David Stern, Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher, Adam Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, union lawyers Ron Klempner and Jeffrey Kessler ... with various others dropping in from time to time, that crew of seven had met more than 40 times and for untold hours over the last two years. None of them had had good summers.
But all those hours in rented conference rooms, all those dishes of hotel mints, rows of water glasses and catered lunches had not been a total waste of time. They had led to some things. The league had dropped its insistence on a hard cap, for instance. The players had offered to hand over something close to a billion dollars in future earnings.
And more importantly, by last Tuesday, there was a deal in the air.