Originally posted on khandor's sports blog  |  Last updated 10/15/11

What today’s TrueHoop article REALLY means …

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The moment the talks fell apart

“System changes”

There’s another thing that could be happening, too.

Remember The Decision? That night in July 2010, something happened that angered basketball fans like nothing else. It can be framed as LeBron James being egotistical, or cowardly, or whatever else. But it can also be framed as a young black man just being sick of doing what old white guys tell him to do.

There was a playbook for free agency, a procedure, some decorum. And James tossed it. No, after earning Dan Gilbert the sun, the moon and the stars, he does not also owe him a phone call. No, he doesn’t have to let some other, whiter, older entity control the production of his announcement. No, he doesn’t have to stick to the storyline of local hero, or even player. He really does have the power to play GM, to assemble a super team, and that’s what he would do.

The message to a lot of fans was that James just got it all wrong. But the message to a lot of players was that James did what 1,000 players have been dreaming of doing for years — he acted fully empowered — and it’s hard to say he failed at it. He made his millions, and the Finals. His team is intact. His business life is sound. He’ll be contending for championships for years.

It’s a business revolution with young black men, basketball players, in the corner offices. A new way of doing things, long overdue, and happening now.

And maybe that’s what Stern encountered in that hotel room in New York: a new generation of fully empowered players who no longer believe they have to conform to much of anything.

Just three days earlier, with James in attendance, James’ teammate Dwyane Wade had yelled at David Stern. “You’re not pointing your finger at me,” Wade said, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher. “I’m not your child.”

On Friday, a role player for a middling team got a surprise phone call, from just about the biggest name in the sport — somebody who had never called him before. The message: Hold firm at 53. We’re not caving. Hang in there. It wasn’t the only call of its kind, and when you talk to players now there is religious fervor, around the number 53, and around not giving owners any freebies on the other issues.

Owners are indignant that they have endured dreadful losses that must be righted. Players, meanwhile, are indignant that compared to the old CBA every concession to date has come from them. The issues are sounding more religious than ever, and it’s doubtful that, at the moment, anyway, either Hunter or Stern is capable of rallying his followers to build a bridge to the other side.

And if it’s driven by players’ blossoming and deep-rooted self-determination, then they can’t be expected to budge. I just hope, for the NBA’s sake, that they chose the correct line to draw in the sand.

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is that there will probably be no 2011-2012 NBA season with each side involved in the current lockout unprepared to meet the other at the halfway point between 47.0% [i.e. the NBA owners' best offer] and 53.0% [i.e. the NBAPA's minimum requirement], in terms of Basketball Related Income [BRI].

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