NEW YORK -- On one side of the room sat Larry Brown and his team of attorneys, looking to cash out the right way and walk off with the mother of all lump sums, a boatload of money bigger than any payment ever rendered to any coach in the history of professional sports.
On the other side sat James Dolan, along with his cadre of Cablevision attorneys and various other representatives of the New York Knicks, beseeching the man at the head of the table to grant them up to $53.5 million worth of slack.
In the position of power sat NBA commissioner David Stern, who played the role of arbitrator in the final episode of the marriage-turned-circus act-turned divorce between one Lawrence Harvey Brown and James L. Dolan.
League officials said this is the first instance of Stern serving as an arbitrator between a team and one of its former employees, noting that the 1995 tampering dispute between the Knicks and the Miami Heat regarding Pat Riley was one of the few comparable recent instances in which Stern served as judge and jury.
The hearing ran from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET Friday in a Manhattan boardroom, then was adjourned until Tuesday. Both sides had been preparing diligently and feverishly over the past several days, with depositions in the case tying up the time of Knicks executives all week. Among the witnesses Friday were Knicks president and coach Isiah Thomas, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Knicks assistant coach Dave Hanners and deposed Knicks vice president of public relations, Joe Favorito.
"I can't answer any questions," Dolan told reporters.
Brown declined to comment, and his agent Joe Glass yelled at reporters to "back off!" as Brown's team left the building.
Asked how the hearing had gone, Glass answered, "Is it raining outside?" Told it wasn't, Glass answered cryptically, "that means it's good."
As he was exiting the building for the night dressed in a tuxedo, Stern said it would be "up to the parties" whether Thomas would be required to attend Tuesday's hearing. If Thomas was forced to stay in New York, he would miss the first day of training camp.
Stern also said he would not issue a ruling until after attorneys submitted post-hearing legal briefs.