Originally written on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 6/25/14

18 Mar 2000: Etan Thomas #33 of Syracuse University battles for position with Marvin Stone #24 and Souleymane Camera #40 of the University of Kentucky in round two of the Midwest Region of the 2000 NCAA Men''s Basketball Championship at the Goodman Arena at Cleveland State University Convocation Center in Cleveland, Ohio.<> Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT


The NBA is relatively close to a collective bargaining deal, according to many reporters in the know. One of those reporters, Chris Sheridan called the remainder of the negotiations “a layup.” Another, Ken Berger noted that missing the first two weeks of games would lose the NBA more money than submitting to the players association demands, and vice versa. But if the two sides are so close, why has the public relations battle remained simmering? Is the continued media bout just a part of negotiations, or something else?

The PR tactics of both sides reek of subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) hostility. In his most recent press conference David Stern revealed a discussion held between Stern and the union, in which Stern asked a handful of union representatives whether they would accept a 50-50 split in basketball-related income. The union was reportedly “livid” with Stern for voicing the discussion, which was not an official offer. But Stern’s talks certainly helped his own cause: by revealing the owners’ (real or perceived) willingness to move to a 50-50 split, a move that represents a $1.3 billion change from the owners’ previous stance, while also backing off their desire for a hard cap, Stern put the onus on the players to accept what could be the league’s greatest offer.

Matt Moore of CBS Sports took Stern’s comments exactly the way Stern hoped everyone would.

The players have to take this deal the second that percentage ticks up, and it will this week. The owners, after two years of bullying and absurdly insulting proposals, have gotten serious and offered real proposals which the union can take. They get back a lot of what they want, set the table for further wins in the next CBA, and get the “reset” they’ve been pushing towards. The players and owners both save face. The players just have to know their position and take the win.

That’s what this is. A win. A big ol’ win that represents the players dodging a catastrophic possibility of being forced into a hard cap, a sub-50 BRI percentage, and the loss of any and all flexibility. Theyv’e done it. They’ve held together long enough to get things where they need them to be. They still can get a 50+ cut of the BRI, and have gotten the hard cap off the table.

This situation the players are in? They’re up three points, and the opponent has the ball. The players can foul, lose the points (the drop from 53 where they wanted to stay), and take the win (avoiding complete pillage), or they can try and defend the perimeter. But in this case, the opponent is trotting out a lineup of five Ray Allens.

For the first time, the players are in control. They get to make the decision on a reasonable deal. They can save the season, save the jobs, save the damage to the game, save their own paychecks, their own careers. The owners have moved, finally.

Give the points.

Take the win.

But the players weren’t so impressed by Stern’s (unofficial) offer. In a letter to the union they knew would eventually be published in the press, Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter wrote, “Reducing our share of BRI by seven points to 50 percent – a level we have not received since the early 1990s – is simply not a fair split. We refused to back down.” Fisher and Hunter also said the negotiations are “far from over.”

Then, union executive first vice president Etan Thomas took the hostility to another, entirely less subtle level while writing an open letter on ESPN.com. Thomas wrote a hypothetical piece from the owners’ perspective and took a blowtorch to the owners. Read the entire piece, if you enjoy witty sarcasm, harsh tone and NBA owner bashing.

So why, if the two sides are so close, do we have so much hostility? Why does the public relations battle mean so much, if the lockout is set to end by Monday and then lockout public relations no longer matter? Why don’t the two sides have another meeting set, even though regular season games will be lost starting Monday? Is this just all the regular course of negotiations? Or are the best NBA reporters in the world possibly missing something?

It’s possible, likely even probable, the two sides are simply trying to negotiate and gain leverage. That makes sense. Using the media to help with negotiations isn’t exactly a new concept.

But there’s a resentment in the conversations that, if the two sides are really as close as reporters say, sparks my curiosity.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ex-Blue Devil tweeted Durham police pulled gun on him

Nick Saban gives Jim McElwain a ringing endorsement

Report: Bulls players did not endorse Tom Thibodeau

Chuck Pagano: Colts 'further ahead than ever before'

Somehow, the Patriots are going to be just fine

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dwight Howard says he's 'still a champion' after playoff exit

WATCH: Klay Thompson takes knee to head from Ariza

DeSean Jackson skips Redskins OTAs, goes to Cavs game

Texans to be featured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'

WATCH: Ducks score controversial goal

Report: Ray McDonald arrested for violating restraining order

The Cleveland Cavaliers are top (under)dogs

Bryce Harper on his breakout

WATCH: Jon Lester sets MLB hitless record

Golden State of Being: Ugly win a beautiful thing for Warriors

Six moves that made the Warriors NBA title contenders

Lil B takes credit for Harden's terrible game, lifts curse

Riley Curry steals show at postgame news conference

Warriors beat Rockets in Game 5, advance to NBA Finals

Kentucky fan in Louisville has 38-1 sticker on car

Nick Kyrgios talks sex before tourneys, dating female players

Jared Dudley: 'Melo is most overrated player in NBA

Garrick Sherman bashes NCAA in epic drunken Twitter rant

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Cavaliers are top (under)dogs

Bryce Harper on his breakout

WATCH: Jon Lester sets MLB hitless record

Six moves that made the Warriors NBA title contenders

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Star player missing OTAs? Keep calm...

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.