The continuing NBA lockout may be coming to a head this weekend as talks between representatives for the players and owners resume on Friday. Training camps around the league have been canceled as have some preseason games, and if talks were to break off this weekend with no resolution to the collective bargaining dispute, there are indications that the work stoppage could go well into the regular season.
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League commissioner David Stern told reporters Wednesday that the season hangs in the balance this weekend. "I'm focused on let's get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season, and that's what's at risk this weekend," he said.
People around the NBA as well as those who cover the teams believe this is likely rhetoric aimed at forcing a deal between the two sides in an attempt to avoid the loss of regular season games, but Stern has not been one to back down in negotiations and, if the players decided to hold firm, the season could be in jeopardy.
A protracted labor fight is something that would do far more damage to the players than the owners, particularly given the losses many owners claimed to have suffered over the past few years. While a wide range of NBA players from stars to scrubs have played in exhibition games and threatened to play in Europe, they realize the longer this goes on, the more they are likely to lose.
It's possible that, by Sunday, the players will realize they better take what they can and we could see an end to the lockout. If they don't, it could be a long, cold winter for everyone who works with, plays with, follows or cheers for the NBA.