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NBA GETS RESPITE: BULLS CARRY THE TORCH FOR ONE MORE SERIES
Published June 1, 1998
The "breakup" of the Bulls "couldn't come at a worse time" for the NBA, according to Samuels & McCormick of NEWSWEEK, who write that while the league "may simply be reaching the natural end of a phenomenal growth spurt, it also faces real questions about keeping its fans when the Jordan era ends." An "implosion" of the league's "most popular team is just one signal that the NBA's golden age is in peril." The Bulls, "an unusually integrated team that sends off almost no racial vibes, have only enhanced the mostly African-American league's tremendous crossover appeal. The gap they'll leave behind is more generational than racial." But the "fears" of a league-wide decline "may be overdrawn," as attendance is "strong, and fat TV contracts are in place" (NEWSWEEK, 6/11 issue). LABOR: In Boston, Peter May quotes an NBA exec "who is privy" to negotiations with the union: "Things so far have been fine. There have been proposals exchanged, but there hasn't been anything nasty. You may not see a lockout. You may not see a normal summer, either, but there are ways to get around a lockout" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/31). But agent Bill Duffy is quoted as saying, "I just don't think there's any question that the lockout is going to go on for a long time. ... We may be willing to work with them on the rookie scale, but I don't know any agents who are going to accept a rigid cap" (Paul Buker, Portland OREGONIAN, 5/31). In Chicago, Sam Smith wrote of "negligible" progress between the sides and wrote that the NBA's TV partners "have been told to anticipate a long stoppage of play." He added that one proposal floated by the league had players dividing up a sum of money "that would almost double the salary cap" to around $44M, but that would "preclude paying huge salaries" to some stars (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/31). NBC analyst Isiah Thomas told USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance that he would be willing to mediate in the labor talks. Thomas: "I have some solutions to some of their problems because I've seen it from both sides of the table." NBA Commissioner David Stern: "Both sides can use all the help they can get" (USA TODAY, 6/1). LIGHTENING UP? In Miami, Steve Wyche reported that the league's Rules and Competition Committee is scheduled to discuss lockout rules Tuesday. Wyche: "League sources have said the NBA is expected to relax some of the bans issued in the 1995 lockout against team-player involvement in charity games and other interaction" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/31).