By Matt Moore
There have been a lot of ridiculous stories during this lockout. JaVale McGee denying a quote given to reporters with a half dozen recording devices in his face is a personal favorite. There's Ken Berger's 50/50 cake. We've had "enormous consequences," 3 a.m. press conferences, and of course, "How u?."
Tuesday night saw some pretty freaking ridiculous stories.
It started with a column from FoxSports.com's Jason Whitlock, who has written literally hundreds dozens four posts on the NBA lockout, asserting that Derek Fisher wanted to go 50/50 and Billy Hunter wouldn't let him. The piece pretty much painted Fisher as a sellout over his head. Point!
Then later in the day Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a column painting Hunter as the destabilizing force. Woj's assertion is that the union has lost confidence in Hunter's leadership, and would like a vote on a 50/50 BRI-split deal brought to the union for a vote. Counter-point!
If you're looking to read into this, you've got sources inside the union telling two different columnists two different things. Can you feel the stand-united-ness?
Now, the appropriate action would be to not respond to reports, to continue on with leading the players. Make some phone calls to players who are particularly vocal. Sending a letter isn't going to help because then that just gets out to the media and it looks like you're squabbling and desperate for damage control.
So naturally, the union sent letters. Lots of letters.
Billy Hunter tossed aside discussions of a rift with Fisher and tried to get the horse under control, so to speak, by taking aim at the league. When in doubt, slam the side that's costing your constituents money. But wait, they're not through! Derek Fisher released his own statement threatening legal action against FoxSports.com concerning the allegations. The theme is clear. "Everything is fine! We are good! No problems, here! It's the NBA's fault and we won't back down!"
Problem is, that's not how it comes off. It comes off as a fractured leadership trying to undergo damage control. Multiple media outlets after the breakdown in talks last week said that this would be when things got "uglier."
This is about as ugly as it can get.
This is why the NBA is so forceful with keeping owners away from the media, why they are levying fines against their own owners for innocuous, common sense tweets that anyone can figure out. Micky Arison was fined half-a-million dollars for saying that he wasn't behind a move to prevent the season and restructure the deal some more. Anyone paying half-attention could have figured that out. But the league knows the more that is said, the more things get out of control, which means the more they have to respond to in the press, which means less time staying focused on getting what they want.
There's been a lot of talk, some of it from me, about how flawed and nearly insane the league's stance has been. But if their position is out of whack, their execution has been flawless. The union's requests are reasonable, undersatandable: a deal where they don't lose their soul, their hat, and everything with it. Bu their execution of their defense has been sorely lacking. This situation is a clear example of that.
In totally unrelated news, no talks are scheduled between the NBA and NBPA.
Today is day 125 of the NBA lockout.