NBA PM: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
As most of you know, Tuesday was supposed to be “Doomsday” for the NBA’s bothersome labor dispute. Both the players and the commissioner David Stern have stressed that major strides had to be made over this past weekend for there to be any hopes of having a season. Naturally, the weekend has bled over into the week, so much of the NBA media that lives in the New York City area found itself staking out the meeting room in hopes that a resolution would be announced.
Things got going sometime after noon (some sense of urgency, huh?), and the doors remained closed until around 4 P.M. when Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire emerged.
“Both sides are confident about getting something done,” Stoudemire told the media, including Ken Berger of CBSsports.com. “We’re just trying to make sure we work it out.”
As for the regular season starting on time, Stoudemire was less optimistic.
“We’re not sure if the season’s going to start on time or not,” he said, as quoted by Howard Beck of The New York Times.
There’s been nothing but silence from the negotiating room since Stoudemire’s appearance (he was rushing to catch a flight, reportedly), but that has to be good news. The longer the two sides talk with each other, instead of about each other, the better.
UPDATE (5:38 PM EST): The meeting ended abruptly at around 5:30 PM, according to multiple reports. The Players Union will make a statement and then NBA representatives will speak.
UPDATE (5:45 PM EST): Newsday’s Alan Hahn tweeted, “Not getting good feedback from sources…but let’s see what is said first….”
UPDATE (5:53 PM EST): ESPN’s Chris Broussard tweeted, “Someone in NBA meetings just told me they made a little progress today but still have a long way to go before a deal.”
UPDATE (5:55 PM EST): Union president Derek Fisher takes the podium with stars such as Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce to address the media.
What’s Up With D-Will?
As noted by NetsDaily’s Net Income, Nets point guard Deron Williams played one of his worst games as a professional on Tuesday as his Besiktas squad fell to Belgium’s Dexia Mons, 74-63. That means Besiktas, for all the money they spent on Williams, is now out of the EuroCup.
A clearly out-of-shape Williams scored only seven points on 3-of-13 shooting. He did have seven assists, but also committed six turnovers. However, Besiktas did get some good news as 25,000 people reportedly watched the game online.
Afterward, Williams confessed to his Twitter followers that he had not played well:
“Just had a horrible game n a very important game. Euro Challenge is not where we wanted to be! But not much we can do about it but win it.”
The EuroChallenge is the third tier of the transnational men’s pro basketball competition in Europe. EuroCup is the second tier and Euroleague is the highest level.
We Now Turn to Metta WorldPeace with Breaking News
So Ron Ar, sorry, Metta WorldPeace took to his Twitter account to announce that the lockout was over Tuesday afternoon. First came, “Yay No lock out,” which was soon followed by “Go to ronartest.com for breaking lock out news!!!” Only there wasn’t anything new up on Ronartest.com.
The only thing that showed up on the site’s home page was another Tweet from WorldPeace that read, “I have to pick up my practice jersey!! I’ll inform yal more on ronartest.com.”
Thankfully, HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy was able to provide some perspective with a tweet of his own:
Sources in the room just texted back regarding Ron Artest’s tweet: “He doesn’t have much credibility. Consider the source.”
Then, just when his Twitter account seemed to cool down, WorldPeace dropped another tweet on the subject:
I had alot of people fooled. Just like media. See yal should listen to ur parents. Not media. Believe in yourself. Not others LOl
In spite of his objections to the media, WorldPeace later wrote that he saw a report on CNN that said the lockout might be over—and he did this without a hint of irony.
Basketball Players, Lawyers Look for Home-Court Advantage
The day began with a disturbing Tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick:
Another ominous sign: source says both sides meeting w/2nd circuit judge today in regards 2 league’s lawsuit & NBPA’s motion to dismiss.
If you’ll remember back to the beginning of August, the NBA took preemptive action against the NBPA by filing two lawsuits. One was an unfair labor practice charge that was filed with the National Labor Relations Board and the other was a federal lawsuit that was filed in New York district court. The league was complaining that the players union had made over 24 threats to dissolve the union, which would have allowed them to sue the NBA under antitrust laws in hopes of landing better terms in the next CBA—a strategy the NFL Players Union attempted to use that ultimately proved unnecessary.
At the time, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said any attempt to dissolve the union showed that the players weren’t fully committed to the collective bargaining process.
The fact that both parties were getting their legal ducks in a row on Tuesday morning showed just how serious things had gotten. Both the players and the owners expected to have to settle this the American way (i.e. more lawyers).
Andrei Kirilenko Returns to CSKA Moscow
Another bad sign for labor peace came in the form of a free agent signing. Free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko signed a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, but the contract did have an “out” clause should the lockout come to an end. Kirilenko played with CSKA—which was supported financially by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov—before arriving in the NBA in 2001.
Interestingly enough, CSKA coach Jonas Kazlauskas was torn over whether to bring Kirilenko back on such a tentative basis.
“My opinion, you should not take the NBA player during the lockout,” Kazlauskas said in a team statement that was reprinted by FIBA.com. “If they can leave you, you don’t know what to expect… And only the weak teams can tike this kind of step.
“At the same time, every rule has its exception, and Kirilenko is the exception,” he continued. “Andrei is the star of Russian and world basketball, he means for his country as much as [Arvydas] Sabonis for Lithuania, Pau Gasol for Spain, [Dirk] Nowitzki for Germany.”
CSKA president Andrei Vatutin echoed that sentiment.
“I am sure that most of the fans as well as me are anxious to see Kirilenko in CSKA uniform,” he said. “If the lockout finishes, and Andrei decides not to chase NBA contract, our perspective becomes even better.”
The good news is that all of Kirilenko’s earnings will go toward his charity, The Kirilenko Kids Foundation.
“The foundation will help the children hospitals and charity-schools, sport schools, sport veterans and the basketball players who became the disabled persons,” Kirilenko said in the statement.
Juwan Howard Jr. Returns to Motown
It’s maybe not the biggest news of the day, but the son of Michigan great Juwan Howard is transferring from Western Michigan to the University of Detroit (AKA: Detroit Mercy), according to a report by the Associated Press.
Howard started only two games as a freshman for the Broncos last season, but still managed to rank third on the team with a 9.3 PPG average. In addition to hitting 78.8% of his free throws, Howard also finished third on the team with 52 assists. However, the 6-6 Detroit native hit only 38.7% of his field goals last season.
Howard won’t be eligible to play until the 2012-2013 season.
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