NBPA disagrees with JaVale McGee suggesting union is divided
Gazing at their Twitter accounts, some of the estimated 25-30 players attending the National Basketball Players Assn. meeting at the Beverly Hilton hotel Friday caught something that made their blood boil.
In this instance, it had nothing to do with NBA Commissioner David Stern. Washington Wizards center Javale McGee left the hotel at 2:50 p.m. -- about an hour and a half into the nearly three-hour meeting -- and told reporters outside something that would soon make the union jump into action to clarify.
"There's definitely some guys in there who are ready to fold," McGee said. "But there are some guys -- the majority -- who are ready to stand strong."
The players' union had already faced obstacles during prolonged negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement that have wiped out the first two weeks of the regular season and showcased that the players have little leverage. Now the union leaders have to worry about the perception that their members have started to split. Said one union official about McGee's version of events: "Guys were pissed."
That's why it's not surprising that NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, President Derek Fisher and Vice President Maurice Evans scrambled quickly in dispelling that storyline.
"The person that spent the least amount of time in the room can't make that statement," Fisher said of McGee, who left the meeting early for unknown reasons. "He's in no position to make that statement on behalf of the group. It's obviously fair in negotiations of this magnitude that we're going to have guys who have different opinions because we have guys in different positions."
Fisher acknowledged that some free agents, veterans and rookies alike could have those sentiments, before adding, "At the end of the day, it's our job to weigh statements made by guys who spend the least amount of time in the room versus guys' statements that spend the most time in the room. At the end of the day, we come out with a decision that's best for the majority of our guys."
And as far as the union is concerned, McGee's view hardly represents their majority viewpoint.
"It's a shame he left so soon because the pacifists in the room had to be me and Derek," Hunter said. "These guys behind us are extremely strident and they thought we were starting to weaken."
As far as what's actually true or not won't be dictated until the NBPA meets Tuesday with the owners and federal mediator George Cohen. For now, everything is just talk.
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