The NBA Players' Union came out smiling to their press conference.
They had us thinking we would like what we heard. We don't.
The 30 team representatives formally rejected a proposal from the NBA team owners that would see them pocket 50 percent of basketball-related income (BRI) and the end of this lockout, now into it's fifth month. The players said they could live with the cut, but not with the system coming with it.
Rather than negotiating further, which NBA Commissioner David Stern announced was off the table, the NBPA will file a disclaimer, immediately decertifying the union and dragging this 137-day lockout into the courts.
That decision will result in lengthy court case and counter-case, with the NBA having filed against this very scenario months ago. The players can now negotiate as individuals, suing the league for damages that could total $6 billion.
Understandably, these court cases take a long time to reach a verdict, and that means the one thing basketball fans don't want to hear: there will be no 2011-12 NBA season. The last time there was no season was 1946.
It comes down to the worst-case scenario for Stern. He has now presided over one labor dispute that resulted in a 50-game season in 1999-2000, and now he is about to preside over an entire winter without basketball. To think, all this was avoidable had the owners made just a handful of relatively minor concessions this past week.
Unfortunately for Billy Hunter, this is largely his fault. Negotiations were progressing nicely when he decided to walk out without consulting the membership. That decision triggered a series of tit-for-tat exchanges and started us down the slippery slope of public animosity between the two sides.
Now the NBA has lost its season, lost $2 billion and potentially up to $8 billion, lost all the goodwill it had generated over the last decade and has probably lost thousands of people their jobs in related industries such as restaurants, concessions stands and attendants.
A round of applause then, for David Stern, Adam Silver and the NBA owners, Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the NBA players.
Thanks a lot.