Here are the talkies from Friday's players meeting at the Beverly Hilton. I'm going to post some additional thoughts later, but for the time being, here is a quick rundown.
Washington Wizards big man JaVale McGee left the meeting early for unspecified reasons, but spoke with the media while waiting for his car to be delivered. Asked if the players were standing strong, McGee admitted not everyone is automatically inclined to fight to the bitterest of ends:
"There's definitely some guys in there saying that they're ready to fold. But the majority are ready to stand strong."
Predictably, McGee's words created a stir, and he later took to Twitter denying he made the statement. (As you'll plainly see, he did.) Although truth be told, what McGee said is neither surprising nor even particularly revealing. It's actually to be expected, since not every player has equal skin in this game. Some can afford -- whether monetarily, through stature, or because of superior talent -- to miss more games than others. This reality is something Derek Fisher didn't even attempt to deny. Considering there are only 30 owners, and they can't even agree on what they want, it would be exceptionally naive to presume all 400+ NBA players in mental lockstep.
What seemed to bother Fisher, Mo Evans and others wasn't so much McGee's opinion, but rather that he said it publicly and out of school. As Fisher dryly noted, "The person that spent the least amount of time in the room has no ability to make that statement." At the end of the day, "Fold-Gate" wasn't so much an indictment of the union's solidarity, but rather a reminder of how much both sides value staying on message during this public negotiation. Say what you will about David Stern, but the man is a master at such a task. Even if you think he's lying through his teeth, the man stays in his thematic lane like a man with his hands firmly at 10 and 2.
Evans also downplayed McGee's statements as the mindset of a young player too inexperienced to see the bigger picture. Once players of his ilk understand how a proposed "50/50" really affects you down the line, Evans noted, they usually echo the hard line stances of veteran star players like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. However, as I noted, it's also easier for those guys to sit tight, because they've already made so much money. Evans was quick to point out Kobe's willingness to offset that issue.
"Kobe's already made the statement in L.A. at the meeting where there was 75-80 guys that he would be willing to help guys. He would go play in charity games. He can command a higher salary. He's in more demand than some players. He said, 'I'd be willing, every other game or so, to take that money, put it into a pool, divide it up amongst guys and allow them to go out and earn some money."
While a plan like this can only sustain itself for so long before becoming unfeasible (or simply places excessively unfair demands on Kobe), The Mamba putting his money where his mouth is carries weight. Like I wrote in September, Bryant's generosity is a fantastic display of leadership during a very tenuous period.
Fisher's opening remarks to the media
Fisher, on the reaction from fans to the lockout
Some fiery words from Billy Hunter:
Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo, on the lockout: