The AP reports:

derek fisher

NBA players will remain unified and calm in what could be a lengthy pursuit of a labor agreement, union president Derek Fisher vowed Thursday.

About 40 players got an update on collective bargaining talks from Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter in what Fisher described as “a very colorful and engaging meeting” at a casino. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith also spoke to the players, who were mostly in town to play in an Impact Basketball academy league.

“There is not the fracture and the separation amongst our group that in some ways has been reported,” said Fisher, the Los Angeles Lakers point guard. “We just want to continue to reiterate that point.”

The players echoed their leaders’ stance, promising they won’t allow the union to splinter when the players start missing paychecks in a few weeks. NBPA members have been educated for several years about the steps necessary to survive a long lockout, and Fisher said the union will continue to protect the rights of players who sign overseas this fall.

“I’ve never seen this union as strong as we are collectively right now,” said Boston Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal, among the few remaining players who participated in the 1998-99 labor dispute. “A lot of our young guys are wide-eyed when they see the numbers at first, but now they’re educated. We don’t need to make a temporary, emotional decision. We need to make a long-term decision for a bigger purpose.”