To Marvin Williams, it was disorienting. To Spencer Hawes, it was boring. To Ramon Sessions, it was frustrating.
Each of these veteran Charlotte Hornets has experienced at least one extended lockout that cost the NBA months of games and players tens of millions in salary.
The NBA and the players association are on the verge of avoiding a work stoppage for at least the next six seasons.
The league and the players association are on the verge of avoiding a work stoppage for at least the next six seasons. The two sides have agreed on terms of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), subject to approval by players and team owners.
News spread Wednesday night of the tentative deal, as the Hornets were losing to the Wizards in Washington. While a deal wasn’t unexpected, based on media reports over the past two months, it came as a relief to 11-season veteran Williams.
Playing three games back-to-back-to-back (to make up for lost dates) was brutal! I’m so glad we’re not going through that again. Marvin Williams
“I tell the younger guys, the idea of a lockout with the season starting a little later sounds good until it really happens. We all love to play basketball for starters, and it’s scary when you don’t know when the season will actually start,” Williams said following practice Thursday.
“Everything is affected as far as your training and preparing for the season. Then playing three games back-to-back-to-back (to make up for lost dates) was brutal! I’m so glad we’re not going through that again.”
Williams said during the last lockout, in the fall of 2011, he convinced himself it was a good thing when he got to spend all of Thanksgiving with his family. Then the work stoppage dragged into December, and the situation became ever more disorienting.
Players couldn’t work out in team facilities or consult with team personnel. The hardest thing was not being able to work with athletic trainers if a player was rehabbing from an injury. Players who were about to become free agents tried to stay in shape, but worried about injuring themselves in the process without any contract protection.
Meanwhile, players were losing hundreds of thousands in guaranteed salary, just as the league was losing millions in revenue from lost games.
This time around, there was also a fresh spirit of collaboration with a new NBA commissioner in Adam Silver and a new union head in Michele Roberts.
But the worst of it, Williams said, was not knowing when, or even if, a compromise would be struck in time to save the season.
Hawes, the Hornets’ player association representative, buys Williams’ “disorienting” description. But to him, the primary feeling was boredom.
Summer became fall and all of his friends were pursuing careers. It was his time to return to the NBA routine, but there was no routine available.
“It was cool at first, getting to spend that time when usually you’re getting your mind and body to gear up,” Hawes said. “Then you realize how in tune everything is. When it gets colder you’re used to getting back to work. Boring!”
The business is in a much better place than it was last time around. When times are good, it makes things easier on both sides. Spencer Hawes
Hawes isn’t surprised the two sides were able to come to an agreement this time without any work stoppage. The NBA is in a new age of prosperity after signing nine-year national television deals with ESPN-ABC and Turner Sports worth a reported $24 million.
To not find a way to divide so massive a pie without interrupting a season would have been hard for the public to accept.
“The business is in a much better place than it was last time around. When times are good, it makes things easier on both sides to come in” and compromise, Hawes said.
There was also a fresh spirit of collaboration with a new commissioner in Adam Silver and a new union head in Michele Roberts.
“Adam was a lot more involved with the last lockout (as deputy commissioner) than people realized,” Hawes said. “Obviously, this was Michele’s first (CBA deal) and she’s shown a great ability to negotiate on our behalf and hit the ground running.”
Sessions, in his tenth NBA season, is just relieved there won’t be a shutdown following this season.
“It’s great. Just shows you where the game is at,” Sessions said. “A few years ago, (when the CBA was expiring) it was almost like one side against the other. We’re all in this together and the game is growing.
“I’m so glad this worked out.”