmly believing that losing money early on (i.e. delaying/canceling the impending season) will ultimately be worth it, benefitting from a better system and more money in the long run.
The Players' Union was joined yesterday by New York Knicks' point guard Chauncey Billups, a five-time all-star and NBA Finals MVP, who has publicly said he would be willing to sacrifice his lucrative $14 million plus salary if it meant the players will benefit in the long-term in the way of a fair CBA.
On the flip side, the league and its owner were joined by Bobcats owner and arguably the best player of all-time, Michael Jordan. Despite making as much as $30 million as an annual salary during his playing days, Jordan has reportedly been holding firm as one of the most passionate hardliners on the owners' side.
Jordan has been criticized for not looking out for the best interest of the players, given his past success in a more lenient and lucrative system, but how can anyone blame him now?
As owner of the NBA's most recent franchise (in one of the smaller markets), Jordan has a different responsibility now. His playing days are over and he has to act in the best interests of how he will effectively run his business/franchise. Whether you as a fan side with the players or the owners, it does not make a difference; it's easy to understand Jordan's position and why he doesn't "side" with the players.
Simple: he's no longer a player. Furthermore, in regard to Jordan's position on system issues, it makes sense for him to be tighter, not wanting to keep giving bigger markets a competitive advantage.
It's the same reason why the big market owners are eager to cut a deal. They have the money and would be lenient going about spending it if it meant they in fact have a competitive advantage. Each owner is keeping in mind what will ultimately bring them the most success. Jordan is no different.
In any event, it seems as though Fisher and the NBPA are not budging and will not give in to the ultimatum set by Stern and the league. Then again, it's only Sunday. Time will tell, but the two sides appear at a standstill.
More on this as it develops.