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David Stern: Lakers could miss Christmas Day game

October 13, 2011 |  3:26 pm

David Stern, Derek Fisher

The No. 1 lesson in following negotiations: Never take deadlines seriously.

They're artificial, intimidating tactics. If parties want to get a deal done, they'll get it done. That's why I rolled my eyes when I heard NBA Commissioner David Stern deliver the following comments Thursday to WFAN Radio: "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas day."

It's frankly irresponsible to set next Tuesday as the drop-dead date to determine whether the NBA season could start in time for the Lakers to host the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.  No doubt, the owners and players union remain divided on basketball-related income, with the owners conceding 47% and the players willing to drop from 57% to 53%. There remains disagreement over system issues, such as the hard cap, luxury taxes, size of raises and guaranteed contracts, which one agent told me is more difficult and important in reaching an agreement than the BRI. It's necessary to consider that once an agreement is reached, the NBA needs to set aside time for an expedited free agency and training camp period before the actual season starts. 

Yet Stern sees it necessary to be the Grinch That Stole Christmas before Halloween starts? Geez, and I thought Christmas shopping, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" reruns and clothing sales started earlier every year. It looks like Stern beat them to it. 

It's revealing nonetheless because it shows how willing the owners are to miss at least some of the 2011-12 season to ensure a deal to their liking. For the Lakers, that would mean missing at least 27 games should Stern's proclamation ring true. That would be one huge lump of coal that the fans don't deserve after being so nice to the NBA. 

-- Mark Medina

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