In the NBA lockout of 1998, NBA commissioner David Stern didn't draw a line in the sand for the cancellation of the full season of basketball until January, after months of games were missed. But Stern is reportedly starting that train right now, with ESPN's Marc Stein and SI.com's Sam Amick each reporting that sources say the league has threatened to skip a partial cancellation and axe the entire season next week if the parameters of a deal aren't reached soon.
The immediate reaction to the reports is that it is a bluff, a negotiating tactic aimed at getting players to soften up on the key issues at stake. Amick implies that it will have the opposite effect as the union calls in its star players, including Dywane Wade, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, to attend the weekend meetings in New York.
What's clear is that after the Rosh Hashanah holiday, we're in crescendo mode. The lockout has been real for a minute, but heat is coming on fast.