SBD/Issue 14/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NBA Fines Ted Leonsis $100,000 For Hinting At Hard Salary Cap

Leonsis Claims A Hard Salary Cap
Is Coming To NBA In Latest CBA

NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said the league has fined Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis $100,000 for "unauthorized public comments" regarding CBA negotiations, according to the AP. Leonsis earlier in the day told a group of Northern Virginia business leaders that he "expects the NBA soon will have a hard salary cap similar to the NHL's model." Leonsis: "In a salary-cap era -- and soon a hard-salary cap in the NBA like it is in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, it's the small nuanced differences that matter." When asked after the speech to clarify his remarks, Leonsis "pulled back from the comment, saying he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing NBA labor negotiations." Stern last night before announcing the fine said, "We're negotiating and that was one of our negotiating points, but collective bargaining is a negotiating process, and that was not something that Ted was authorized to say and he will be dealt with for that lapse in judgment." Stern added, "There's a hard cap in the NFL, there's a hard cap in the NHL, and that was something that was part of our initial proposal. But we're open to a deal and it depends what the deal is" (AP, 9/29). In DC, Michael Lee notes Leonsis' comments "come at a sensitive time," with the NBA CBA set to expire June 30 and the "threat of a lockout looming." Owners met Monday in N.Y. after the NBA and NBPA had what they called a "cordial and constructive" meeting last week (WASHINGTON POST, 9/30).

JUST STATING THE OBVIOUS? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Leonsis "didn't say anything that everybody following this situation doesn't already expect for management to hold out for a hard cap." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted Leonsis "likes a hard cap in the NHL because it prevents teams from spending so much money that it hurts a small-market team, and he's a small market team in the NHL" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/29).

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