On the 77th day of the NBA lockout, prior to a 70-person NBA players' meeting in Las Vegas, NBPA president and Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher wrote a letter to NBA players urging them to remain supportive of the union's efforts.
I've made it clear, I want to play, Fisher writes. You have each made it clear, you want to play. The fans have been unwavering, they want their basketball. The thousands of employees that work in the arenas, the ticket offices, the concession stands, they want a season. We all want to go back to work.
Fisher passes the buck onto the owners instead.
This was not our choice. Our employers decided to stop allowing us to do our job, he writes.
The main point of Fisher's letter, however, was to assure players that the meetings in New York between the Player's Association and the owners were effective.
The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners, Fisher writes. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.
Fisher says the NBPA has submitted an agreement to the owners, who were at their own meeting Thursday in Dallas to create a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams. However, as the two sides work out their differences, Fisher urges the players to talk to him, who insists he has the players' best interest in mind, more so than agents or the media.
I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them, Fisher writes. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me.
Despite Fisher's sincere plea to his colleagues, an NBA season this year looks less and less likely with each passing day. More players are choosing to defect and play on international teams, but save for New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams signing with Turkish team Besiktas, no big franchise players like LeBron James or Kevin Durant have jumped ship to an overseas team. Yet.
We've never really had any discussions about decertification, says players' union executive Billy Hunter. As you're aware, we've obviously been experiencing some pressure, at least in the media, from some of the agents about decertification. But that's not a message that's crossed our lips.
What would be appreciated by the 400+ players would be the support of our agents and constructive ideas, suggestions, and solutions that are in our best interests. Not the push for a drastic move that leaves their players without a union, without pensions, without health care. We just aren't there, Fisher writes.
Fisher ended his letter with a call for strength and solidarity:
To each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this... I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15-year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much. I'm a teammate, I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a husband, I'm a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive. We're ready.