David Stern has predicted that if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Tuesday, games won't be played on Christmas. He is a combative and aggressive negotiator for the owners, who has laid out the NBA position publicly in an attempt to get fans angry at players for their large salaries. He knows these are tough economic times and the public has little sympathy for a battle that pits millionaires and billionaires.
The NFL was very shrewd in keeping a news blackout on their talks, as were the players. For a major economic dispute involving billions of dollars, there were very few statements made by the sides to publicly paint the players or owners as villains. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was intentionally very bland in his stance other than predicting a deal would be done.
The problem with demonizing the other side is that it does real damage to the brand of the sport. It breaks down the delicate bond between fans and sports. When the last major league baseball strike was done, fan loyalty was seriously impacted. Attendance dropped the next season, and it took the steroid (allegedly) fueled home run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to bring it back.
My book "Winning With Integrity" outlines how deadlock and conflict hardens positions and prevents a win-win result. It is the same impulse toward passionate self justification and vilification of the other side that leads to war, divorce and other dire consequences. It is necessary to put yourself in the other parties heart and mind and see the world the way they see it. It requires creative minds engaged in a process that will respect the other parties goals and priorities.