If we’re going to have to sit here and talk about the NBA lockout, at least now we’re getting some entertaining voices on the subject. For weeks it seems like just about everybody involved with the NBA’s work stoppage said little more than they wanted it to end. Now, Matt Bonner, the vice president of the NBA Players Association, is calling out both the owners and David Stern.
Bonner claims that the players have offered up all of the concessions and the owners none up to this point. That sentiment then prompted the question of whether David Stern has been lying and Bonner initially says yes, then backtracks and says he’s at least mis-characterizing when the commissioner says that he’s proud of the owners for offering concessions. Now we’re talking!
Matt Bonner joined TSN Radio with Cybulski & Company to discuss whether the lockout has gotten personal, if everyone realizes that the potential for a lost season is real, if the players would ever accept a hard cap, whether David Stern is lying, how the players are holding up in terms of solidarity and his frustrations with why a deal can’t get done now.
Has the lockout gotten personal from your point of view?:
“No, and you know, that’s the thing. It can never be personal. It’s got to be business, and being vice president of the executive board and being present for all of these negotiating sessions, I think it gives the owners a little edge because they’re not as emotionally tied to the game as us players are sitting on the other side of the table.”
Has the potential for a lost season become a realization to everyone at this point?:
“Absolutely. That’s definitely weighing on everybody’s mind. The last thing we want is a situation like what happened with the NHL. We’d like to think that the NBA business snapshot heading into this collective bargaining agreement is vastly different than what the NHL was experiencing when they locked out for an entire year. We’re not trying to hit a home run. We’ve been making concession after concession, trying to address all the owners’ needs and just try to somewhat preserve the system we’re used to. Unfortunately they’re anchored in. They want it all; they want their system and a huge give on the financial side. Until we can start to compromise, it’s not looking good.”
Is there any conceivable notion that the players would accept a salary cap?:
“A hard cap at the limits they’re talking about? No. … That’s probably the most important thing to us players. We’ll talk about putting a super-tax, a more stringent luxury tax than what currently exists, to further restrict teams from spending over the salary cap. … But to say we’re going to put in this absolutely hard cap and move to what we see in the NFL with much shorter contract lengths and basically no guaranteed contracts, that’s the last thing that we want to happen.”
Is David Stern lying?:
“About certain things, yes. Lying is a strong word, mis-characterizing for sure. He talks about the owners, that he’s proud of the owners for the sacrifices they’ve made and the concessions they’ve made. They haven’t made a single concession. We haven’t asked for one thing more than what we had at the expiration of our last CBA. In fact, we haven’t even asked for any thing the same as the last CBA. We’ve made concessions on basically every front. … Despite that, they’re still anchored in at this extreme positions at both their split of the revenue and system issues.”
There has been some talk about some players ready to cave in. Your thoughts on that?:
“We’ve got to keep together over 400 players and out of the 400, maybe there’s a certain small percentage that would take any deal. But I think as a whole we’ve been preparing for this for over two years and we know what’s at stake. … Guys are, for the most part, informed about why we’re locked out and why we need to hold firm and everybody’s on the same page. To me that’s more scary than anything, because if the owners think, ‘We’ll just get them chasing their tails at negotiations and eventually they’ll just crack and fold and give us everything.’ They’re going to be in for a surprise, and that scares me, because then we’re looking at a situation like the NHL.”
More on the frustration:
“From my position, you’re going to start to ask yourself, ‘Why are we not getting this ball rolling?’ It’s kind of a philosophical paradox in that you know eventually, at some point, a deal is going to be made. It’s not like there’s never going to be the NBA ever again. So for simplicity’s sake, why not let’s get a deal now? … We had a 15-hour meeting and it’s like pulling teeth trying to get anywhere with these guys. It’s just frustrating and leads you to question, they must not be ready to make a deal.”