The Fix

Michael Jordan leading NBA owners’ hardline lockout stance?

AP

The NBA and its players are once again going back to the bargaining table this weekend to try to end the ongoing labor dispute, which has already claimed the month of November. The main sticking point seems to be the division of basketball-related income. The previous collective bargaining agreement called for a 57-43 split of the income in favor of the players; before talks broke down last week, the owners were said to be offering a 50-50 split, while the players wouldn’t go below 52.5 percent.

Curiously, the man reportedly leading the hardline stance of the NBA owners is also the only former player in their group, Michael Jordan, according to the New York Times:

The league is facing an equal threat from a group of 10 to 14 owners — led by Charlotte’s Michael Jordan — who are determined to cap the players at 50 percent, according to a person who has spoken with the owners. The hardliners are expected to reiterate that stance when all 29 owners meet Saturday morning in Manhattan, about six hours before the bargaining session.

That Jordan is leading a group of owners is ironic, because the last time the NBA and its players were at an impasse that caused the league to cancel games, the Chicago Bulls legend was on the side of the players. Despite supposedly having retired in the 1998 offseason, Reggie Miller said on television last month that Jordan was instrumental for ending the lockout in 1999:

“In ’98-’99, we were having a meeting in New York and all the players were supposed to be there. Michael Jordan supposedly had just retired. When we all got there, there was Michael Jordan getting ready to face off with some of the owners and the commissioner and he almost got into a shouting argument with the late, great Abe Pollin. Michael Jordan was going at Commissioner Stern and Pollin talking about if you keep writing these bad checks to these bad players maybe you need to give up ownership of your team. Michael Jordan was, and still is, the greatest basketball player ever and he was stepping up for the players.”

Of course, anyone who ever took more than a cursory look at Jordan’s career would know that his near-pathological competitiveness was what made him the G.O.A.T., and it’s no surprise at all that it manifests itself at the negotiating table. Too bad for the players though that the Jordan is on the other side now.

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