Another week has passed without the NBA and its players reaching an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that would end the lockout. For some players, the financial consequences of the lockout are much more serious than for others. Rookies, of course, have yet to start earning a salary. And for others like Tyson Chandler, who played a big role in the Dallas Mavericks’ title run last summer but is currently not signed by an NBA team, the lockout means not knowing where they’ll even be playing next.
Chandlerjoined ESPN Radio Los Angelesto talk about who he believes is the best player in the NBA right now, his frustration with where the lockout negotiations stand, why he believes that the players have ample leverage in the negotiations, his response to the belief that players will ultimately give in because they’ll run out of money, and how he plans to write a letter to the countless others (parking attendants, jersey sellers, etc.) who are hurt even more by the lockout.
On who he considers to be the best player in the NBA right now:
“I would go with Dirk. It’s funny, I tweeted about it and I’ve been catching the same flack about it. But I feel it’s proven by what he did last year, what he did to the Lakers, what he did to Oklahoma City, what he did in the Finals, throughout the whole playoffs Dirk just became a man possessed. He went to a whole other level offensively. People talk about what he did defensively, but he actually stepped it up better during the playoffs last year and became a better team defender. And my whole thing is if you outscore the guy defending you by 10 to 15 points, then you’re playing pretty good D.”
On his reaction to the stalled lockout negotiations and where he thinks they stand:
“It’s really disappointing because I’ve been to a lot of the meetings, I’ve talked to Billy Hunter, I’ve talked to Derek Fisher and I’ve gotten information from both sides. And I feel like we’ve come down a lot on the concessions, we’ve given up a lot of points on the BRI, we’ve been ready to negotiate with the system, and I think for the owners to say a take it or leave it deal and we’re not going to talk anymore unless you take this deal 50-50, I think it’s unfair. It’s unfair to the players, it’s unfair to the fans because it’s only going to lead to a longer lockout. A negotiation is a negotiation, and that’s the way it should be, but this is more dictators than anything, and I don’t feel this is going as a negotiation.”
On what he’d say to the question of the players not having any leverage in the negotiations:
“Well we are the product, and I’ve said from the get go, if the owners want to take that spin than we should take the lockout. The owners, you can’t find any other players like we have in the NBA. You’re not going to find them overseas, you’re not going to find them in college, you’re not going to find them anywhere else. We have the Kobes, the LeBrons, the Durants, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Derek Rose, Blake Griffin — those guys are selling out your arenas night in and night out. There’s a reason the Clippers draw the attendance that they do — it’s because of Blake Griffin. He’s putting the money in the owners pocket. And those guys that are making money, they don’t want to lockout, they don’t want to see this thing drag on. But there are owners in the other cities that aren’t making money, I understand that, and so that’s the reason that we’ve came back so that those owners can at least break even. Now if you put a better product on the floor and you go out in free agency and make some hits and make a splash, then your team will get exciting again and you’ll get some attention and people will start going to your games. But ultimately the players are the product.”
His response to the players having to ultimately give in because they’ll run out of money:
“Well I don’t agree with that because, first of all, we’ve had two years to prepare for this. So we’ve been preparing. I myself have prepared for a long lockout and a long haul. And the only guys that will be suffering from this situation and hurting, and it’s unfair for those, are the rookies who didn’t have a chance to come in and earn a paycheck. But we’ve had guys like Kobe step up and other pros step up and say we’ll play in charity games, we’ll play in games to fund-raise and make guys money to help guys pay their bills throughout this lockout. So we’ve banned together. And that was huge for Kobe to say that to help guys out because obviously he’s a big figure and a big attraction in our games. So we’ll come up with ways to survive during this lockout.”
What he would say to the countless other people whose jobs and livelihoods around the country that are and will continue to be affected by the lockout:
“I apologize to those people for all the foolishness that they have to deal with right now in all honesty. It’s funny you should ask that, I was going to write a letter to those people to apologize because I know that not only is it affecting myself and my colleagues, it’s affecting them even more — the parking attendant, the guy who sells jerseys, the guy who sells the popcorn. And I apologize to them because I know how hard it is to make a buck right now. And the fact that the owners are taking the stand that they’re taking, it’s unfortunate. We want to play as players, we want the lockout to be over. This is not a strike where we walked out, this is a lockout. And now they’re saying we’re not even going to come back to the table unless you guys take this 50-50 deal when we’ve already come down. And we’re saying ‘no, let’s talk about the system.’ Because the system is probably more important to us than the small points that you’re talking about. But they won’t even look to the system now and I think that’s why they walked away and broke negotiations yesterday.”