FOX Sports Exclusive
Is Fisher in Stern's back pocket?
This is opinion: The latest NBA lockout stalemate is all about the basketball-related-income (BRI) split. The owners want 50-50. The players want 52-48.
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This is fact: The belief that NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher has been co-opted by commissioner David Stern — and promised the commish he could deliver the union at 50-50 — caused NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and at least one member of the union’s executive committee to confront Fisher on Friday morning and make him reassess his 50-50 push, a source familiar with the negotiations told FOXSports.com Friday afternoon.
A veteran NBA player familiar with the negotiations characterized the concerns about Fisher’s allegiance as similar to the concerns about Michael Curry in 2005, the year of the league’s last collective-bargaining agreement.
Curry, an 11-year NBA player who earned about $15 million for his career, was the union’s player president from July 2001 through late June 2005. At age 36, he played 18 games for the Indiana Pacers during the 2004-05 season, his last season. The NBA and the union agreed in principle on the now-expired labor deal on June 21, 2005. A week later, Michael Curry stepped down as the union’s president. On Sept. 8, 2005, David Stern announced that his alleged former labor-agreement adversary would be vice president, player development for the NBA Development League.
“Michael has always expressed an interest in helping to develop young players whose potential has yet to be realized,” Stern stated in a 2005 release. “His personal experience in development leagues and ultimately as a valued NBA veteran, makes him a perfect fit to contribute to the mission of the D-League.”
In August 2006, Stern announced Curry would be promoted to NBA vice president, basketball operations. Curry left that job a year later to serve as an assistant coach on Flip Saunders’ Detroit Pistons staff. A year later, Joe Dumars and Pistons ownership made the bizarre decision to turn their team over to the highly inexperienced Curry, giving him a three-year, $7.5 million contract. Curry was fired after one season — $7.5 million richer.
Do I need to connect all of the dots?
The player rollbacks began in earnest with the 2005 deal. With Fisher — a 15-year veteran who has earned $57 million — allegedly in Stern’s hip pocket, the owners are determined to remake the system and reduce the players’ BRI to 50 percent.
In my earlier column exposing Fisher’s and his assistant Jamie Wior’s inappropriate role in these labor negotiations, I pegged Fisher as a real-life Stringer Bell, the smooth-talking character whose reckless ambition got him in trouble in Season 3 of “The Wire.” The truth is, Curry was Stringer Bell. Fisher is the real-life Cheese Wagstaff, the loose-lipped, double-dealing idiot who got Prop Joe killed.
As I said in my original column, David Stern is a real-life Marlo Stanfield.
Guess that makes me Slim Charles, and “this is for Joe.”
According to my source, at least one five-time champion, NBA superstar with the initials K.B. was on board with Fisher’s push for a 50-50 split. Hunter is firm that the players should not accept less than 52-48. According to my source, Hunter and a member of the executive committee convinced Fisher to stand firm at 52-48 after they questioned the Lakers point guard about his relationship with Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
According to reports, Hunter ended Friday's negotiating session, telling Stern the union would not budge on 52-48.
It has been my belief throughout this process that Fisher is the wrong person to be the president of the union. He has earned a substantial amount of money from playing in the NBA. But not enough that he can’t be influenced and baited by the NBA establishment.
Union president is a difficult job. Looking out for the best interests of superstars, stars, role players and bench players is extremely complex. The difference between 52 and 50 percent won’t come out of the salaries of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. It’s the bottom 325 players who are going to be squeezed financially.
This is opinion: Billy Hunter has to answer to the bottom 325 players. Derek Fisher has to answer to the superstars and David Stern.
This is fact: Fisher and Hunter haven’t been on the same page throughout this lockout.