Today was the first time a group of owners and the leadership of the NBA Players Association met since the lockout became official last month. Let's start with the good news: they're planning on meeting again. As Gabe Feldman (@SportsLawGuy) notes, that's good in and of itself, since the NFL had trouble even getting to that step.
Now, the bad news: everything else. Derek Fisher, the NBAPA head, said that the owners and players are in the same place they were 30 days ago, which would mean nothing got done. David Stern went one step further. Via Ken Berger:
Standing in a midtown hotel lobby after a nearly three-hour farce of a bargaining session - the first between the two sides since owners imposed a lockout on July 1 - Stern fielded one last question in a terse and decidedly glum media session. After saying, "I don't feel optimistic about the players' willingness to engage in a serious way," Stern was asked if he believes the players are bargaining in good faith, or not.
The grim-faced commissioner thought about it for several seconds and said, "I would say not. Thank you."
Stern walked off with that question, but not before making a silly comparison to another sport.
"From where we sit, we're looking at a league that was the most profitable in sports that became more profitable by virtue of concessions from their players with an average salary of $2 million," Stern said. "Our average salary is $5 million, we're not profitable, and we just can't seem to get over the gap that separates us."
This is pandering to fans who don't know any better. First of all, the NFL cap is $120 million. More importantly, the NFL has a revenue sharing plan the NBA doesn't come close to having, by virtue of all the network television deals. That, more than anything, allows the business to thrive. It has little to do with player salaries. Noting that comparison, while also accusing the players for, essentially, locking themselves out, is the very definition of negotiating in bad faith.
One thing to keep in mind with all of this: just why don't the players call out Stern's BS? Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports asked that question earlier today and dropped this nugget.
Strange, but the union never has the courage to bring up the mystery surrounding Stern's salary. Many owners don't even know what Stern makes. "I'd say three or less know," one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. Several believe it's somewhere in the range of $20 million to $23 million a year, but no one knows for sure. Maybe it's more than that, but the fact that some owners don't know the answer is beyond belief.
If that doesn't enrage you about this whole process, I'm not sure what will.