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IN FRIENDLY GATHERING, NBA & UNION AGREE TO PLAY THE SEASON
Published October 28, 1994
Unlike MLB and the NHL, the NBA "displayed its viable working relationship/partnership with the players yesterday by reaching a temporary agreement to avoid a work stoppage." Both sides agreed to play the season under a no-lockout/no-strike pledge while negotiating a new CBA (Roger Brown, FT. WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM, 10/28). NBA Commissioner David Stern: "The 1994-95 season through and including our finals will be played in their entirety." NBPA Exec Dir Charles Grantham: "Our players are very concerned about the integrity of the game and a full and complete championship season" (Mult., 10/28). "In a far cry from the animosity that has pockmarked the hockey and baseball negotiations, both men took turns acting like best friends, then worthy adversaries" (Flip Bondy, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28). Hornets Player Rep Kenny Gatison: "It's just a truce. The issues aren't dead. This is just a breather" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/28). THE SPIN: Peter Vecsey writes, "Naturally, we knew all along basketball wouldn't triplicate the mistake committed by baseball and compounded by hockey. ... It was only a matter of time running out before they came to their dollar and senses" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/28). In New York, Ian O'Connor writes, "This was Stern's day, though, the day he went back to being the best in the world at running a game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28). ESPN's Bob Ley: "The initiative for the truce came from the consummate dealmaker, David Stern" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/27). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "The bottom line is the two sports that are playing both have salary caps" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/28). PLAYERS WANT TO PLAY? In L.A., Mark Heisler notes that "reports surfaced that several young stars," including Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, "had passed word they didn't want to go on strike." Leonard Armato, the agent for O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, "said he didn't see the need for a strike." Pacer center LaSalle Thompson: "Sam Mitchell and I were joking, that [if] the owners locked us out, we'd sue them to let us come back to work" (L.A. TIMES, 10/28). For the players, "giving up the right to strike was not conceding as much as the owners did by taking the no-lockout pledge" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/28). PARTS OF THE DEAL: Included was the inclusion of a "window of opportunity" for players under contract. Players now have until November 8 to renegotiate or extend their deals. After that date, no action can be taken for the rest of the season. Unsigned draft picks and free agents will have unlimited time to come to terms. Grantham did concede that he would have liked a longer "window of opportunity" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/28). Also, "as part of the peace accord," players Howard Eisley and David Wood allowed their suit against the league charging it maintains an "artificially" low cap to be postponed until next summer. Eisley agent Frank Catapano: "It's a good thing we filed the suit. I think it really bothered the NBA. I didn't think it would be that big a deal when we filed it, but the league must have been afraid they'd lose it, because they didn't want to go to court" (Steve Bulpett, BOSTON HERALD, 10/28). BACK TO THE TABLE: While yesterday's news assured the NBA of a full season, "it did not signify a closing of the gap between the two groups who are admittedly nowhere near an agreement" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/28). The salary cap "may create an insurmountable barrier" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 10/28). CNN's Mark Lorenz: "The two sides are still far apart on a new labor contract, but decided to put good faith above any bad feelings that might exist" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 10/27). The union have said it wants to abolish the cap, but several veteran players are open to a rookie cap. The owners not only want to keep the cap, but want to close the loopholes to make it a "hard" cap. The two sides are expected to re-divide the licensing pie. As of now, the players get $500,000 a year out from merchandising of the $2.5B in expected '94 sales (Mult.). THINKING AHEAD: "While basketball fans are cheering the decision by the league and its players to sidestep the labor muck that has mired baseball and hockey, this could mean there will still be no labor agreement in place by this time next year. And that raises the spectre of labor strife short-circuiting the inaugural season of Canada's [two expansion franchises]" (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 10/28).