There’s one thing I’ve learned from this lockout, and it’s that Billy Hunter and David Stern are friends. The way they speak of each other, their friendly chats when the deals are close, just point to the fact that while on two sides, they have one goal: To get a deal done. While limited by the people they represent, they certainly are closer than most “mortal enemies” would seem. And I think Billy Hunter knew exactly what message David Stern was trying to deliver on that podium, when delivering his doomsday threat. — “This is not an ultimatum”
Strangely enough, Stern told the truth. Why? Because it was a bluff. The non-negotiability of the deal, the 5 PM deadline, it was all a ruse to get the players to deal down to 50%. I doubt the owners care about luxury tax penalization as much as they care about the millions that’d fall into their pockets if the players accepted a plain old 50-50 split. Hunter probably knew this, and he almost certainly knew what the players, with the majority of them stuck in the mid-level would want from the union — a deal increasing the likelihood of them getting a job on a championship team. Something, that they’ll surely get if they stick by their plan.
Do I believe in a deal today? A bit. Do I believe both Stern and Hunter are doing everything possible to appease their employers in order to get it done? I do.
In the end a blatant lie might turn out to be the truth.