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Saturday, November 12, 2011
Locked-out players preach united front

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- Not surprisingly, the NBA players in town to play in the Josh Howard Celebrity All-Star Basketball Game stood together in their belief that if the owners' latest labor proposal is not palatable, they won't be afraid to walk away.

"I think so," New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack said. "If we were going to fold we would have folded a month or two ago."

Commissioner David Stern delivered a revised proposal to the union late Thursday night after two days of 12-hour meetings. The NBPA brass will meet with team player representatives Monday morning in New York to digest the deal and decide if it is worthy of taking back to the some 450 NBA players for a vote.

Kevin Durant, the biggest star at the game, said he doesn't believe the new proposal will meet the players' needs.

"From the vibe I'm getting, I don't think it's a deal we want," Durant said. "We can't take 50/50 and a bad system."

Since Stern offered the new deal, pessimism has seemed to be most prevalent among the players.

"We've given a lot," said Portland Trail Blazers star and player rep LaMarcus Aldridge, who grew up in nearby Seagoville before attending the University of Texas. "Both sides have to give now."

Aldridge will be in New York Monday morning along with Jason Terry, the Mavs' player rep who is coaching Howard's team in this charity event being held at the Cobb Athletic Complex in Fair Park. Terry was running late, but showed up just in time for player introductions.

On Friday, Terry also strongly stated that players will be ready to walk away from the proposal, knowing it could send this process into even murkier waters, including the owners reverting to a more punitive offer and the players taking the next step in a potential quest to decertify the union.

Other players, such as Washington Wizards guard John Wall, say they are trying to make arrangements to get to New York to hear the details for themselves. The owners' deal would get a 72-game season started on Dec. 15.

Overall, the players here were well-schooled in sticking to a uniform script, saying they will allow the 30 player reps to decide which direction they should go once briefed on the latest proposal.