Representatives of the owners and players emerged from the umpteenth NBA lockout negotiation session on Wednesday (actually, Thursday — this one was of the 12-hour variety, 1 pm to 1 am), with an agreement to continue to negotiate on Thursday. Neither black nor white smoke emerged, but rather a bunch of smoke blown up our collective butts. That and the telltale sign from covering media via Twitter: ‘Two different press conferences, you know what that means.’ It means no basketball.
No news is not good news, it’s no news. Yet, people are forced to look for silver linings, some citing the mere fact that NBA commissioner David Stern “stopped the clock” (his words) on a previously given ultimatum of a 5 pm Wednesday deadline (for a player acceptance of the owners’ offer) as a positive sign. Afterward, neither side could publicly say whether progress was made.
“I can’t characterize whether they showed flexibility or not in certain system issues,” said player rep Derek Fisher. “Nothing was worked out today,” said Stern. Media sources have, however, indicated a semblance of progress. “Progress was made on three system issues,” wrote the Twitter account @WojYahooNBA.
When asked by Howard Beck of the New York Times if the NBA was in a position where they could give the players some semblance of what they want (in terms of in exchange for a 50-50 Basketball-Related Income (BRI) split) Stern said, “I don’t know how you would define ‘some semblance’.” Exactly.* Nothing appears as it seems, or vice versa.
There are no indications optimism nor pessimism the Commissioner told us. So into an uncertain tomorrow (or later today) we go. The mystery on the evening/morning, however, might not be the details of the negotiations, but why player union rep and Washington Wizard Mo Evans seemed unable to restrain chuckles on several occasions. I like to imagine that Dikembe Mutombo was sitting in the front row with a dry erase board drawing pictures of things that would like to sex him.
These are the faces of a post-NBA lockout negotiations press conference: