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STERN CONTINUES TO BANG THE DRUM; FALK, JORDAN PROFILED
Published August 28, 1995
NBA Commissioner David Stern continued to take to the airwaves over the weekend, predicting that the union will not decertify, but promising that the season will not be played if it does. Stern, on NBC's halftime report during the Vikings-Chiefs game: "Somehow the lawyers for the players have misrepresented to them that a court is going to come in and intrude into our league and somehow set some playing rules that will get the season going. Courts don't do that" ("NFL on NBC," 8/26). Stern to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE: "The vast majority [of NBPA membership] is going to vote yes for the union and the 1995 season. Jeffrey Kessler and Gene Upshaw are going to be rejected for what they are -- outsiders who do not have the best interest of basketball in mind. ... Our belief is that, if we get the players out to vote, the deal will be approved because the vast bulk of our players realize the league has made a conscious effort to bridge the gulf in labor negotiations" (Eddie Sefko, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27). Stern, on GEORGE MICHAEL'S SPORTS MACHINE: "The theory of the agents and their attorney is that if they threaten the NBA enough, the NBA will somehow cave and do whatever is necessary to start the season. We actually are worried about not starting the season and that's why we made the second deal. ... What we really do have here is agents and lawyers using our players and their $700 million in promised benefits and salaries as guinea pigs for very dubious legal theories. Our response is 'Hey, let's get back to work, vote yes for your union, vote yes for this deal, vote yes to start the '95-96 season on time, and vote yes for our fans. They've supported us and they shouldn't have any patience with us if we don't start the '95-96 season on time'" ("Sports Machine," 8/27). EQUAL TIME: Dissident attorney Jeffrey Kessler: "These players have decided, and this has been a player's decision, that they are going to vote for decertification, they are going to press this fight forward, and they believe that at the election that is going to be held on August 30th, and September 7th, that the union will be decertified and the player's will get their day in court" ("NFL on NBC," NBC, 8/26). Agent Mark Termini: "The deal clearly is a step backward for the players from where we were and from what was on the table a year or two ago. Does that mean there isn't a lot of money out there? No. But this deal has more constraints for the player. ... If players ratify this agreement, they are making a sacrifice to avoid the unknowns that would come with litigation." Agent Ron Grinker: "If what I'm hearing is accurate, this deal is in the best interest of basketball (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27). THE "LIGHTNING ROD": Craig Daniels profiles David Falk in today's TORONTO SUN. Daniels: "If there could be such a thing as a single man, a lightning rod, at the molten core of the NBA's labor dispute, David Falk has become that man. And equally true is a corollary: no matter the outcome of the vote on Wednesday and Sept. 7 -- the one that will ratify the new collective agreement or scuttle the union all together -- the NBA labor dispute has finally shown Falk to be the most powerful man in professional basketball after NBA commissioner David Stern. If the union is decertified and the coming NBA season is brought to its knees, there are those around the league who suggest even that qualification may not be necessary." Falk: "If I wanted to win a popularity contest, I could have taken a very neutral role in this thing. I think a lot of people would think I was a great guy if I took a less active role in this process. (But) I think you have to make a personal decision: do you want to do the job your clients are hiring you and paying you substantial dollars to perform, in which case you may engender some animosity, or do you want to win a popularity contest?" (TORONTO SUN, 8/28). JORDAN, LABOR LEADER: In yesterday's PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Michael Sokolove profiled Michael Jordan's role as a "militant labor activist." Dissident media consultant Mark Moskovitz: "Michael understands the issues. He understands them as well as any agent, any of the lawyers --as well as David Stern." Sokolove: "Arguably, the other man most responsible for the league's growth, besides Jordan, is not a player, but the NBA commissioner, David Stern -- whose vision led to sports' first salary cap in 1984 and to the global marketing of the NBA. The current battle pits Jordan and Stern against each other, and not for the first time." Agent Keith Glass: "Something clearly p---ed Michael off. But I don't think it's part of any beef with Stern, nor do I think it's a question of just choosing one David (Falk or Stern) over the other." Sokolove: "The vote will break down on whom players choose to believe -- Stern or Kessler -- and which of their peers they want to follow. For both camps, the challenge is to use the pull of players such as Jordan without creating a backlash by leaving the impression that the stars are looking after their own interests" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/27). SENTINEL SAYS "EMBRACE THE AGREEMENT": From an editorial in today's ORLANDO SENTINEL: "Basketball players should not make the same mistake as their baseball colleagues and sour the support of fans. No matter how lucrative a contract players negotiate, there is no way for them to buy the fans' enthusiasm. ... The agreement before the players is far from shabby. It would almost double the average salary of $1.7 million from last season -- far from a hardship wage. The best thing players can do is to embrace the agreement" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/28). MAYBE THEY WENT TO DISNEY WORLD?: According to Tim Povtak, only three NBA players -- Greg Kite, Roy Hinson, and Geert Hammink -- turned-out for Saturday's NBPA regional meeting in Central FL (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/27).