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REPORT HAS NBA & ITS PLAYERS IN SECRET MEETINGS
Published October 17, 1994
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).