I challenge the Nuggets and Andre Miller to break the logjam and come to the table!
I am a mediator with over 26 years of experience, much of it conducting workplace mediations. I have sixteen years experience mediating for the U. S. Postal Service REDRESS program (mediating EEO cases between management and workers alleging discrimination in the workplace). I understand many, if not most, of the nuances surrounding employer-employee conflicts. I am also a 30-year season ticket holder for the Denver Nuggets professional basketball team. This means that I have been a devoted fan of that team even longer than I have been a mediator. Those two important parts of my life could now intersect, if the Nuggets are listening.
Andre Miller is a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, and he is not playing. Unlike the other two point guards under contact to the Nuggets (who are also not playing), he is not injured. Rather, he is in a prolonged argument with management. Like any skilled, long-term professional athlete, he wants to play, so much so that he publically confronted his coach, Brian Shaw, during a game early last month. Why? Because the coach made the decision to leave him on the bench for the entire game. Miller’s career is that of an iron man, playing through fatigue, injury and pain. In a visceral sense, he could not abide the decision to deny him his life’s blood – basketball.
Brian Shaw is a first-year head coach. He knows what it’s like to be a player and feel the drive to be on the court. However, he needs to be in command of his team and to be able to make the moves he feels necessary to give that team the greatest chance to succeed. If the team wins, or is at least entertaining and competitive, he succeeds. There is always pressure on the head coach – probably most of all on a first-year head coach.
The ownership of the team, spearheaded by Josh Kronke, has publically put its faith in Brian Shaw and his skills as a coach, a leader and a motivator of professional athletes. This faith was publically demonstrated when Shaw was brought in to replace the iconic George Karl. This was a controversial decision, but one that ownership has defended stalwartly. So, the general manager and owner are standing by Coach Shaw, and Andre Miller sits at home, perhaps watching his team fade (losing by an average of 27 points on its just-completed road trip) as injuries mount.
Both sides in this dispute have carefully considered reasons for their antagonistic positions. Each also has an emotional investment in being right. However, the ongoing situation is doing nothing for the interests of either side. Andre Miller is not playing. At present, and for the near future, the Nuggets have no true point guard to put on the court – and they are losing. Fans like me would like to see them win, and sooner is better than later.
I have a potential solution to this dilemma: Mediation. I am offering to be the neutral mediator between the two sides with the goal of helping the parties to resolve the conflict. As a fan, I want the Nuggets to succeed as a team. This could be by putting Andre Miller back on the court. It could be by resolving to find a fair trade for him. It could be by some other solution that might only come out of discussions between the two sides. As a mediator, I know that I cannot dictate the solution. The Nuggets management and Andre Miller have the potential to find that solution if they can only talk about the problem. I can help them talk. I’ve done it before with parties who were at least as polarized as Miller and the Nuggets management seem to be.
So, I challenge the Nuggets and Andre Miller to break the logjam and come to the table!
Good things can happen in mediation, but only if people are willing to walk through the door. If they decide to do that, I am here to give them the benefit of my experience as a workplace mediator. As a mediator, this would be a fun case to do. As a fan, I can do something to help Andre Miller and the Nuggets succeed.