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NBA players’ union stresses unity after meeting

Sep 15, 2011, 5:40 PM EDT

Derek Fisher speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York Reuters

Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter didn’t lead the players in a rendition of “Kumbaya” at the post-meeting press conference, but it was pretty close.

After stalled out negotiations with the league followed by days of stories about how a group of powerful agents are trying to force decertification on the NBA players union — to break up the union against the leadership’s will — it should be no shock that the theme after Thursday’s players’ meeting in Vegas was unity.

As in we are shoulder-to-shoulder and not fighting amongst ourselves. So stop asking.

Following a three-hour closed-door meeting, players came into a post-meeting press conference wearing “Stand” T-shirts. NBA union president Fisher said that the players are solid and standing firm. (Quotes via tweets from TNT’s and NBA.com’s David Aldridge)

“there is not the fracture in our group that has in some ways been reported.”

“If the owners were looking for some kind of break in the ranks…that was put to bed.”

As for decertification, union executive director Billy Hunter said it is was not really discussed, is not in the immediate plans, but not off the table either. Basically, that remains the union’s last resort.

“we have all of our options on the table…we will review and assess all of them as time goes on.”

The NFL players union decertified immediately after that league’s lockout began (clearing the way for players to sue the league on anti-trust grounds). But NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith spoke to the NBA players Thursday and told them decertification is not a “silver bullet.” He said solidarity mattered more.

About 40 players were at the meeting (not all the guys in Vegas for the “lockout league” even bothered to show up) and while the discussion was “lively” the message the union tried to send was unmistakable.

The owners likely don’t buy into the unity dog and pony show. Especially when you see tweets like this from Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix while Fisher and Hunter are still speaking?

While Fisher and Hunter spoke of solidarity today, more players are leaning towards decertification, according to two veteran players.

What all this ultimately means for fans that the current stalemate may last a whole lot longer. Which sucks.

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