David Stern appears to have put his foot down in the most David Stern way possible. The New York Times has obtained (funny word there) a copy of a letter Stern sent to the NBA Players Association detailing the owners' take-it-or-leave-it proposal. In the letter, Stern pretty much threatened the NBPA, writing this:
"Rather than simply proceeding, as we could have, to offer a less favorable proposal at this time, the N.B.A. is providing an additional period of time for the players association to consider our 50/50 proposal," Stern wrote. "We are hopeful that the prospect of a less favorable outcome for the players will prompt the players association to realize that the best deal that can be reached is the one the N.B.A. is prepared to make right now."
Stern closes, "Billy, I sincerely hope that we can reach an agreement over the next few days."
In other words: "Take it, or else."
The specifics of the proposal are laid out in the Howard Beck piece. Many of these things seem like fair compromises, though that's in part because they stand in contrast to the other proposal the owners put on the table if the players reject this one. That proposal includes salary rollbacks, a very unfavorable BRI split and much, much more. As a basketball fan, I want the players to just cave and play basketball, but I'm also being selfish. I'd absolutely understand if the players were upset with the tone of Stern's letter.
Meanwhile, I'm still amazed about the PR strategy of letting an ultimatum like this leak. Why advertise a measure to strongarm the other side? Wouldn't it be wiser to do what the NFL did and publicly sound more collaborative? This is the Stern playbook, and I still am confused by it.