As we watch the NFL trot into a work stoppage, we are reminded that the NBA's own lockout drama is just months away. Just as NFL players decertified their union on Friday, the NBA is in position to do so, having gained player approval in team-by-team votes earlier this season. But a report by Sam Amick's NBA Confidential indicates that the union is taking extra steps to get players motivated, unified and active ahead of the NBA's potential stoppage.
Amick reports that NBA union officials including Billy Hunter met with player agents on Feb. 18 as the league began to assemble in Los Angeles for All-Star Weekend. That meeting preceded the official sessions with NBA players, union officials and NBA team owners on Feb. 19, a meeting that was reportedly cordial but unproductive. But a second unofficial meeting on Feb. 18 draws more interest.
Amick reports that Hunter and his team met with the handlers for a number of NBA superstars privately, without agents or the players present. The handlers and associates invited to the exclusive, secret session included LeBron James' manager Maverick Carter, Kevin Durant's brother Tony, Derrick Rose's brother Reggie, Dwight Howard's cousin Kevin Samples, Chris Paul's brother C.J. and associates for Joakim Noah and Blake Griffin. To say it's unorthodox for Hunter and the union staff to meet with representatives from that set of players is an understatement. Amick reports that at least one agent was angered by the meeting, feeling that by meeting with the associates, Hunter legitimized their power.
Credit Hunter with thinking outside the box, but be nervous that it could show the first sign of internal fracture within the union.