Bill Clinton Cameoed At Today's Fruitless Lockout Negotiations

Let's take a brief respite from Penn State-related news to check in on the second-most miserable topic in today's sports coverage: the NBA lockout! If you've been following even from afar lately, you probably know that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan ruffled some feathers last week when he emerged as an outspoken leader of the owners taking a hardline approach to the deal. He, along with the others, do not want to agree to a deal that gives players more than 50 percent of the league's revenue.


This was, if you were keeping track—and plenty were—directly at odds with how Jordan the player felt about the 1998-99 lockout, when he told Abe Pollin, then owner of the Wizards, "If you can't make it work economically, you should sell the team."

Understandably, the league's current players have taken notice of Jordan's reversed views. Last week Wizards guard Nick Young announced that he'd boycott the Jordan brand, and today, after announcing that the Players Association still isn't ready to accept the owners' deal, Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher got in their own shots while fielding a question about the His Airness's remarks.

Here's Hunter:

I would give him the advice that he gave to Abe Pollin. OK? That's the advice I would give to him. He should take his own advice.

And Fisher, as you can see in the clip above, does an expert job of saying some things without really saying anything:

I don't have anything to say to Michael at this point. He's an owner, I'm a player; we don't see eye-to-eye. It's quite interesting. It's interesting to focus on Michael; I think there are several former players that quickly change their tune once they're done playing. And when you think of the amount of income that some of the players we're talking about were able to earn as NBA players under Billy Hunter as Executive Director—to now be on that other side and somehow say that, you know, we're being selfish or irresponsible, or we're somehow doing the wrong thing here—I just find it interesting. I won't put any other label on it, but I just find it extremely interesting.


Of course, the strange overlap between the players and hardline owners like Jordan, as Henry Abbott pointed out earlier today, is that neither side wanted today's deal. The 50-50 deal David Stern considers to be ideal, they say, is too generous. An unnamed source told Chris Broussard that "at least 15 owners" were "praying that the players say no, because then they'll get the deal they want." Stern himself has warned that the league's proposal will be much worse if this round of negotiations falls through.

The union, however, does have an unexpected ally in Bill Clinton. According to reporters in attendance for the press conference, the former president strolled through the lobby after the press conference had broken up, gave Fisher a hug, and told him, "Now you know how I felt all those years."


He also offered Fisher a copy of his new book, Back To Work.

NBA players: No deal [AP]
Some owners don't like 50-50 offer? [ESPN]
Hard-line owners sniffing victory [TrueHoop]