In what could be construed as bullying tactics, NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on SportsCenter Tuesday night to reaffirm the Wednesday afternoon deadline for the Players Association to accept the current offer put forth by the league's owners. According to transcripts of the interview from Mike Prada at Bullets Forever, Stern issued the following warning to players about the consequences of not accepting the current deal:
"We think there's a great offer on table, and we told the players, 'It's getting late.' The only rational thing is to make that deal because given what is going on in our business and our industry, it will get worse from there. We told the players ... an offer of 47% will become operative w/ hard cap in effect [if they don't accept]."
Stern also dismissed decertification as a viable option for players, citing what happened in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals when NFL players decertified this summer. Finally, Stern was asked about when the league might officially cancel the season altogether if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached soon:
"I don't want to say when we'll call off the season, because clearly we're not there yet and I don't want to make an idle threat."
The not-so-indirect threats made by Stern on SportsCenter reiterate the tone of a recent letter sent to the players about the danger in players declining the 50/50 deal put forth by the owners. Specifics of the owners' proposal can be read in a Tuesday New York Times column.
What's next? Who knows, but if Stern and the ownership group get their way, we may have significant news on the NBA lockout front as early as tomorrow. If the players don't back down down from the threats made by Stern, the impasse may really get ugly and entrenched as we enter what should have been the second full week of the 2011-2012 NBA season.