Just received this transcript of Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller sharing their thoughts about the lockout on NBA TV Tuesday night.
Miller basically credited Michael Jordan for being the hero of the 1998-99 lockout, which reduced the season to 50 games.
"In '98-'99, we were having a meeting in New York and all the players were supposed to be there," Miller said. "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. I have wished all along that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and others would step up."
The interview with Miller and Barkley is all pretty good, so here's the whole thing:
Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller on the Lockout:
Barkley on the 1998 lockout and today: Will it play out like it did in 1998?
"I do not see it playing out like it did in 1998. You can't compare the two. We have been in a recession for three years and I think we as players have to be realistic. These owners are hurting and the only thing that hasn't gone down in the last three years is players’ salaries and those are going to continue to escalate. We can't have all our stars playing in major markets. It's not fair to the game and not fair to the system. We have always had great players in smaller markets. And to be honest, it's always been about money. You can have a bad team in a small market but if you at least have one star, that team can make some money as they have something to sell to the public. But, if we don't have stars in these smaller markets, they are not going to survive. The owners have drawn a line in the sand. Unless they get 50/50, a hard salary cap or a better luxury tax, they are not going to play. Period."
Miller on the 1998 and 2011 lockouts:
"I agree with Chuck. If you listen to Billy Hunter's words when he said, "because of the economy, I don't think the league or the owners want to loose the season", well they (the owners) absolutely do want to lose the season. In 1998-99, we weren't in the middle of an economic downturn. We were coming off some of the biggest ratings ever with Michael Jordan retiring with the second of his three-peats. The fan base was there and the TV ratings were there in '98-'99. We are now just getting back our casual fans that Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan helped bring to the game. We are now just getting them back and that is because of the whole "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) that just started to bring back the casual fan to basketball. And I agree with Billy Hunter, that yes, the ratings were at an all-time high last year, but they just came back. We took a couple steps forward but we took three huge steps back with the potential of canceling all these games."
"We had a great year regardless of the circumstances and the LeBron thing, whether it was good or bad, it did take our ratings to a whole new level. But, I think for the overall picture of the NBA, we did take a few steps backwards. I read exactly what Commissioner Stern said last night. He named every small market team in the NBA and it's all about competitive balance. Commissioner Stern, whom I think is the best commissioner in sports and I think he has been for a long time, he's not going to let the NBA get like professional baseball where the big market teams are top heavy and all the stars have the big salaries and then you have 10-15 franchises that are dormant. He is not going to let that happen to the NBA. If they have a 50/50 split they can make money. If they have a hard cap, that can work. Or they are going to have a better revenue sharing system. But he is not going to let this thing become like pro baseball with teams that have $200 million payrolls with a bunch of stars. That's not going to happen in the NBA."
Miller and Barkley sharing their thoughts on the stars of today stepping up and being more supportive:
Miller: "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. I have wished all along that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and others would step up. Yeah, they came on two weeks ago, but from day one, if they would have been standing up saying, "No, we are not going to tolerate this," there would have been more strength in numbers and they should have been supporting Fisher all along for the 3-4 months as opposed to coming in as a home run hitter two weeks later. There's always strength in numbers, and the high-profile players needed to stand up like Michael Jordan did in '98-'99. Because of what he did, that's one of the reasons that everyone said the players came out on top in that lockout situation. I just don't like that today's star players are coming out as the home run hitters just two weeks before the September deadline."
"Why are all these stars that carry the league, why are they showing up in New York the week training camp is supposed to start trying to show power then? They should have been doing this a month ago. Let's be realistic. I know some things about the NBA. The NBA has been prepared to not play this season for two years. They (the owners) went through the LeBron thing (hype over where LeBron was going to go play) for the whole season, then the same thing with Chris Bosh and then Dwight Howard on going to L.A. Then it stated last year with talk of where Chris Paul would play and you could hear the NBA saying, "We've got to stop this." It's not fair to the fans in New Orleans next year and it won't be fair to fans in Orlando. The owners finally said, "Hey listen, if all these guys want to play in major cities, what can we do to stop it?" And, they are going to stop it one way or the other. I can promise that."
Barkley and Miller on what they would say to the league/union if they were in the room during the negotiations:
Barkley: "I would say to Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, please explain to me and the entire player's union what's wrong with 50/50? That's the only thing we have really heard over the past few days is the 50/50 thing. They will have to explain to me; the pros and cons of it. That's the first thing I would want to know."
Miller: "I would say gentleman, the owners and players are both at fault here. For the owners, stop overspending for mediocre talent. Maybe you need to evaluate your staff and hire better general managers and/or presidents that can assess your talent better. There's no way you should give Rashard Lewis $120 million, 30 year-old shooting guard Joe Johnson $130 million and Travis Outlaw $30 million for five years. Start looking at your GM’s because that's the reason we are in this mess in the first place because you can't assess talent well. For the players, start looking in the mirror because you guys are not as good as you think you are. You are resting on the laurels of the players that came before you when the puddin' was good and the banks were open. You've got to look at the situation we are all in now. This is an economic downturn and everyone is losing money - the owners and the players. You guys need to come together and get over this."
Miller and Barkley on their guess as to how many games will be played this year:
Barkley: "If the players don't agree to 50/50, they will not play at all this year."
Miller: "I think if the players blink, they might get a 50 game season. But I wouldn't be surprised if the whole season is wiped. But, I do believe the players will blink and come to an agreement. I say 50 games."