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STERN PREVIEWS TODAY'S NEGOTIATING SESSION WITH REFS
Published November 15, 1995
NBA Commissioner David Stern was interviewed during halftime of last night's TNT's Bulls-Magic game. Stern on the resumption of negotiations with the locked-out referees today: "If my presence is needed to show that we're serious, I'll be there because we've been serious all through it. I'm worried that the leadership of the referees union has never been serious and they're taking some very serious risks with our game." Asked if he is satisfied with the replacement refs: "It isn't as good as it will be in three weeks when our development plan for putting a third official on the floor is through. ... But is it as good as the regular officials who have years and years of experience? No. But you make do with what you have to make do." Asked if the dispute could go on for three more weeks: "If our referees decide to accept our proposal to make them the highest salaried officials in sports, we can end it a lot sooner. If they don't, then I'm afraid three weeks is going to seem like a small amount of time because we could be in this for very much the long haul" (TNT, 11/14). WHERE THEY STAND: The NBA increased its salary offer to the regular refs by slightly more than 14% yesterday, which was "promptly rejected" by the refs' union, according to this morning's FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. The league's new offer would give referees an annual raise of 8.5% for the next five years. They are demanding 19-20% over three years (Dwain Price, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/15). MORE PREVIEWS: NBC's Steve Jones: "This smells to me as if it's become a personal issue between negotiators" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 11/15). In New York, Mitch Lawrence offers this advice to the refs regarding Stern's involvement: "Watch yourselves. The last time the NBA commissioner took an active role in a labor dispute, players nearly agreed to a harder salary cap and a luxury tax" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15). NBA VP of Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey Mishkin: "This is close to a last- ditch effort" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 11/15). Mike Mathis, the refs' chief negotiator: "We're $33,000 per team per year apart. That tells you something about their philosophy. They're talking about Alonzo Mourning getting $13 million a year" (Michael Murphy, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/15). CNN's Fred Hickman reports the two sides "are reportedly still time zones apart" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 11/14). SOLIDARITY ONLY GOES SO FAR: NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine plans to talk to NBPA VP Charles Smith regarding further player concerns over replacement refs. Because of a provision in their CBA, the players are prevented from taking part in a work stoppage or demonstrating in support of the locked-out refs (Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 11/15). CORRECTION: A story in Monday's SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY incorrectly characterized the position of NBPA VP Dikembe Mutumbo on Gourdine's tenure. Mutumbo does not support the movement to have agent Len Elmore become Exec Director. The story should have stated Mutombo suspects that attorney Jeffrey Kessler is behind the move. Mutombo fully supports Gourdine. THE DAILY regrets any confusion.