HOUSTON—Former Rocket Shane Battier took to Twitter late Thursday, using some humor to voice his displeasure with the current NBA lockout situation.
"Dear @NBA, the lockout hasn’t even started and I already miss your loving touch. Come back, baby. Can we get some cocktails and talk thisout?" @ShaneBattier posted late Thursday night.
His light-hearted Tweets didn’t stop there.
"Let’s make this work, for the kids....they’re gonna blame themselves for Our problems. Cmon. Come back. I’ll tell you I love you more #NBA," @ShaneBattier posted just minutes later.
And just six hours later: "Dear @NBA, I hate public breakups. I’m sorry. Call me. Its never too late. Xoxo."
It's not known if the league will take issue and do anthing about Battier's comments.
Meanwhile, the NBA’s long-expected lockout puts the 2011-12 season in jeopardy and all league business on hold—starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday.
The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.
"I think we’re either going to not miss any games or we’re going to miss the whole season," said Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward Antawn Jamison, a rookie during the last NBA lockout.
But NBA players’ union chief Billy Hunter Hunter said it’s too early to be concerned about that.
"Obviously, the clock is now running with regard to whether or not there will or will be a loss of games," Hunter said. "I’m hoping that over the next month or so that there will be sort of a softening on their side and maybe we have to soften our position as well."
Hunter said he hopes the two sides will meet again in the next two weeks, after the union has looked at some additional documents it requested.
The players’ association seems unlikely, at least for now, to follow the NFLPA’s model by decertifying and taking the battle into the court system, instead choosing to continue negotiations. Hunter said last week he felt owners believe the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which is debating the legality of the NFL’s lockout, will uphold employers’ rights to impose lockouts.
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday and a final proposal from the players—which NBA leaders said would have raised average player salaries to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal—the sides could not close the enormous gulf between their positions.
"The problem is that there’s such a gap in terms of the numbers, where they are and where we are, and we just can’t find any way to bridge that gap," union chief Billy Hunter said.
Owners want to reduce the players’ guarantee of 57 percent of basketball revenue and weren’t moved by the players’ offer to drop it to 54.3 percent—though players said that would have cut their salaries by $500 million over five years.
They sparred over the league’s characterization of its "flex" salary cap proposal—players considered it a hard cap, which they oppose—and any chance of a last-minute deal was quickly lost Thursday when league officials said the union’s move was in the wrong direction financially.
"I don’t think we’re closer; in fact it worries me that we’re not closer. We have a huge philosophical divide," Stern said.
The NBA appeared headed this route from the start of negotiations.
Owners took a hard-line stance from the start, with their initial proposal in 2010 calling for a hard salary cap system, reducing contract lengths and eliminating contract guarantees, as well as reducing player salary costs by about $750 million annually. Though the proposal was withdrawn after a contentious meeting with players at the 2010 All-Star weekend, the league never moved from its wish list until recently, and Hunter said he believes negotiations never recovered from that rocky beginning.
The union had previously filed an unfair labor charge against the league with the National Labor Relations Board for unfair bargaining practices, complaining the NBA’s goal was to avoid meaningful negotiation until a lockout was in place.
"We’re going to stand up for what we have to do, no matter how long it’s going to take," Thunder star Kevin Durant told The Associated Press. "No matter how long the lockout’s going to take, we’re going to stand up. We’re not going to give in."
The Associated Press contributed to this report