A few minutes later, union president Derek Fisher stepped to the podium and called the NBA's story "a lie." National Basketball Players Association chief Billy Hunter said the owners entered Thursday's meeting with a "take-it-or-leave-it" offer: The owners were unwilling to continue negotiations unless the union accepted a 50-50 split in revenue.
The union said it proposed a "band" in which it could make no less than 50 percent of revenue, no more than 53 percent.
Union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler explained that he believes the owners came into Thursday's meeting with a "mandate" born during Wednesday night's Board of Governors meeting, a gathering of league owners.
"They were carrying out a mandate they were given," Kessler said. "This is a sad day for fans because someone in that Board of Governors meeting was sent to blow off the fans, blow off us."
Kessler said that very little negotiating actually took place on Thursday. Both Hunter and Kessler made it clear they believe all of this - the lockout, the canceled games, the hard-line negotiating - was planned: For years, the owners have intended to break the players' resolve and impose a hard-cap system similar to that in the NHL, they said.
Silver and San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt said they were fighting for the good of the game, that only widespread, systemic change could save the NBA product.
After nearly 30 hours of mediated bargaining and two days of a gag order, whatever progress was made was obliterated in one fiery hour of he-said, he-said.
Silver said the NBA would not yet officially cancel additional games, but that no further negotiating sessions had been scheduled. The league has already canceled the first two weeks of the regular season and stands to lose approximately $100 million a week.
"They made a slight move from 53 to 52.5 percent on BRI," Silver explained during his availability. "That's where we broke off: They made it clear that if our position was that we were unwilling to move beyond 50 percent there was nothing left to talk about."
The union disputes Silver's claim.
Hunter gave a play-by-play blow of what he says actually happened. The owners came into today's session with a precondition: accept a 50-50 split of revenue or the negotiations are over. Hunter said he asked the owners to "park" the revenue issue and instead negotiate the salary-cap issues, but the owners stood firm on their condition.
Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at email@example.com or @DeepSixer3 on Twitter. Read her blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer