Yes, we know that every day is critical these days when it comes to NBA labor talks. Last week David Stern had a drop dead date that has since been extended. This week begins with the players mulling over what is supposed to be the last and best offer from the owners.
To date Kobe Bryant hasn’t exactly put himself into the labor fray. Proving just how crucial today is Bryant is in attendance as the players consider an offer that, if accepted, would call for a December start date to the season.
Now just because Kobe has publicly supported a 50-50 split doesn’t mean he will somehow get all of the players on board. Last week Derek Fisher said his union supports an even divide of basketball revenue but there is some rumbling of players who don’t agree with union stance. That decertification card is still very much in the deck.
What Kobe’s presence does indicate is that he’s ready to make his voice heard by the NBA masses. Until today Bryant was only in attendance for one of the negotiating sessions. Of course there isn’t too much he or many of the players can do during the actual bargaining.
These meetings between player reps are where the likes of Kobe can flex their influence.
It is easy for those of us on the outside to simply say “get a deal done”. There are many moving parts to any collective bargaining agreement. At stake is much more than the season. The future of pro hoops in this country is on the line also.
There is no way of knowing just where Bryant stands on all the key issues or how informed he is of them for that matter. What does matter is that he’s showing up in the clutch, as we’ve come to expect of Bryant.
Maybe this deal just needs a closer. That is a role Kobe has always been comfortable in. The next 48 hours will likely decide the fate of the season. You get the feeling that if Kobe has a heavy hand in these talks that we’ll have hoops in the coming month.