Bonner: ‘We want to play basketball’

San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner is at the forefront of the CBA negotiations as he serves as the vice president of the NBPA Executive Committee and as such, he is a wealth of knowledge in this situation.

But representing the players in an otherwise delicate issue carries a large burden for Bonner.

“As a player rep you’re basically responsible for reporting to your team and being able to get the general opinion of your team on certain issues and then report to the executive committee,” Bonner said. “Once you’re on the executive committee, you’re part of the front line of all the processes. You go to the actual negotiation sessions, you can vote on by-laws within the union, it’s just a much more involved role.”

And in such negotiations, one can imagine the pressure, the complexities, the back-and-forth, that comes with hammering out a deal beneficial for both sides. But regardless, Bonner relishes the experience.

“You get to these negotiation sessions and you’re there all day and you leave exhausted and with a giant headache. It’s mentally exhausting. The CBA is so complicated and has so many different facets and intricacies. But it’s just a great experience being part of something that not only affects yourself and every player in the league, but also every player in the league for years to come.”

Aside from the experience, what about the issue or more importantly, the money? According to Bonner, the players are trying to work with the owners but admits the owners want too much.

“If you punch in the projected growth numbers of the NBA, that eight percent goes to something like 12 percent in year two, 15 in year three, 17 in year four and so on, and by the end of the deal we’d only be getting 30 percent of the BRI,” Bonner said. “We acknowledge the teams are losing money. We want to help them reach profitability as a league and we’re willing to share that burden, but they want us to take all of it. And we want to share in some of the growth the NBA is going to experience as it moves forward.”

Numerous reports state the players and owners are oceans apart which seems to be verified by Bonner. However, will the players go as far as sitting out the entire season? Bonner says players are willing to go to that extreme.

“Guys are prepared to miss the season, but that’s not what we want by a longshot. At the same time, we’re not going to take an unfair deal that’s going to hurt all the players that come after us,” Bonner said. “Back in ’98 (the last NBA lockout), they took a stand for us and missed half a season and that enabled us to enjoy the CBA we have now. It’s always important to think it’s not just about us, but also about the players that come after us and to make sure it’s fair. We understand it’s a recession and we understand we make a lot of money. We just want to make it fair.”

So what does Bonner have to say on whether or not there will be a new season?

“I have no idea. I really hope so. I really hope that the owners have some reason and are willing to compromise and work and get a fair deal for everybody,” Bonner said. “We want to play basketball. That’s what we love to do and we want the fans to be able to enjoy the game and watch us do our thing.”

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