After a half-dozen broadcast interviews starring commissioner David Stern, players' union director Billy Hunter took to the spotlight, speaking to reporters after 30 players met to discuss NBA lockout strategy in Los Angeles on Friday. Hunter came out as aggressive as you'd imagine, trying to fight back against Stern's push to make players look greedy. In the process, Hunter got a bit silly, suggesting that the league could lose teams like the Sacramento Kings to "forced contraction" if the lockout continues much longer.
"If everybody begins to dig into their respective positions, then I think the league will be decimated. It took us five years to recover from the 1998 lockout and there's probability that we may never recover [from this lockout]," Hunter told ESPN before Friday's sit-down with players. "I think there will be some teams that won't survive. Particularly if the season gets shut down, there will be teams that will not be around next year."
Of course, contraction of even one team would mean the loss of 15 union jobs and about $60 million in player salary. That's equivalent to about 1.5 percent of basketball-related income. It's a meaningless statement from Hunter.
The two sides are scheduled to meet with mediator George Cohen on Monday, with a full bargaining session on Tuesday. NBA owners will then meet on Wednesday and Thursday. No one expects a deal to come together next week. Stern has warned he'll kill all games through Christmas if there's no deal by the end of Tuesday.