SBD/19/Leagues Governing Bodies

DOES NBA LABOR DISPUTE CONTINUE TO BE DOGGED BY "RHETORIC"?

          "Posturing, diplomacy, rhetoric and misconceptions have
     all dotted the line of negotiations between the NBA and the
     Players Association since the league imposed a lockout on
     July 1," according to Mike Kahn of CBS SportsLine.  There is
     "little doubt at the moment" that NBPA Exec Dir Billy
     Hunter's "only task is to keep the players galvanized as
     much as possible, despite saying, 'a hard cap is not
     acceptable and not negotiable.'"  Kahn: "There is more to it
     than that.  He was hired, said one NBA source, 'to kick [NBA
     Commissioner David Stern's] butt, and unless he continues to
     act that way, he'll be out of a job.'  So Hunter marches
     on."   Stern: "Let's face it, this is different than any
     other negotiation.  They may feel they're giving something
     back, but the players won't really understand this until
     they miss a paycheck.  Then it will be reality to them." 
     Kahn: "Call it idle rhetoric or posturing, there is a bottom
     line here, and Stern, who has been negotiating for the NBA
     for more than 20 years now, knows this time is different. 
     Billy is the Hunter and Stern is the hunted.  Unless the
     present course of action is re-examined by the players, the
     real losers up front will be the fans and the players, with
     the real future of the game itself somewhere in between. 
     The billionaire owners will feel the pain last.  But we'd
     better not say it too loudly, the players might hear it"
     (Mike Kahn, CBS SportsLine, 8/19).
          GOING ONE ON ONE: In the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, NBA
     Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik and NBPA Counsel Jeffrey
     Kessler are interviewed in a Q&A.  Granik: "I think in
     bargaining everybody is vulnerable.  When we start missing 
     games and we're losing receipts and players are losing
     salaries, ultimately, the economics have an impact." 
     Kessler: "I do not foresee any division arising between the
     players" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/17 issue). 
          THE BIRD CAGE: USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance examines the
     Larry Bird Exception, which is "a sacred cow" for the
     players.  But Nance writes, "in reality, only a handful of
     players are beneficiaries of the Bird Exception each year." 
     Of the NBA's 325 free agents the previous two seasons,
     "only" 33 have used the Bird rights to re-sign with their
     teams.  Nance: "The popular notion is the Bird Exception
     only benefits the superstar players.  That's not totally
     accurate.  But it does appear to benefit superstar players
     to a greater degree" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 8/19).
          CHARITY OF NIGHT: The NBA and NBPA agreed to cooperate
     on the N.Y. All-Star Basketball Classic, the "seventh of
     eight league-sanctioned charity games to be played during
     the lockout."  The game will be held September 9 at MSG and
     benefit Wheelchair Charities (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19). 

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