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After over three months of stalled negotiations, the players’ union and owners brought in federal mediator George Cohen on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the hopes his oversight could help the two sides resolve their stalemate and end the lockout.
In the end, 30 hours of meetings over three days turned out to be just like the NBA season thus far: pointless.
Let’s rewind the clocks to the start of Tuesday and break down the most recent (and depressing) developments in the ongoing NBA lockout. We definitely will not be fast-forwarding to the part at the end where there’s no season.
Initially, David Stern had set Tuesday as the deadline for a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement in order to keep more games from being canceled. Maybe not every single egg was in this one basket, but there were certainly quite a few. It was Tuesday or bust.
That’s where federal mediator George Cohen came in. If anyone could resuscitate the 2011-12 NBA season, Cohen would be the man/mediator (or so we thought). He was appointed by President Barack Obama as Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director (I didn’t know such a thing existed, either) in 2009. He was called on to help negotiate the frightening NFL lockout this past year (I mean, just imagine if we had no basketball OR football right now). He also has been an advocate for MLS players, helping them with their union issues. You’re right, I’m sorry, no one cares. Long story short, Cohen theoretically had the experience and the expertise to actually make a difference.
On that first day, Cohen seemed to do just that. The two sides met for a prolonged (I refuse to use the word “marathon,” that laughably suggests some sort of accomplishment) 16 hour session. Progress was supposedly made, and by 2 in the morning, when the meetings supposedly ended, the first sign of hope arose. The owners put aside their egos and rescheduled their own set of meetings and conferences originally set for Wednesday and Thursday to make way for more discussions.
Sadly, Wednesday and Thursday saw the eggs crack in two as negotiations ultimately returned to status quo (apparently Latin for “stagnant”). Each side refused to budge on the issues of compensation and salary caps, and players and owners left Thursday’s meetings feeling as if they had been wronged by the opposing side. Quotes and accusations flew from Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, Player Union President Derek Fisher, and NBA Players’ Association Executive Director Billy Hunter. Apparently none of them knew that expression about living glass houses and throwing stones.
Meanwhile, George Cohen quietly exited stage left.
Unsurprisingly, no more meetings are scheduled.
Ultimately, the players and the owners worked what amounted to three ten-hour days, made little to no legitimate effort to strike a compromise, and then abruptly quit when the going got tough. Despite all those hours spent, efforts put forth, mediators hired, and articles updated, it appears the most recent flurry of meetings between NBA players and owners has given us nothing and gotten us nowhere. Not only are games through Christmas in serious and almost certain jeopardy now, the rest of the “upcoming” NBA season may be in doubt, too.
Sigh. I could sure use one of those.