SBD/Issue 28/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NBA On Verge Of New Agreement With Locked-Out Referees

Locked-Out NBA Referees Expected To Return
In Time For Start Of Regular Season Next Week
The NBA's locked-out referees are "on the verge of a return to work next week after an unexpected meeting" yesterday led by NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBRA Exec Dir Lamell McMorris, according to Stein & Sheridan of ESPN.com. Sources indicated that the refs are "scheduled to vote on the latest proposed agreement Friday after the sudden progress in negotiations, which comes weeks after both Stern and McMorris separately withdrew from the oft-contentious negotiations leading into the lockout." Sources said that the agreement reached in principle yesterday "has the support" of the NBRA Exec Board and is "expected to be ratified with scant resistance." Ratification then would be "followed by a weekend training camp for the refs to get them ready for the start of the regular season" next Tuesday. One source insisted it is "highly likely" the locked-out officials will return in time for opening night. Another source supported that assertion "as long as Friday's vote proceeds as expected." Stein & Sheridan note the developments are "likely to be widely applauded throughout the league, following the expected rash of complaints from coaches and players about how tightly games have been called in the preseason" with replacement officials (ESPN.com, 10/20). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes details of the new agreement are not yet available, but the two sides "have been wrestling with three major issues: severance, pension and a proposal to D-League referees for a small number of NBA games each season" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).

WELCOME BACK: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan yesterday said that he "doesn't fear the league's referees will have trouble being ready without an exhibition season of their own." Sloan: "They'll do fine. You're talking about guys that have been around and know how to officiate, so I don't think it will be a problem." Sloan this preseason has had "little negative to say about the NBA's replacement referees." Sloan: "It's like having rookies -- what do you expect them to do? Not make any mistakes? ... Some of these guys are going to be good officials, I think" (DESERET NEWS, 10/21). Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the locked-out officials returning, "I hope they're in shape. It takes a while for them to get their game back in order too. We always see them starting slow. ... But we'd be happy to see them back" (L.A. TIMES, 10/21). Spurs F Tim Duncan: "I'll be very happy to have them back, and I mean that from my heart." Spurs F Antonio McDyess added, "You don't appreciate what you've got until it's gone." Spurs G Roger Mason Jr.: "That's the best news I've heard today" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/21).

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