The players refuse to budge below 52.5% for their share of the BRI (it was 53% not too long ago, mind you), but should they hold secret ballots to determine just hard-line about this they all truly are? Newsday thinks it a viable option: “Here’s the answer to the ongoing NBA labor battle: Let the players hold a secret ballot. The lockout could have ended and the owners could have claimed their victory Friday night had Billy Hunter and the union stayed at the table when the most contentious issue of collective bargaining — the split of Basketball Related Income — re-entered what had been very positive, smile-inducing, momentum-building negotiations. But the Friday talks that began with Hunter saying the union would ‘spend as much time as we possibly need in the hopes of making a deal’ were abruptly halted when the NBA once again presented its scenario of a 50-50 BRI split. Upon leaving, Hunter said the union leaders ‘made it clear we could not sell a 50-50 deal to our membership.’ To which we say: Why not have a secret-ballot vote, just to be completely sure? ‘I’m afraid of what the answer would be,’ one longtime NBA player agent told Newsday when asked the same question. Even agents who have tried to influence the proceedings with warnings to hold the line at 53 percent — a 4-percent concession from the previous CBA — have started to find their messages aren’t reaching the lower 90 percent salary-wise. You can understand Hunter’s concern. It’s almost certain that anything presented to the players would be ratified. But the vote should be done by secret ballot — in 1999, players ratified the deal to end that lockout by an awkward show of hands — because very few players would want to appear as if they were breaking ranks or caving in.”