Billy Hunter and David Stern Are Ready to Battle

by March 22, 2011

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

In many ways, the battle began a long time ago, and things will only get worse (and bloodier) from here on out.

If anyone still had illusions about the NBA not facing a lockout this summer, Yahoo! has a story to steer you in the right, wholly depressing direction.

Check out the stunning moment that took place in Los Angeles, during All-Star weekend, in front of the League’s biggest stars.

NBPA executive directory Billy Hunter and Commissioner David Stern went head-to-head:

And then he started to tell them he had thought long and hard about the way Oscar Robertson and Jerry West staged a protest at the 1964 All-Star Game, threatening a boycott until they had leveraged the league into the most rudimentary of medical benefits and pension contributions. Yes, Hunter had been thinking long and hard, losing sleep over the possibility of declaring an uprising of his own … In the end, Hunter stopped short, insisting the All-Stars had an obligation to play the game, but the message to the players was unmistakable: Hunter wouldn’t back down to Stern, and maybe even had the ability to rattle him, the way the commissioner and owners had been trying to unnerve the players.

So livid, Stern would barely even look at Hunter when Hunter handed him the microphone. And soon, Stern started reciting his résumé, his decades of labor fights and legal battles in the NBA. Here’s how much the NBA was worth and here’s where I’ve brought it, he said. Everyone could see the anger rising within him, but no one expected the words that tumbled out of his mouth. Stern told the room he knows where “the bodies are buried” in the NBA, witnesses recounted, because he had buried some of them himself. “It was shocking,” Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose said. “I was taking off my gear, and when he said that, I just stopped and thought, ‘Whoa …’ I couldn’t believe that he said it.” Rose wasn’t alone. Said another All-Star in the room, “I was shocked … just shocked.”

Hunter, who seems to think his best strategy is to go public with his (and the players’ side) of the story, continues to insist that owners are lying when it comes to the depth of their financial woes.

Unfortunately, whoever emerges as the winner in this epic fight, in the end, the biggest losers will likely be fans of the NBA.