Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/3/11
If you believe even half of what you read and hear, the NBA players union is a mess. Owners hate to tell the players we told you so, but Of course, the owners arent the only ones saying the union eventually would fall apart. Everyone from reporters to fans to labor experts have been predicting the same. That doesnt mean everyone is taking the leagues side in this lockout. It just means most Americans understand the idea that he who has the most money almost always wins. Either way, the next round of labor talks (scheduled for Saturday in New York) promises to have a different feel, maybe even a different tone. After all, a lot has happened since the sides met last week. There have been reports of a possible rift between union executive Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher.Also, some players have said both privately and publicly they are OK with the 50-50 split of basketball-related income (BRI) sought by the league. Or depending on whom you believe, a lot of players are OK with it. Even if not entirely true, it will be in the back of the minds of both parties during Saturdays negotiations. It may not come up, but anyone who thinks the unions reported differences wont act as an elephant in the room is kidding themselves. Another thing thats becoming even more evident is that a certain group of owners is willing to kiss off the season to get exactly what it want. They are known as the hardline owners -- or those from the smaller markets who want the new collective bargaining agreement to offer every organization the same opportunity to compete. While no one is saying who exactly is in this group, theres been talk that its growing. For the players, that might mean the owners offer really is likely to get worse (as commissioner David Stern has been threatening for weeks). So a 50-50 split of the BRI really could turn into 52-48 in favor of the owners. Otherwise, just shut it down, the owners seem to be saying. And then after a season of not getting paid, the players might be faced with an offer of, say, 55-45. Again, this isnt taking anyones side. This is just the reality of labor wars. Or at least, this particular labor war. The men in charge will concede on a few issues they dont really care about, but get their way on the big stuff. The union, it seems, is starting to grasp that. Paychecks, games and endorsement opportunities are being missed. Players dont appear to be on the same page. Reports of Hunter getting ousted once the lockout ends are rampant. Meanwhile, all the owners have to do is lean back, smirk and brandish a Red Auerbach-like victory cigar. And now the players must make a decision: Do they want the cigar to be merely lit, or do they want the smoke from it to be blown in their faces? Because if you believe even half of what you read and hear, this game is over for the players. Their best remaining move would be to tip their cap to the other side and just play ball. In fact, if they really want to play, its about the only move they have left. Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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