Star Players to Sit Out Next CBA Meeting?
CBS reports that the League’s marquee players’ feelings are too hurt to take part in the next meeting with owners: “The NBA owners and players will meet next week for their first negotiating session since All-Star weekend, three people familiar with the meeting told CBSSports.com Wednesday. It’s a key step in what has been a futile process thus far, with both sides tempering the rhetoric in recent months but still far apart on a deal that would avoid a work stoppage at the worst possible time for the league. But it’s not so much who will sit at the negotiating table on Aug. 11 or 12 in a swanky Manhattan hotel, but who won’t be there that sends the strongest message about where these negotiations are headed. The last time owners and players sat down, two days before the All-Star Game in Dallas, you’ll remember that the session was charged by the presence of 10 All-Stars — led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony — who were sufficiently offended by the owners’ rabble-rousing. In particular, the star players were rankled by comments in a CBSSports.com article Jan. 29 in which an NBA team executive ridiculed their objections to owners’ desires to slash the length and value of maximum contracts, as well as impose a hard salary cap. The quote that prompted James, Wade, Anthony, and other All-Stars to blow off their “day of service” activities and attend the meeting in an act of defiance to the owners was the following: ‘If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” the team executive said in the article. ‘Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.’ At the time, National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said such rhetoric had “inflamed” the players and united them in their opposition to the owners’ draconian proposal, which Hunter said the owners rescinded at the All-Star bargaining session. ‘The players came in there and said, ‘We don’t want a fight,’ Hunter said at the time. ‘But if we’re not given any other choice, we won’t run from a fight.’”