The NBA and NBPA finally meet again: Fan’s take

It took 31 days for the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to have their first post-lockout meeting. It took another 30 days for the two parties to come together for their second meeting.

On August 31, the two parties met for just the second time since the NBA lockout began on July 1. The small three-on-three bargaining session took place in a Manhattan hotel and lasted approximately six hours. In attendance for the NBA were Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and head of the labor relations committee, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt. The NBPA was represented by union Executive Director Billy Hunter, union President Derek Fisher(notes) of the Los Angeles Lakers, and union Deputy General Counsel Ron Klempner. If the two parties continue to get together so infrequently, the NBA and its fans will most likely lose games due to a work stoppage for the first time in over a decade.

The talk coming out of this second meeting suggests that both the NBA and NBPA understand the harm that a work stoppage will cause. "We discussed virtually everything that was on the table. And there was an agreement that we need to continue meeting and pick up the pace," Adam Silver said. Although neither side would divulge details of what was discussed or even say whether progress was made, they do seem to recognize the urgency of the situation.

"Everyone loses if we don't reach an agreement, that's something that I think has always been understood," Derek Fisher said. "But … the urgency is just continuing to build and increase on both sides, and we're going to remain focused on finding a way to get this done."

This sentiment was repeated by Silver, who said "I will say we are not apart in terms of an agreed urgency on getting a deal done and we're not apart on the need to avoid missing games and we're not apart on the agreed impact that will have, not just on our teams and our players, but the communities in which they operate in as well."

Considering the rhetoric and legal maneuvering that resulted from the first meeting on August 1, the fact that both parties, after this second meeting, openly acknowledged the negative impact that a work stoppage will cause can be deemed as progress. The fact that the two parties met at all can also be deemed as progress. But until the NBA and NBPA start to close the $7 billion chasm that is between them, no meaningful progress (progress that will result in a 2011-2012 NBA season) can be made.

Real progress in these negotiations may not take place until the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) makes a ruling on the unfair labor practice charge that the players filed back in May. Whichever side the NLRB's decision favors will probably gain leverage in these negotiations.

David Stern believes that there is "clearly enough time" to get a deal done in time for the regular season to begin on November 1 as scheduled. But for that to happen—NLRB ruling or not—the two parties will have to meet and talk repeatedly over the coming weeks.

If the NBA and NBPA can "pick up the pace" and have a meeting or two before the next NBA Board of Governors meeting, which is scheduled to take place on September 15, NBA fans can hold on to a faint glimmer of hope that the season may begin on time. If the parties fail to meet over the next couple of weeks, there will be almost no chance of the NBA season beginning on November 1.

Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings on RandomNBAFan.com.

More on the NBA lockout:

The 2011-2012 lockout-threatened NBA schedule: Fan's outlook

Information from Sports Illustrated's League, players show renewed sense of urgency with labor talks, NBA players, owners hold labor bargaining session in New York, NBA owners, players make progress in latest labor meeting, and Time for players to give a little in sluggish NBA labor talks was used for this article.

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Updated Thursday, Sep 1, 2011