When they convened, instead of the union’s head, Hunter, or their negotiating committee of Maurice Evans, Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Chris Paul, representing the players were Fisher, Kessler, and three superstars who had been to very few of the meetings at all: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.
A bad sign: Pierce was still wearing his backpack. The players had two pieces of news that shocked the league: 50/50 was not good enough. And there was nothing further to discuss.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Are they up for it?
Are Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce up for being scapegoats if players and owners don’t solve the lockout and eventually cancel the season.
After all, there’s plenty to suggest a deal was within reach last week at or near the 50-50 split of Basketball Related Income.
Then Bryant, Garnett, and Pierce walked into Commissioner Stern’s office and said no way. The even split of BRI was off. The players wanted 53%. Or no deal.
The players and owners who thought a new collective bargaining agreement was within reach and were prepared to negotiate around the clock to preserve the 82 game season were dumbfounded.
Here’s why I think they were shocked:
1) How can three guys who have earned hundreds of millions of dollars and can live off endorsements tell (yes, tell) a fringe player to stand united with their cause?
At some point, their interests diverge. At some point, there will be a split in the union.
2) Bryant, Garnett, and Pierce are intelligent, confident guys. They will be informed and up-to-date on facts and information, however, Pierce was the only one actively involved in negotiations.
Bryant and Garnett did not attend the majority of negotiations, and had no business hijacking these high stakes meetings or claiming to represent the union.
Billy Hunter should have been there. Heck, somebody with an MBA or law background should have been there.
3) I would want Bryant, Garnett, and Pierce leading on-court. I would not want Bryant and/or Garnett leading off-court.
Their emotional, competitive temperament that is ideal for playoff runs and championships makes them ill matched for negotiations.
This group, especially Bryant and Garnett, are prone to outbursts that result in ill-fated decisions like the storming of Stern’s office. Moreover, their situation does not reflect the needs of most in their union.
The consequence could well be a backlash from fans whenever the season does start.
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