David Stern and Billy Hunter are taking their fight to the media a month into the lockout. Thus far, Stern has the upper hand.
When the NBA Players Association, David Stern and key owners met earlier this week, the expectation was little would be accomplished. There's so much time left on the clock at this point that neither side is feeling a great deal of pressure. This point of a work stoppage is typically the time for each side to puff out their chest, draw a line in the stand, leak tidbits of information and generally do nothing to solve the myriad issues that caused the work stoppage in the first place. Billy Hunter and David Stern haven't failed to live up to expectations.
So far this week the NBA has filed a pair of lawsuits designed to take one of the union's trump cards (decertification) off the table before they even get a chance to play it. Stern compared the NBA's situation to the recently resolved NFL lockout and through their lawsuit, the NBA has accused the union of failing to negotiate in good faith. The league's contention is the union has repeatedly threatened to decertify in order to sue the league for antitrust violations.
Stern's most recent salvo landed Wednesday morning when "sources learned" Stern wouldn't receive a paycheck as long as the lockout endured. Various reports put Stern's salary between $15M and $23M per year. (Our very own sub-par center had something to say about Stern's compensation on Twitter).
Not to be outdone, Billy Hunter spoke to the press later in the day Thursday and basically said the entire season is likely to be lost because Stern can't control a group of the newer owners. This isn't the first I've heard about how new owners are intent on realize a return on their significant investments. Times seem to have changed among the owners, and the group of entrenched owners who Stern held sway has definitely shrunk over the years, but according to several reports 22 of the 29 owners in the league (the NBA owns the Hornets) are losing money. Some of them are hemorrhaging money. I don't think it's taking much cajoling from anyone to get the owners on the same page.
The current CBA doesn't allow teams to make money. That fact isn't in question. As a whole, the league lost money despite increasing revenues. The union is doing everything in its power to try to deflect attention away from that fact, but until they're willing to seriously address the economics of the situation, these talks aren't going to progress. Personally, I think it's irresponsible for anyone involved in the negotiations to say it's "likely" the entire season will be lost when they've met a grand total of one time for negotiations in the past month. If that's truly the case, Hunter should be demanding more negotiating sessions.
If you're keeping score at home, you've got the head of the union essentially throwing his hands up in the air and saying "I give up." While the league has filed a lawsuit calling the union a bunch of crybabies who aren't willing to negotiate and David Stern apparently has 15-23 million reasons to get this deal done as soon as possible. The league would be winning the battle of public opinion to this point, if the public was actually paying attention.