“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”-Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight
Of course, he got blown up and became Harvey Two-Face shortly after that, but I really feel like I’m watching the Dark Knight right around the time the Joker blows up Rachel Dawes. We’ve said it before, but today’s was the darkest day of the NBA lockout. After over 24 hours of negotiating over two days, there was a feeling of optimism. Throughout the day, stories came out that significant progress had been made on smaller system issues like the Mid-Level Exception and even more optimism started to come through. Then the Joker blew up the warehouse.
Talks broke off and again it was over the revenue split. It hasn’t come out yet who played the role of the Joker (but federal mediator George Cohen DEFINITELY was Rachel Dawes getting blown up), but it things blew up in a hurry. At first it looked like they might just end like the last negotiating sessions did, the owners and players would say they couldn’t come to an agreement and keep everything relatively civil. Then Adam Silver and San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt said they hadn’t scheduled any more meetings and that they thought both sides needed some room to breath. Not great, but they could’ve said a lot worse.
Then Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter brought the fire.
“You guys were lied to,” Fisher said.
And here we go.
That was just the starter, once Fisher was done, Hunter said they were giving a take it or leave it offer.
“We’ve made concession after concession,” Hunter said. “… They knew when they presented what they were presenting to us that it wasn’t going to fly.”
Eventually names were thrown out and Hunter said the smaller market owners were keeping a deal from happening and that owners like Mark Cuban were ready to deal.
The truth of the matter is despite all the talk about this just being business, members of both sides have taken these negotiations personal for some time now. Today, Hunter and Fisher made the personal stuff public and I think that’s what scares me more than anything else. We also read that Spurs owner Peter Holt even told the players they haven’t felt enough pain. Who knows if that happened, nothing surprises me at this point.
Here’s one question I’ve been wrestling with all night: How much did the owners miss David Stern today? I understand Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver was in constant contact with Stern, but the second the guy was sent home with the flu, all Hell seemingly broke lose. According to union attorney Jeffery Kessler, Blazers owner Paul Allen showed up to speak for the NBA Board of Governors, telling the players a 50-50 split was the best they were going to get. It all seemed so startling. Love him or hate him, Stern kept to a message with the public. He rarely deviated and in public never seemed to lose his cool. Would things have gone so poorly with him in the room today?
Maybe, as J.A. Adande said, we should’ve seen it all coming. Maybe Billy Hunter is right, the owner wanted this all along. Maybe the players, already at 52.5 percent should’ve dropped one percent or 1.5 percent and see what the owners would’ve said then.
The night is darkest just before the dawn. I keep telling myself that, hoping that today was the Joker blowing up the warehouse and that there’s still a chance for an NBA season by Christmas.