NBA labor talks remain at a standstill after meetings last week yielded no movement by either side. Both players and owners say they are committed to their positions, putting the start of the season - if not the entire season - in jeopardy.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the NBA’s two-time scoring champion, has been lighting up summer-league basketball courts for the Goodman League and said he’s locked in to the talks, even if he can’t be present during the meetings.
“Everybody knows that all the top-tier guys in the league want to be a part of [the labor talks] and are very locked into what’s going on,” said Durant, a native of the District. “But just because of what we have going on as players throughout the summer, we can’t be in some of the meetings.”
Durant joined a host of other NBA stars, including John Wall (Washington), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Jeff Green (Boston) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte), in the Clash of the Superstars. The event, which benefited several local charities - among them the Calomiris and the National Capital YMCA’s, the Capital Elite Academy and the Sickle Cell Foundation at Children’s Hospital - was Saturday at Coolidge High School.
At halftime, Durant was awarded with a plaque for outstanding community service.
“It was all in fun,” Durant said. “Everything is for the kids.”
But thanks to the lockout, a high school or college gym is the only place fans will be able to see Durant, and all other NBA stars, for the foreseeable future.
“We all want to get a deal done,” Durant said. “We all want to start on time, but we have to stand up and fight for what’s right for us.
“I think we’re going to stand up and stick to what we want. I don’t think we’re going to give in to a deal just because we want the season to start. I know fans may not want to hear that, but it’s kind of tough to put [the players] in that position. But hopefully everything gets resolved soon so we wont have to worry about it.”
Durant added that he’s keeping a positive attitude and that the players trust the union leadership.
“I’m just trying to support [union president] Derek Fisher and [executive director] Billy Hunter and the players union and all those guys,” Durant said. “Fisher has been emailing everybody keeping in touch with everybody. I’ve been staying in the loop, even though I haven’t had a chance to go to the meetings because of the obligations I have in the summer.”
Durant has made very few changes to his normally busy summer schedule. He plans to play when the Goodman League heads to New York to play the Rucker League and to Philadelphia with the D.C.-Baltimore squad. But he said he’s not likely to play in the Goodman League in Indianapolis on Saturday, or with Impact Basketball in Las Vegas.
“I want to play badly, but I didn’t know the games would come up so quickly,” Durant said. “I wanted to play in Vegas. I’m kicking myself that I don’t get to play out there. I heard the games were good. Hopefully, they’ll extend the games a little bit.”
But despite his upbeat demeanor, Durant said he’s aware that the lockout could cost the league the season.
“If there’s not a season, we’re going to have to start making decisions as players as to what we’re going to do,” Durant said. “I know for myself, if we know there’s not going to be a season, I’m just going to keep working and keep playing and get ready for when the season does start.
“That’s a tough one to swallow, though,” Durant said, shaking is head, “the thought that we might not have a season.”