In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the cancellation of regular season games, NBA owners and the players' union will meet tonight and try to find the common ground that has so far been lacking, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.
Following NBA labor negotiations news can give a person whiplash. There is reason for hope, then talks come crashing down. The math dictates that both sides holding strong makes little sense when compared to the money that will be lost to them if games are cancelled. But there are human emotions involved here; there is pride. The same qualities we love in players when they are on our team, that they will never surrender no matter the situation, don't simply go away when they're off the court.
As CBS Sports' Ken Berger notes:
@KBergCBS: So to sum up, if games are canceled tomorrow, it won't be due to money or common sense. It will be due to ego and stubbornness.
@KBergCBS: That is the money part, which makes sense. The psychological aspect of negotiations, sometimes, does not.
We're almost there, but it means nothing until the deal is closed, and the only way that happens is if players are able to save face. The bottom line when a deal is reached is that the owners will win big. Are they ready to take their winnings, settle now and start the season? Or will they require the players to capitulate again in this final stretch of negotiations? We can only hope that it gets done one way or another. The "everybody loses" option is far too foolish.
Update 10/9/11 3:38PM PDT: Twitter is now blowing up with #fiftyonepointfive. 51.5% is the midway point between the owners' last offer of a 50/50 basketball-related income split and the players' offer of 53/47. Our own Toon Army Sun chipped in with:
@ToonArmySun: Steve Nash & Grant Hill don't have a lot of games left in their careers. Any games lost to this lockout will be a crime.
@HowardBeckNYT: Meeting over. Stern says no comment, except that they're meeting again tomorrow afternoon
Sure individual players are fun to watch on the court, the owners bankroll our favorite teams, the arena workers greet me with a smile and the front office staff spends all day and night trying to make my team better.
But which will I miss the most when games (at least preseason) are cancelled?
In truth, I won't really miss any of the above. Not Steve Nash, or Robert Sarver, or Lon Babby, or even Lupita the arena worker who smiles and hugs me every time I come through the tunnel to my seats. I don't know any of them personally, so how can I really miss them personally?
What I really miss is the GAME of basketball.
Not the individuals who dribble, shoot, dunk or sign the checks. I miss the sound of leather pounding hardwood, the squeak of rubber, the trill of a whistle, the 'and 1!' or 'umph!' on a contested drive to the basket.
There's nothing better than, as a potentially game-changing 3-pointer floats toward the basket, the entire crowd of 20,000 rises as one along with the ball, an anticipatory 'oooohhhh!' building like a wave on the ocean, ready to break into raucous roar when the ball drops through the net.
At that moment, who cares who put up the shot? Who cares who paid that player to wear orange and purple?
The only thing that matters is that MY player on MY home town team has the cajones to take a big shot that could change the future, and at that moment I'd probably promise my next born child to them if they'd just sink the damn thing.
I love Steve Nash because he makes the game look so pretty, so easy. I love being surprised by a pass to a suddenly open roll man, whose eyes get big as saucers when he realizes he's about to make SportsCenter.
But would I stop being a fan of the Suns if someone other than Steve Nash was passing the ball? No.
KJ was wonderful, as were Westphal, Kidd, Barkley, Chambers, Majerle, Manning, DJ... hell even Dumas, Ceballos, Miller, and most every other guy who donned the purple and orange over the years.
The only former Suns players I don't recall fondly? The ones who didn't buy into MY team 100% - like Vince Carter, for the most recent example.
But as long as a player, coach, owner or GM loved being a Phoenix Sun, I loved them back.
And that's because I'm a SUNS fan. And I want to watch MY team play basketball, no matter who dons the purple and orange. As long as they sell their souls to the Suns 100%, they have my loyalty. And as soon as they stop, so does my loyalty.
The lockout will be over soon. Rosters will churn. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 Suns will likely be a lot different.
But I don't care. Give me squeaking shoes, a bouncing ball, shrill whistles and a big-time 3-point attempt and I'll be happy man.