As was the case this time in 1998, this weekend is (QUITE FIGURATIVELY) a do or die weekend for the NBA and its players to resolve the lockout. If a deal can be struck by Monday, a truncated collective bargaining drafting period/offseason/training camp/preseason could be scrambled together quickly enough to start the season a month later, working with all 82 games even if the regular season is delayed for a week or two. The heat, as Glenn Frey won't stop figuratively screaming at us, is on.
It's not on Bill Walton, though, according to Bill at least. From an interview with the Orange County Register (via The Basketball Jones), the Basketball Hall of Famer seems quite certain that everything is going to be all right:
[Walton] said he didn't want to comment on it then, hinting anything he said would soon become outdated.
"They're close," he said, grinning widely, as if he knew something he couldn't share about the negotiations between owners and NBA Players Association.
Does that mean he is confident there will be a full season?
"Oh, yeah," Walton said, grinning again. "They're close."
Walton was the keynote speaker during Thursday's Orangewood Children's Foundation "Ambassador Luncheon" at the Westin South Coast Plaza.
That's it for the other one, I suppose.
First off, nothing Bill Walton says will ever be outdated. Comparing Boris Diaw to Charlemagne, Emperor of the Romans, will always be relevant; as would his take on a labor negotiation that could move swiftly in a certain direction starting Saturday.
Secondly, Bill isn't as locked in with the NBA as he used to be now that he's toned down his TV work. Then again, his son Luke Walton would seem to have teammate Derek Fisher's ear.
Lastly? It's Bill Walton. Everyone stop and listen.
More and more estimates are coming out that suggest that the lockout isn't worth the owners' financial time, and it especially isn't worth it to the players that will be making absolutely nothing without any games. And while owners and players preen away about how ready they are to lose games (and some awful owners, such as Phoenix's Robert Sarver, definitely don't want a season), there is a chance the Basketball Related Income split could be hashed out this weekend once the two sides determine what, exactly, goes into a 2011-era BRI pie.
While Walton might be reading the same tea leaves we are -- whether that's watching our Tweetdeck for updates from hotel lobby-based scribes or actually trading texts with those inside the negotiations as they happen -- he's right to show some confidence. We all are, actually.
And if we're wrong? Well, forget those guys; and that's a natural fact.