Aug 17, 2011, 6:30 PM EST
There are owners counting on the players union coming apart at the seams. They are counting on players used to an extravagant lifestyle who, once they miss a couple paychecks, will start putting pressure on union head Billy Hunter to get a deal done fast. A deal on the owners’ terms. (The players would not get their first paycheck until Nov. 15, by the way, so do the math on missing a couple paychecks and think about what that means for the season.)
The players know all this, and the players are far better prepared for a lockout now than they were in 1998.
That includes some of the biggest names in the game taking a role to keep the union together. This week at a couple of union meetings — they took place in Las Vegas and Los Angeles — it was the big names trying rally the troops. According to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com, Kobe Bryant was doing the rallying in Los Angeles.
Before a star-studded audience of about 75 players in Los Angeles Tuesday, Bryant was “up front” and “deliberate” in a speech in which he urged players to maintain solidarity and “stand behind the union” during the lockout, according to a person who was in attendance.…
Bryant and Paul Pierce told players Tuesday it was important for them to “remain united” in the face of a lockout that has dragged well into its second month with only one full-scale bargaining session, the person who attended the meeting said.
If the owners insist on a strategy of breaking the union, this season will be lost. The players have been preparing for this for a long time.
The one bright spot in all this was the players authorizing Hunter to reach out to Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver — the league’s lead negotiator — to set up a negotiating session next week in New York.
Who knows what if anything will come of that, but the two sides at least sitting down at the table and talking again is a start.
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