Beverly Hills: The head of the NBA players union denied there was any dissension in the ranks over the lockout, after one player said Friday some were discouraged by a lack of progress in the labor talks.
"The person that spent the least amount of time in the room has no ability to make that statement," Los Angeles Lakers star and union president Derek Fisher said.
Fisher was reacting to comments by the Washington Wizards' JaVale McGee, who said a few of the NBA stars were "ready to fold" after being locked out by the owners and seeing 100 regular season games cancelled by the league.
"There's definitely some guys in there saying that they're ready to fold, but the majority of guys are willing to stand strong," McGee told reporters after leaving a union meeting at the luxury Beverly Hills Hilton hotel.
Fisher disputed McGee's "fold" claim and said the 30 players who attended Friday's briefing were sticking together.
NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday reiterated the importance of next Tuesday's meetings with a federal mediator as a crucial moment in the pro basketball league's labor impasse, with perhaps more games at stake.
Speaking on US radio, Stern said his "gut" told him that if the league and players could not come to terms on Tuesday, December games could be lost.
The league has already cancelled the first two weeks of the season, which was to have started on November 1.
Owners and players are slated to meet with federal mediator George Cohen in New York on Tuesday, the day before two days of NBA board meetings.
"It's time to make the deal," Stern said. "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut - this is not in my official capacity of canceling games -- but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day."
Christmas has become a marquee day for the league. This year's three-game slate is supposed to feature an NBA finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks, the league's reigning champions, and the Miami Heat.
Union executive director Billy Hunter blasted Stern for saying the union's position would only get worse if a solution isn't found quickly.
"It can only get worse for both sides," Hunter said. "If somebody is pointing a gun at my head, I'm going to point one back at him. Teams are going to lose money. The pain is mutual."
Talks between players and owners have run aground over the structure of a salary cap system and the division of revenue.
The sides also have not figured out how to divide up $4 billion in annual basketball-related income. Players have proposed lowering their guaranteed cut of revenues from 57 percent to 53 percent, while owners are seeking 53 percent of revenue for themselves.