They're done being nice.
So... Okay! Good to know the mediation was a complete waste of time. But of course it was. Each time we've had some shred of hope that there's progress being made, that hope's been doused in gasoline, set on fire, packed into a t-shirt cannon, and rocketed into outer space. All in front of an army of NBA reporters who are slowly going insane.
There are certain generations, in whatever form or field you want to discuss, that are going to be bent over a barrel no matter how much they contribute, and how much they scream about the injustice (and it is, and will be an injustice) until they're blue in the face. Jason Kapono(notes) told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that "players have been more than fair with their concessions." Of course they have. That's not the point. This was never going to be about a "OK, your turn" step down from 57 percent. This was always going to be a beating. This was always going to be, "please, just don't hit my face."
More after the break.
Hunter named names, saying that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert told Hunter "to trust his gut," on a system that had not been negotiated. He said that Blazers owner Paul Allen walked into the negotiation and reinforced the message that it was a 50-50 split or bust. Hunter added that owners like Jim Dolan (New York), Mickey Arison (Miami), Mark Cuban (Dallas) and Jerry Buss (Los Angeles) wanted to make a deal but other small-market owners did not. The NBA loves to make the comparison to the NFL, but while the NFL had owners like Bob Kraft who cut through the rhetoric and helped pull a deal together, the NBA has Comic Sans Dan asking the union to trust him like they were just another sucker at one of his soon to be unveiled casinos.
Blame whoever you'd like. If you think that NBA players, coming off a season in which league revenue grew almost 5 percent despite the awful economy and a static, undersized national TV contract, are wrong to reject an offer than includes both a 12-percent paycut and massive changes to the salary cap system that will limit mid-rung players' ability to sign multi-year contracts, so be it. I am not going to convince you that the owners are railroading the very men who allow them to earn $4 billion in revenue. But I am going to argue that the owners who set this round of talks aflame are being duplicitous, selfish bullies.
This is a circus now, the big tent setting up at posh locations all over the island of Manhattan with men in clown suits parading in and out at all hours of the day and night. Wasting our time, we come to find out. Except that the difference with this circus is that no one wants to see it anymore. Soon, the owners and players will be negotiating in a forest with no one around to hear them except each other. And after what happened Thursday, oh, do they deserve that. They deserve each other.