The NBA Lockout has now officially lasted about two months than longer Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries and it continues to be a frustrating time for NBA fans around the world. Commissioner David Stern and the owners made a new proposal to the players and the deadline for them to accept the current deal on the table is close of business today. Based on all the words that came from the player’s side last night, it looks like the players are not going to accept this deal. NBA Hall-Of-Famer Rick Barry is one of the more opinionated guys that I have heard when it comes to talking about the lockout and he is pointing the finger at just one person. It’s not David Stern and it’s not the owners. It’s the Executive Director of the Player’s Association, Billy Hunter.
Rick Barry joined KNBR in San Francisco with Gary and Larry to talk about what punishment he thinks is fair for Joe Paterno at Penn State, what he makes of the NBA Lockout, what he would do about the lockout if he was still a player in the NBA, whether or not he thinks the owners are being fair with their demands, and whether or not he thinks the league will return by Christmas.
On what punishment he thinks is fair for Joe Paterno at Penn State:
“First of all, he made an egregious error by not reporting this, looking into it, and letting it fall by the wayside was irresponsible on his part to say the least. There has to be some kinds of consequences for that without question. It’s just unfortunate that things like this actually do take place. I’m all for the severest penalties when it comes to things like that.”
What he makes of the NBA Lockout:
“If I was still a player today I would be totally ticked off by the fact that we didn’t make a deal months ago. I really do believe that this could’ve been resolved and should’ve been resolved a long time ago. Why they always have to come down to this I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of Billy Hunter. I think Billy Hunter is one of the worst things that happened to the NBA. Yes he got them an unbelievable deal last time but he also was responsible for the lockout in the late 90’s which cost the players one third of their salaries basically and got nothing for it. The same thing is happening here. What they’re doing is they’re making a situation which is a bad situation worse by standing firm. Standing firm for what? You’re standing firm to get nothing. All you’re trying to do is minimize the losses that you have to accept in order for there to be a deal put in place. The owners have made it perfectly clear they can’t survive with the way the deal was last time. I keep reading these statements ‘well we’re not going to give back what we fought so hard to get.’ Well what you got was more than you should’ve gotten. Accept it, lick your wounds, make a deal, take a little bit of a reduction. Plus what I’ve heard is that they’re not actually going to lose their salary. The guys that are playing now, it will have no impact on their salaries. This is for the future. Chauncey Billups coming out and saying ‘I’m willing to lose my 14 million dollars.’ For what? That’s just idiotic from an economic standpoint.”
What he would do about the lockout if he was still a player in the NBA today:
“I would call up all the top named players that I know, I would go on as many radio interviews and TV interviews, and I would call up and be talking to the executive board and Billy Hunter and saying ‘hey we want to play ball”. This is ridiculous. For them to take the position and assume the majority of their members would not want to hear the 50/50 proposal brought to them, saying we can’t bring that to our members here. Baloney! It’s your responsibility to bring it to the membership. The majority of guys who are going to be affected by what’s happening here, it’s a big deal for them. 70 percent of these guys, they’re fighting over these exceptions and all that other stuff. 70 percent of the guys in the freaking league will never be a part of the mid-level exception.”
Whether or not he thinks David Stern and the owners are being fair:
“Yeah. These guys are making so much freaking money, they have the best deal of anybody in sports and they’re saying ‘guys look we screwed up.’ We gave you a deal that was so freaking good but times have changed, the economy changed, and we can’t survive with this deal. We have 22 of our 30 teams losing money and you know sometimes they insult people. I know for a fact there was an independent party that went out and did all of the research to get all the documentation for the dollar values and what the teams are doing. One of the top executives in the NBA signed off on it and he signs off on it and then the NBA Players Association, Billy Hunter, is saying we don’t believe these numbers.”
If he thinks the NBA will resume playing by Christmas:
“I would think so. If they put it to the vote of the players I would think the majority of the players are smart enough to realize this is foolish, that they’re losing more and more money every single day that they don’t start playing basketball and they’ll come to an agreement so we will have training camps opening up and basketball by Christmas. If not, the game is in serious jeopardy. It’s not going to be a good thing for NBA Basketball if they don’t agree to this deal.”