NBA owners and the NBPA had a quiet July. There were no negotiating sessions and few verbal grenades thrown by either side. Monday's first meeting between the parties since the lockout started seems to have unleashed the vitriol. Since the meeting, commissioner David Stern expressed harsh words for the union, accusing them of not bargaining in good faith, and then the owners took legal action against the union. Yesterday in Baltimore, union chief Billy Hunter had this to say, as per the Chicago Tribune:
"The circumstances have changed among his (Stern's) constituency," said Hunter, the executive director since 1996. "In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they're doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire."
Because negotiators are dug in, Hunter said "something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face."
Asked by a conference attendee whether there would be a 2011-12 season, he replied: "If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no."
Reason for alarm? The first impression is that of course we don't want to see each side launching Scuds at the other. Eventually, they'll have to arrive at an agreement and it ultimately does neither side any good to damage the other. They need each other to run a successful league.
However, I see it another way. It was inevitable that it was going to come to this, and the sooner it bottoms out after each side has unloaded their weapons, the sooner they can start to get serious about resolving the conflict. This is all part of the dance. Sure, it's a crappy dance and not close to as fun as the one pictured above, but this is where we are now, and the statements and actions we've seen this week were going to happen sometime. Might as well get them over with now; it's more helpful than each side sitting on their hands doing nothing.
I saw Nash’s humanity for the first time four years ago, during the first NBA game I ever covered. It was a preseason matchup between the Suns and Seattle SuperSonics (RIP), held in Vancouver (also RIP). After tossing his shoes into the crowd, Nash walked into a packed interview room to talk to all of the reporters that had come out to see him. On his way, he noticed a family in the back of the room. The family had recently lost their son. Nash immediately went over to them and comforted them, hugging, talking, smiling and looking at photos of their son that was gone far too soon. While we waited, silently touched by the emotion openly being shown by the family and by the genuine humanity being shown by Nash, we all knew we were watching something beautifully real born out of a painfully fresh tragedy.
Unfortunately or fortunately-depending on how you feel about the man, Paul Shirley weighed on leadership, thoughts on Amar'e Stoudemire, and a comparison between how Nash leads versus Kobe Bryant:
Like, Nash is not only going to tell you, “Hey, I need you to do this,” he’ll come back and say “Thank you for doing that, I appreciate it.” Bryant is apt to roll his eyes when a teammate misses a shot.
And for those of us who wonder why it has been so difficult to jettison Nash to a winner and complete the rebuild of the Suns, it is stories like these that make it so hard for us to see a day when this leader takes off his Suns jersey for the last time, never to wear the purple and orange again.
"Since the players get 57 percent of every dollar and we've seen their salaries go from $250,000-a-year to $5.2 million... I actually take some pride in that, because that meant that the revenues were growing, and we could be in a position to see players making that much money." From Andrew Sharp/SB
Although the NBA lockout is still in full effect, there are still some exciting basketball games and exhibitions going on to help the fans satisfy their cravings. One such event is the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown featuring amateur dunk contestants from around the country. Ten semi-finalists have been chosen out of hundreds of contestants, and now the fans will choose who will move on to compete in the championship
Fans are encouraged to visit the site nba.com/dunk to watch videos of the ten semi-finalists, and then vote for their favorite two dunkers before August 12th. The four semi-finalists with the most online votes will be chosen to compete for a chance to win $10,000 in the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown Championship in 2012.
Take a look at the last Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown Championship earlier this year in which Haneef "Young Hollywood" Munir competed against Terry "T-Dub" Cournoyea.
Who will be the champion in 2012? Visit the Sprite Slam Dunk showdown site and take a look at the contestants and then cast your votes!