NBA lockout: Kobe Bryant seeks to avoid 'nuclear winter'
Naturally, Kobe Bryant wants the ball in his hands. But this has nothing to do with hitting a game-winner. It has everything to do with helping to secure a labor deal before the 2011-12 season is drastically affected.
"We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we're too close to getting a deal done," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. "We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter."
The players union plans to meet Tuesday, but hasn't indicated whether its representatives will meet with NBA owners. Whether it's a legitimate threat or a hard-line negotiating tactic, NBA Commissioner David Stern has issued an ultimatum giving the players until Wednesday to accept a contract offer that involves granting them a band of 49%-51% of basketball-related income, depending on a season's revenue streams. After Stern outlined that proposal during a meeting Saturday, players union members remained skeptical that they'd ever receive 51% of BRI and indicated that they wouldn't allow Stern to intimidate them into accepting what they consider a bad deal.
Still, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work at play. During a conference call last week, about 50 players discussed the possibility of decertifying the union, a process that would take at least two months and could lead to a prolonged and expensive court battle. Wojnarowski also reported that Lakers guard Steve Blake has talked to friends around the league, urging them to contact team representatives to push the NBA Players Assn. to let its 450-plus members vote on the owner's offer.
As for Bryant, he reportedly wanted the players union to accept a 50-50 split. That hardly jibes with Bryant's pre-lockout mantra that owners need to make more concessions and look in the mirror about poor financial systems. But with the clock ticking away on his chance to secure another championship, Bryant clearly is showing that he'd rather just play. It remains to be seen whether his colleagues feel the same way.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant. Credit: Matteo Bazzi / EPA