This past Wednesday, the Player's Association renewed lockout negotiations with the NBA at a Manhattan-area hotel. Though little progress was expected to be made on the lockout negotiations which so far have resulted only in verbal sniping from both sides, the meeting Wednesday showed dramatic improvement in negotiations. 

"We decided on Papa John's", said NBPA President Derek Fisher. "In the beginning we were skeptical that any compromise at all could be reached, but we just put our heads down and went to work." According to the New York Times, the NBA initially refused to budge, with NBA Commissioner David Stern citing the "awesomeness of Little Caesars' Hot-and-Ready pizzas for carry-out", but eventually the two sides were able to come to a deal when nobody wanted to get their car and drive to pick up the pizza. 

In an official statement, the NBA said that "this day of compromise gives us hope for the future of the league and hope for NBA fans everywhere. We are extremely pleased by not only our ability to reach an agreement but also by the quality of the Meat-Lover's pizza, down to the very last slice." 

"You should have seen [Deputy Commissioner Adam] Silver just dig into that slice of Papa-J's Hawaiian", said Fisher. "It gave me goosebumps. It's a hopeful image for the future of our league, our players, our player's children, and the future of humanity and the world itself."

Though no future talks were scheduled, the negotiators who attended the meeting were in unanimous, emphatic agreement that Papa John's would be the exclusive caterer for all meetings in the future. 

Do commissioner David Stern and his deputy Adam Silver have reason to smile after today's session?

NBA owner and union representatives had their second negotiating session in New York City today, as they attempt to arrive at a new collective bargaining agreement following the expiration of the previous CBA on July 1, and subsequent owner-imposed lockout of the players.

While no specific progress was reported, and Derek Fisher had this to say about today's talks, "I wouldn't say there is a change in either side in our approach or ideologically. We're in the same place. We're where we have always been in terms of certain components," the two sides did agree on a couple of foundational points about the nature of future negotiations.

The last session seemed only to inflame both sides. After today's session, each side is speaking some of the right words and fewer of the counterproductive ones, which can at least give us a sliver of hope.

More after the jump.

First, each side claims they will pick up the pace of negotiations. Today's session was only the second sit-down between the sides in the past two months, and owners and players promised to press on with more urgency from here on out. Said Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver:

"We're not going to get a deal done unless we spend time together and that's progress unto itself given how infrequently we have met since the lockout began. It's difficult to characterize the meeting other than there is no question both sides want to avoid missing games, or missing training camp for that matter."

The second point, which I consider to be at least as important, is that each side promises to cease and desist the verbal sniping that has gone on in the media since their last negotiating session. They say they'll do their work behind closed doors, but won't follow each session by going to the media to complain about the other side, or even to inform the media on the details of any progress or lack thereof.

Said Fisher:

"As a group, we agreed to continue to focus on getting the deal done and try and stay away from the verbal jabs and the back-and-forth and really try to remain focused on the deal points. It's not in anyone's best interest to get into what happens in the meetings from here on out. There is too much to go through to try and come out of meetings saying what did and didn't happen. Things seem to get spun out of control either by us or by them."

Amen to that. I get the negotiating ploy of trying to win the public relations battle, but ultimately both sides lose the PR battle here no matter what. I think I speak for most fans when I say, "just shut up and get to work."

I wouldn't go so far as to call these items cause for enthusiasm, but I would say that they are at least not cause for further pessimism. That's a modest achievement, for sure, but it is a modicum of progress when we've had less than zero for the past two months.

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Hardwood Paroxysm recalls the brief and brilliant career of Richard Dumas. This is an excellent read, Suns fans.

Before the 2011 baseball season started, nobody gave the Arizona Diamondbacks much of a chance of finishing any better than third or fourth in their own division. It made sense, as they were 27 games...

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