Divide and Conquer: NBA Lockout 2011

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Saturday, October 29, 2011 with No comments
Divide and Conquer also known as divide and rule refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller groups from linking up.

David Stern 
Lets not shroud this in something that it is not, this is about winning, always was but winning is in part perception.  Take a look at NBA Commissioner Stern's press conference last evening after talks between the owners and the player union broke down again.  During said press conference, Stern took the misinformed on a magical tour through his world of spin where the owners supposedly "moved" yesterday from 47% to allowing the players to have 50% of Basketball Related Income "BRI".  That may have been news to the misinformed casual fan who wants the players to take a deal at all costs due to that type of fan being thirty for NBA basketball, but the reality is that everyone in the know has known that a 50/50 split has been what the owners have wanted all along.  There was no new revelations last evening from Stern other than the cancellation of NBA games through November 30th, but even with that news, it was expected to be announced once the week began anyway, so again many of you got spun yesterday
by Stern to put the players and their leadership at fault here.  The major players in the lockout are Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver who represents the owners versus Executive Director of the NBPA Billy Hunter and President of the NBPA Derek Fisher represents the players.   At its core it seems to be a fair fight, power matching power, equal sides but what if the sides aren't equal, what if the odds are in the favor of the NBA, what if in all reality the ratio is 3 against 1 with Hunter being the odd man out.

Michael Curry 
Last evening Jason Whitlock of Foxsports.com suggested that there may be a rift in the ranks of the NBPA.  In his piece Is Fisher in Stern's back pocket?  Whitlock detailed the sudden rise of power within the NBA Michael Curry, the previous NBPA president.  During his NBA career which started in the 93/94 season, Curry played for six franchises before retiring after the 2004/05 season.  Playing 11 years in the NBA is an accomplishment due to the fact that the average career spans about 4 seasons but Curry was known as a great defensive presence and a leader which is evident by Curry scoring only 2,986 points in his career.  To put that point total in perspective, during the 05/06 NBA season, Kobe Bryant scored 2832 for an average of 35.4 point per game while playing in 80 of 82 games.  Curry's career point total could be matched in a season by a player averaging 36.4 points per game as it has been surpassed in the past.

Curry's ascension throughout the NBA after serving as the NBPA was well chronicled by Whitlock.  June 21st of 2005, the NBPA agreed to the deal that just expired and a week later Curry stepped down as President.  A short time later, commissioner Stern named Curry the Vice President of Player Development for the NBDL.  As his ascension continued Curry would be named the NBA Vice President of Basketball Operations, and a year later assistant coach of the Detroit Piston and a year after that Head Coach of the Pistons despite little experience.  Curry is now the Associate Head Coach of the 76ers and perhaps positioned again to become a head coach.

This is relevant because Curry's ascension can be linked to an apparent link between Curry and David Stern.  If it's indeed true that Curry and Stern were linked when at a time they were supposed to be adversaries, could Derek Fisher be headed down the same road?  Is Derek Fisher selling out the players union for his own personal gain?  When negotiations broke last week, it was stated by Stern that there would be no more negotiations until the NBPA agreed to the 50/50 split of BRI but suddenly we had three days of meetings this past week.  According to Whitlock, there was a confrontation Friday morning between  Fisher, Billy Hunter, and another member of the executive committee based on the fact that Fisher has been "co-opted" by David Stern to deliver a deal of 50/50 to the owners.  Simply put there are major concerns about the relationship between David Stern and Derek Fisher with Billy Hunter being caught in the middle.

If Derek Fsher is truly working with Stern to deliver a 50/50 split behind the backs of the NBPA's executive committee then he has to be ousted a union President based on the fact that he is undercutting the union that pays him $2.6 million a year to be their president.  The NBPA's stance at this time is not to go below 52.5%  of BRI having already come down from 57%.  Each percentage point is worth $40 million and the owners are pushing for a ten year deal while the union would like to have a six year deal.  With that said the players have already agreed to give up $180 million per year for the duration of the potential deal, whether it be six or ten years, which equates to a substantial cut in pay because keep in mind that 90% of the players are making on average $5 million per year.  Fisher, a role player himself is throwing all of the other role players under the bus with his secret deal with Stern, again he needs to be ousted if the claims are true.

Derek Fisher & Billy Hunter
As David Stern spun the misinformed yesterday, he mentioned that upon hearing that the league's stance at a 50/50 split that Hunter ended the negotiations.  If Stern was counting on his improper relationship with Fisher to be his trump card, Hunter proved him wrong ending negotiations abruptly.  After yesterday's negotiations ended, no new negotiations are scheduled to take place, but we've heard this story before.  The owners want a BRI split of 50/50 and the NBPA wants a split of 52.5/47.5; this is where we are and before negotiations can start again Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter must bring their ideologies together and not just stand together at pressers.  The time is now to get this deal done but it has to be the right deal for both parties, no selling out, no me first mentality, this deal has to be done on good faith and not on undisclosed preconditions.  The players union must stay strong, must stay united because a union divided will usher in being conquered by David Stern and his minions.

Update:  Fisher responds to Whitlock's Claim