There are two reasons for sending out a state of the union letter. The first reason is to inform your constituents of your progress and where you stand as a whole. This is the reason the President holds a State of the Union address at least 2 – 3 times a year. It allows the citizens to be a part of the process/progress. The second reason to send out a State of the Union letter to quell any feelings of discord or doubt. The back to back letters sent out by union President Derek Fisher and Executive Director Billy Hunter on consecutive days should be seen as more of a plead for unity than an informational guide to the progress/process of the labor negotiations.
In surprising fashion, the most important person in these labor negotiations has become FOXSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock. His article about Derek Fisher’s backdoor wheelings and dealings has sent the player’s union into a damage control frenzy. Stephen A. Smith has also said that what Whitlock wrote in his article is basically true. If anything, even if this story is not entirely true, there still is some truth to it. Unfortunately, the seeds of discord have already been spread and the damage has been done.
Within the past 24 hours, the divide between players has become very evident. This morning, Boston Celtics free agent Glen “Big Baby” Davis tweeted , “Take the 51% man and let’s play.” Houston Rockets swingman Terrance Williams tweeted, “Hey @TheNBPA Let’s play BALL enough with the stare off”. Recent reports have said that Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant have both indicated that they would take a 50/50 split. On the other side of things, Oklahoma City Thunder big man Nazr Mohammed tweeted, “Since I have @NBA & @NBA_Labor’s ear…Why can’t y’all come up to 52.5% since we already gave in 100’s of millions & on system issues?” A later tweet by Mohammed stated, “Don’t know what the percentage will be but I’m willing to #StandUnited with my union cuz players b4 me did it when I was a rookie. #OnlyFair”.
Another thing that lends credence to the fact that there may be discord among Fisher and Hunter is what’s at stake for both of them. Hunter’s legacy is on the line as this seems to be his last hurrah as union Executive Director. He may be reelected to lead the union into their next labor negotiations in 6 – 10 years, but with how much the union has given up in these negotiations, that does not seem so certain. Hunter is trying to get the best deal possible (52.5%) to lessen the blow the owners are trying to place on the players. On the other hand, Derek Fisher is still a player, and at the bottom of his core, probably wants to do everything possible to get this thing done and play ball. Fisher is on his last leg as far as his playing career is concerned and the Lakers are still one of the favorites to contend for a championship.
It is pretty fascinating to see the middle to lower tier younger players start to bite their nails at the prospect of missing paychecks, while the older veteran players (who have, more than likely, been saving up for this day) are pressuring all the players to stay united and stay the course. Add to that, the dialoging in the media by the NHL players who suffered through a lost season and a lost season’s worth of pay, while coming out on the other side of the lockout in a much worse position than when the lockout started.
The cracks and fissures are starting to become chasms. The quiet whisper of discord is starting to become a booming roar. Eventually the person with the most money, usually wins the battle. The owners are billionaires whose income is not solely dependant on the ownership of their teams. The players, on the other hand, are completely dependent on the paycheck that comes from playing the game of basketball. The most important meeting of this labor negotiation has yet to occur. Many people think the most important meetings of this labor negotiation happened within the last two weeks. The truth is that the most important meeting of these labor negotiations will come on Thursday, when the players’ union meets to discuss their next plan of attack.