Look at this picture closely....
What do you see?
Well, there's Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Mo Evans, Tyson Chandler, Roger Mason Jr., Etan Thomas, Jason Terry, Andre Iguodala, Al Horford, and several other NBA players pictured.
Billy Hunter is also there, however he is being blocked by the back pack that Westbrook is wearing...yes, Russell Westbrook found it necessary to wear a friggin' back pack to the press conference!
What I see is a stage full on people influencing major decisions on a billion dollar industry.
You know what else I see?
MAYBE as many bachelor's degrees as you and I have fingers on one hand!
Clearly there are lawyers in the room and Billy Hunter is a barred lawyer, but these players are ultimately signing on the dotted line on how to restructure the finances of a billion dollar industry.
The players hear this: High profile players tell them they need to disband the union? They listen to a lawyer tell them that he's going to get them 3X's the money they were owed on their contract? All while sticking it to these rich owners who always let it be known that THEY can outspend the players and their teammates combined any day of the week?
This "negotiation" has been a complete joke and I'm not pointing fingers at either side as the both deserve plenty of blame for the point that they've come to and the future of the 2011-12 season, but I can't help but think that there will always be "issues" when these collective bargaining agreements end and a new deal is needed, because of the active players being so heavily involved in the deal.
I definitely think the players need to be a part of the process, but I'm not so sure that guys that have literally never spent a day in a college level class (hello Tyson Chandler), should have anything to do with making these agreements.
In fact, once the owners last deal was presented to the player reps, many couldn't even get in touch with their teammates to educate them on the latest proposal and collect their feed back.
This is a great example:
"[Los Angeles Lakers players rep Shannon] Brown said that the players' association was vigilant in sending out a steady stream of emails to its constituents as developments in negotiations occurred. He said he knew of player reps trying to reach out to their teammates only to find the phone number they were provided with had been changed or disconnected."
Billions of dollars at stake here and the player reps can't even get in touch with the players they supposedly "represent" to talk about the deal.
You think when Ted Leonsis was making major deals at AOL or Paul Allen at Microsoft or Micky Arison with Carnival Cruise Lines, that they couldn't be reached when the contract was on the table?
Of course not, these are educated, smart, and savvy businessmen that know how to negotiate, get big dollar deals done, and run major corporations.
What does the NBPA have on stage representing them? Russell Westbrook, his one semester at UCLA, and a back pack filled with no books in it.
The NBA: Where Amazing (Stupidity) Happens