September 12, 2011
Last week, New York Knicks shooting specialist and players' union vice president Roger Mason Jr. caused a stir when his Twitter account spontaneously combusted and mistakenly told everyone that it was "looking like a season" would happen for the NBA. It was a case of talking out of turn, or maybe just paying too little attention to the buttons on his phone. Computers sure can be confusing sometimes.
Leaks happen, though, and it's likely that some news of progressing labor talks would have come out several days after Mason's errant missive. So it should come as little surprise to hear that union president Derek Fisher(notes) has been covertly texting many of his colleagues to tell them to make sure they're in shape for an upcoming NBA season. From Sam Amick for SI.com (via EOB):
On the heels of Roger Mason's(notes) now-infamous tweet in which the NBPA vice president wrote, "Looking like a season. How u," but later claimed his account was hacked, one league source claims that union president Derek Fisher text-messaged numerous players last week indicating that some progress had been made and imploring them to be physically prepared just in case the season started on time. There was another curious happening on Thursday, when -- according to ESPN's Chris Broussard -- NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver attended the U.S. Open with Wasserman Media Group CEO, Casey Wasserman.
In addition to being one of the most influential agencies in the NBA, Wasserman Media Group relies heavily on an agent who just so happens to have a history of pushing back harder than the rest during a lockout landscape. Arn Tellem - who represents a league-leading 34 NBA players, including 10 All-Stars -- drew the ire of commissioner David Stern and union executive director Billy Hunter during the 1998-99 lockout for taking a more extreme position than most of his colleagues.
According to one agent, the current-day Tellem is as extreme as ever in his views. It is believed that he is a strong advocate of a capitalist system that is far less restrictive than even the previous agreement and is an ardent fan of decertification. If progress had, in fact, been made in the current negotiations, the notion of a high-ranking league official like Silver checking in with the most staunch of opponents to gauge the likelihood of bridging the largest of gaps would seem to be a natural next step.
It's true, everything we've heard over the past two weeks seems like a step in the right direction, if not exactly a clear sign that a deal will get done soon. A lot still needs to be taken care of before the league can start back up. For all we know, Fisher's texts were the basketball equivalent of a mother telling her kids to remember to eat their vegetables while they're at sleepaway camp.
Or, heck, perhaps both sides were on the path to a resolution and the leak of this information well make things more awkward at the bargaining table. Then again, if that's the case, then the uneasy partnership between the owners and players was probably never built to last. The tenor of negotiations can change quickly, but a leak affecting a resolution seems pretty unlikely. Making reference to the existence of a season that both sides ultimately want isn't going to hurt anyone's feelings too much.
So don't feel too bad if this news, along with everything we heard last week, makes you more optimistic that you'll see NBA games some time before the fall of 2012. Things are looking up, although the end may be in the stratosphere.