Mark Bartlestein: “They’re looking for blood and they’re pushing a system that would set back professional sports a long way”
by Chris Fedor
The NBA Lockout continues to be more and more frustrating and while there are always negotiations before any kind of agreement like this can be made, it doesn’t seem like these are healthy negotiations. On the one hand the players are saying one thing and on the other hand Commissioner David Stern is saying something else. The two sides are not even close and after listening to a prominent agent’s perspective with this interview, the players and the agents are growing more and more frustrated with the antics that they think the owners are using during the negotiations. As a sports fan and an outsider it always looked like the sides in the NFL negotiations wanted to get a deal done. In these negotiations it seems like one side, the owners, want to flex their muscles and get things their way.
Mark Bartelstein joined Fox Sports Radio on Petros and Money to talk about what he makes of David Stern’s comments after it was announced that the first two weeks of the regular season were cancelled, what he makes of the current deal that the owners didn’t want to continue, on David Stern’s comments that the agents don’t want to keep the union, and when he thinks games will be played in the NBA.
On David Stern’s comments after it was announced that the first two weeks of the regular season were cancelled:
“I heard a lot of them and I’m probably biased on this thing obviously, but I also think I try to be very objective about it. For me it’s hard to sit here and listen to David’s comments. I know what he is doing. He is a master at spinning this thing. I don’t think he gives a real, fair, picture at all in terms of what is going on in negotiations. The fact of the matter is the players have come a long, long way and have made huge concessions already in the spirit of trying to get a deal done and have not been met at all by the owners. They’re looking for blood and they’re pushing a system that would set back, not only the NBA, but professional sports a long, long way is what they’re trying to get accomplished in this deal.”
On the deal that was previously in place:
“In my opinion the current deal is not a good deal for the players. That’s where there’s a lot of misinformation out there. In the free agency system that now exists in the NBA it’s not a true free agent market. In any given year you generally only have two or three teams maybe four or five at most that have real cap room. Last year was an anomaly because you had all these teams that saved money for a long period of time because all those free agents were coming on the market at the same time. In a given year you generally only have a small handful of teams that have cap room and you’re a star player, let’s say a point guard, and those teams that have cap room don’t have a need for a point guard you have nowhere to go. We’re in a system right now that believe me is very, very restrictive and yet the players are making concessions in the current system to try to help the owners get what they’re asking for. In any business when it is all said and done ultimately what determines your success is the decisions you make. If you own a business and make good business decisions you have a chance to be successful. If you make bad decisions you’re not going to be successful. I don’t think it’s all on the players to make this thing fool proof for the owners.”
On David Stern saying that the agents don’t want to keep the union:
“It’s just not true. It’s just not true at all. There is no one that I know that doesn’t want there to be a union. There has been all this talk about decertification. When it is all said and done what I want and I think other people want is a deal that is fair for the owners, fair for the players, and helps the game grow. The problem is if you’ve been negotiating with someone for a long time and they aren’t really negotiating with you and not meeting you half way in the effort that you’re making then at some point you have to look at what are our alternatives? I think Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher are doing everything they can to try to make a deal and sit down at the table and negotiate with the owners but they can’t make a deal by themselves. It’s just not a true statement to say we don’t want there to be a union. There’s no question we want there to be a union. Union has done a great job for the players over the years, have provided tremendous benefits but right now you have a league that in my opinion is not negotiating in good faith with the Players Association so it’s put them in a very tough position.”
When the NBA will get back to playing games:
“I really don’t know. Obviously we all hope the same thing, we’d love to get playing as soon as possible but right now there’s certainly a pretty wide divide and I know the Players Association desperately would like to make a deal, they want to get the players back to work, and I would hope that the league and the owners would feel the same way. But at some point you gotta make a deal.”