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NBA LABOR SITUATION DEFUSED; "SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS" CITED
Published June 15, 1995
NBA Commissioner David Stern said yesterday that "substantial progress" had been made toward a new CBA with NBA players, "that the existing no-lockout, no-strike deal will continue and that he is optimistic a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place before the June 24 expansion draft or at least before the June 28 college draft," according to Richard Justice & Michael Wilbon in this morning's WASHINGTON POST. Stern said that the NBA Board of Governors will hold a meeting Tuesday in New York, adding: "We wouldn't have the meeting if we didn't think there was a deal to close out" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15). Stern said the league's threat of a lockout did not cause both sides to return to the table, but admitted, "You need a crisis or a boiling point in order to get the parties focused" (David Moore, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/15). NBPA President Buck Williams: "Everyone is committed to getting a new deal done. You can feel that" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/15). Stern said that negotiations will continue "around the clock" (John Jackson, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/15). AT THE HALF: Stern was interviewed by NBC's Bob Costas during halftime of last night's game. Stern, on the talks: "We've addressed a number of the key issues and we each know where the other side is. We think with continued negotiations we can get to where we can make a deal." Stern would not say what the major issue the two sides are stuck on, but said of the salary cap: "The league does not need a hard cap, the league needs to make sure that its teams are reasonably likely not to not lose money -- to make a little. The players, for their part, want certain other guarantees. I think both sides are indicating their willingness to yield to make a deal." Stern said the labor problems in other sports did not serve as a "cautionary tale" to jump start negotiations, adding: "We're driven by our own demons. If you need some evidence of what happens, baseball and hockey provide it. But we don't point to them and say they did something wrong." Stern, asked about recent criticisms of the league's drug policy, said that it "can always be improved, and we and our players ... will improve it. ... We think we are leaders in the field and want to retain our leadership there" ("NBA on NBC," 6/14). MEDIA REAX: In L.A., Mark Heisler took Stern's answer on "substantial progress" to mean that the hard vs. soft salary cap issue "has been worked out" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). In New York, Shaun Powell notes, "It marks the second time the sides averted a work stoppage" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/15). In Chicago, Sam Smith opens, "Lockout? What lockout? Strike? Who us. And so much for NBA labor strife" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/15). In Southern CA, Kelly Carter writes, "The NBA, which considers itself a model for professional sports leagues, is once again showing why" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/15).