PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge put on a sold-out charity basketball game Sunday night with the NBA’s tense labor situation as a backdrop.
A fan held a sign that said “Thanks LaMarcus” during the game that included Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Josh Howard of the Washington Wizards, Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford and several other players.
The event came a day after a marathon bargaining session between the league and the players union to resolve the labor dispute that has already resulted in the cancellation of the start of this season.
The league said early Sunday morning that it offered players up to 51 percent of basketball-related income, which the union disputes. Commissioner David Stern says the players have until Wednesday to accept the deal or it will drop to 47 percent.
Durant says the players feel they’ve been backed into a corner.
“No doubt, no doubt, they (the owners) are trying to use their best tactics to win this thing. But I think we’re all going to stand together,” he said. “I know the fans are getting upset about it. I’m getting a lot of hits on Twitter about what we should do. But we’re going to stick together. The owners are doing their best to make us look like the bad guy.”
Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes also said the players need to stand firm.
“It’s frustrating knowing that everything we’ve given to try to keep the game going, to try to help the game continue to thrive, it’s just never enough,” Hawes said. “At a certain point, we have to draw a line. Not just for us right now. It’s not if we miss five or 10 games now. It’s about the future players and the future of the game.”
There was talk Sunday that the players may look to decertify the union and take on the league in court, a battle that would take months.
Aldridge, the player representative on the Blazers, said he’ll be in New York on Tuesday for a meeting. He indicated that the players were not going to move impulsively toward decertification.
“It’s definitely something we’re going to talk about,” he said. “I think as time moves on and we look at more options, that could be something that we do.”
But Aldridge’s main goal on Sunday night was to have fun and raise money for charity.
One of the highlights of the game came when Nate Robinson, also of the Thunder, did “the Dougie” with a kid who was a performer during a break.
Absent was Blazers guard Brandon Roy, who Aldridge said had to attend to a family matter.