SBD/17/Leagues Governing Bodies

REPORT HAS NBA & ITS PLAYERS IN SECRET MEETINGS

     The NBA and the NBPA have been negotiating "secretly for
nearly two weeks to try to reach an agreement by the start of the
regular season," according to a weekend report in the DALLAS
MORNING NEWS.  Key figures on both sides of the table confirmed
that talks resumed in late September.  The last meeting,
according to one official, was last Thursday.  Officials on both
sides "are reluctant to speak on the record for fear their
comments would harm negotiations."  NBA Commissioner David Stern
"has made it clear he believes the most efficient way to hammer
out a new collective bargaining agreement is to do so in
private."  Apparently, progress has been made.  One source: "If
things weren't going well, everyone would know by now.  You would
have had someone on one side or the other walk out, and talks
would have broken down.  That hasn't happened" (David Moore,
DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/15).
     WAS A LOCKOUT STERN'S STRATEGY?  In Boston, Will McDonough
reports that Stern "wanted to emulate" the NHL, "not even open
the season, until he was persuaded by the owners to go a
different route that could lead the NBA onto the street around
Thanksgiving.  The story goes that the NBA decided not to impose
a lockout until the US Court of Appeals rules shortly on whether
the salary cap and draft are in violation of anti-trust laws. ...
If the owners are upheld, they will continue to negotiate a new
deal because they will have the leverage.  If they lose, they
will close the league down and try to regain some of that lost
leverage."  McDonough notes "the betting" is that the league will
be upheld in court and the players will have to come to the
table, "or go the route of the NFL union, decertifying and taking
three years to battle through the courts to try to win like the
football players did" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/15).      PENNY-WISE,
DOLLAR-FOOLISH?  In Tampa, Bill Fay writes, "It's interesting
when NBA owners speak out indignantly against the outrageous
contract demands of agents and then turn around and meet those
demands.  Not all the way of course."  The Magic signed Anfernee
Hardaway for about $70M over 9 years -- it is believed to be the
"richest contract in the NBA."  Magic owner Rich DeVos had
"promised that he was going to 'hold the line' in these and all
future negotiations" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/16).
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