Communication Biggest Issue in Talks?
This is not a whimsical, wouldn’t-it-be-nice suggestion I am making here. No, this is an entirely serious and necessary response to a crisis of the NBA’s own making. A season of basketball is on the verge of cancellation because the owners and players are failing to communicate with each other. Most of the owners and most of the players want no part of this destruction. They have to be wondering how in the name of Bill Russell did it ever get to this point.
The problem has been secrecy, which has been forming in layer upon suffocating layer.
The secrecy began with (David) Stern’s edict that no owner or management employee speak one word publicly of the negotiations. That order was meant to encourage ownership to speak with a single voice through Stern. But the goal of unity has backfired. The gag order has encouraged some owners to engage in selfish negotiations, so that the richest of them pursue their needs and the less-rich — the so-called small-market owners — hold out for the needs of their own. They have been invited to indulge themselves at the expense of the NBA because they are not being held accountable for their self-indulgences. Secrecy has brought out the worst in them.
The union — excuse me, the trade association — has engaged in its own corrupting secrecy and disorganization. Most players didn’t have access to the NBA’s “final” proposal until a leaked copy was published in full by USA Today the night before the crucial meeting of player representatives Monday.