NBAPA VP Maurice Evans on NBA Lockout: “Both sides really were ready to walk a few times, but again cooler heads prevailed.”

November 30, 2011 – 6:00 am by Steven Cuce

The NBA lockout will reportedly come to official end in the very near future pending unforeseen circumstances. If a new collective bargaining agreement is in fact signed and execute as expected, the NBA will feature a 66-game regular season tipping off on Christmas day.

Despite the perception of the big market owners and elite players winning yet again in this round of NBA labor negotiations, Maurice Evans, the vice president of the players association, would like to contest that point and point out that David Stern and Billy Hunter should be commended for their efforts to end this lockout in an equitable manner before the two sides potentially did irreparable harm to their brand’s image with fans far and wide.

Maurice Evans joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco to discuss the NBA Players Association still existing after the lockout, the perception that the owners were the big winners of the negotiations, the owners and players coming together during the Thanksgiving holiday in order to end the NBA lockout, believing that some NBA owners wanted to blow up the season and what the owners/players can do to win NBA fans back now that basketball is scheduled to resume in December.

Vice President of the NBAPA? Can I still call you that? Is that accurate to call you that?

“Yeah the NBAPA does still exist. The union doesn’t exist and the agreement is in a litigation settlement, [which] is what we are referring to it as.”

Are the people who says the owners won big in the lockout and the players did not right?

“I would probably say that is the furthest thing from the truth. I think both sides really conceded a lot and I think you gotta give tremendous credit to the owners and to the NBAPA to Billy Hunter to the former executive committee to the guys who were in the room really working out the deal. Seriously…I think this is a really great deal for us and the fans should really be proud of the fact that everybody went in there and got it done, so we could have a season and we put ego and emotion aside and everyone made concessions – the owners included.”

Was it a surprise that the winds shifted so quickly and the players and owners decided to meet over the Thanksgiving holiday?

“Yes I do because I think that obviously not being able to talk about all the details of the litigation and what the ramifications would have been if we had not gotten that done. I think that would have totally shifted what the settlement agreement would have looked like on both sides. I think that being able to go in and get – that was really probably our last chance to make something happen. Both sides really were ready to walk a few times, but again cooler heads prevailed and we were able to reach an agreement.”

Did you believe there was a group of owners that were ready to blow up the season?

“Yes I do and believe there were players equally ready to sit for an entire season. There was a lot of resistance coming from both sides and again I really have to…I can’t underscore enough that Billy Hunter the way he guided us through this entire process with his experience – keeping guys together and David Stern doing the same for the owners because this was a difficult time for both of them. David Stern to his credit in the past he’s had owners that he’s been able to more willing to control and trust his judgement and now a lot more owners who are buying in with the mindset that even the hockey owner’s mindset that there’s going to be a drastic change coming this year. I think the both of them – like I said you can’t commend the both of them enough for helping guide us to this tentative agreement.”

What should the league and players do to win the NBA fans back?

“Well for one I think we should go out there and make it worth their while by playing our hearts out and for guys to really leave it out on the floor as we’ve done in the past. I think for ownership they should be appreciative and maybe in some form of a discount or form of something that just shows our fan appreciation and even more so for baring with us through this lockout time and this could potentially be a 10-year deal, so I think our fans should understand as well that we really went in with the understanding of trying to sign something that was long term, so they wouldn’t have to go to this every five or six years.”

Listen to Maurice Evans on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco here

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