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Published July 5, 1995
Attorneys for the NBA, the NBPA and a group of players unhappy with the terms of a proposed six-year CBA were to meet "informally" with an NLRB hearing officer today in New York, according to this morning's WASHINGTON POST. Mark Asher reports, "The three sides will attempt to agree to the ground rules for an anticipated union vote on whether to remove, or legally decertify, the [NBPA] as the players' collective bargaining representative." If the lawyers concur on ground rules, a subsequent NLRB hearing would be unnecessary. There are two key issues: 1) Whether enough "disgruntled players" have shown interest for the NLRB to schedule a vote, which is likely; and, 2) Who is eligible to vote -- with the league and dissenting players "as many as 200 players apart," according to sources. Another issue is method of voting -- with the league favoring an in-person secret ballot and the players seeking a mail-in vote. Daniel Silverman, NLRB regional director in New York, will issue a ruling in seven to 14 days, with a vote not expected until "at least early August" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/5). LOCKOUT! The NBA locked out its players, effective at 12:01am EDT on Saturday morning. REAX FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE -- In Atlanta, Jeffrey Denberg writes, "All winter, NBA management and players took pride in the fact that their games went on as scheduled while Major League Baseball and hockey lost significant parts of their seasons because of labor disputes" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/1). In Boston, Peter May writes that the NBA, "long regarded as the league that works, is now no different than its other labor-scarred sports brethren" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/1). In Charlotte, Hornets Player Rep Kenny Gattison blamed David Falk. Gattison: "(Falk) gets his big guns, his clients, and uses them as a springboard. Whether they want to believe it or not, David Falk used them" (Ron Green, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/1). In Dallas, David Moore writes, "A splintered union and mounting legal attacks have led NBA owners to lock their doors for the first time in the sport's history." NBPA President Buck Williams: "This seems to be the atmosphere of professional sports in the '90s. We just rejected a $5 billion agreement, and I think the fans will have a difficult time sympathizing or understanding how players reject that kind of money" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/1). In Houston, Jody Goldstein writes that the lockout "could help unite the players" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/1). In L.A., Mark Heisler notes, while a union official referred to the lockout as the NBA's "internal business," Heisler reported the "insurgents" reacted "angrily, suggesting counterattacks: players who are owed money over the summer suing to become free agents; players cutting a separate deal with corporations now sponsoring the NBA." As for a new proposal, Heisler notes, "Nothing can be done until the divided players are reunited, but early returns aren't promising" (L.A. TIMES, 7/1). In New York, Murray Chass referred to the NBA as "previously untarnished by the labor conflicts that have damaged all of the other professional sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/1). Thomas Hill wrote, "The NBA lost its virginity last night" (N.Y. POST, 7/1). In Philadelphia, Phil Jasner asks, "Is this any way for the league to be looking ahead to its 50th anniversary season?" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 7/1). In Phoenix, Lee Shappell writes, "This now could become a lengthy process and affect the start of the 195-96 season. The result could be no union and no collective bargaining" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/1). In Toronto, Neil Campbell noted that while the NBA will not lose games unless the stoppage drags past November 3, the lockout is still a "bitter blow, not only to the league's image but also to the preparations of the Canadian expansion teams" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/1). THE "DEAL" IS ON LIFE SUPPORT: NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine said that owners "were receptive" to player complaints on the luxury tax, adding: "I think it's safe to say the NBA's response was they were prepared to [eliminate the tax], but something else would have to change" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 7/1). In Washington, Mark Asher reported on what Gourdine told NBA Commissioner David Stern "what would constitute an acceptable deal": "Mainly, the union wants elimination of the luxury tax and to continue virtually all of the current salary cap system, which allows free agents to re- sign with their with their teams without any pay raise counted against the team's salary cap." Gourdine was hopeful that negotiators would reach a new deal before the August decertification vote (WASHINGTON POST, 7/1).