Oct 15, 2011, 6:42 PM EST
The NBA veterans at the end of their careers say that the reason they’re so committed to holding the line, particularly that 53 percent line, is to protect the players that came after them. The players who have already gotten their tipoffs in and are out of the game? They’re a little bit more realistic in terms of what’s happening and how this thing ends.
First we have Charles Barkley, who has done a rash of interviews (SHOCKING INFORMATION) lately and did an interview Friday with Phoenix radio. He’s not exactly critical of the commish and his tactics against the union.
Barkley on the owners: “They’re not going to let us become like baseball where we have the haves against the have-nots. That’s why we have the best commissioner in sports. . . David Stern is trying to do what’s best for the small market teams.”
Barkley on Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony talking about starting a new league:“That’s right up there as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. That’s right up there with new Coke.”
Barkley on Commissioner David Stern’s proprieties: ” No. 1, have a hard cap. Secondly, have better revenue sharing. Or get the owners 50-50 (BRI split). It’s going to be one of those three ways to be honest with your. They can forget the way things are going now, that they’re going to let all these stars play and kill these small-market teams. I can promise you that or they’re not going to play at all.”
There are a couple of things here. One is that Barkley’s not necessarily criticizing the union, he’s just stating what he feels is a fact. For Barkley it’s not whether the players should have to give up so much, it’s that there’s no way to avoid it. Second, you might want to remember that Barkley is great friends with Michael Jordan, who he credits with a vast majority of the popularity of the NBA. With Jordan on the owners’ side, it’s curious that Barkley would be taking this approach, unless his relationship with Jordan has led him to believe the commitment from ownership to scuttle the ship rather than surrender it.
Meanwhile, there’s Reggie Miller, who spoke alongside Barkley in a television interview earlier in the week. Barkley noted the players have to accept 50-50 or there won’t be a season. Miller? He’s in the same mindset.
“If you listen to (Player’s Union head) Billy Hunter’s words when he said, ‘because of the economy, I don’t think the league or the owners want to lose the season,’ well they (the owners) absolutely do want to lose the season,'”Miller, speaking on NBA TV’s “Game Time” Tuesday. “In 1998-99, we weren’t in the middle of an economic downturn. We were coming off some of the biggest ratings ever with Michael Jordan retiring with the second of his three-peats.The fan base was there and the TV ratings were there in ’98-’99.”
Asked how many games he thought would be played in 2011-12, Miller said 50 — the same number that were played in the ’98-99 season.
The players sure could use the biggest stars of yesteryear standing with them, but those guys are paid by NBA.com and its partnership with Turner. Plus, they’re not speaking ill of the union, they’re just saying there’s no way to avoid it. The owners have the leverage.
And they intend to use it.
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