SBD/Issue 9/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Hunter Hopes To Develop Labor Momentum By NBA All-Star Game

Hunter Sets All-Star Weekend As
Benchmark For CBA Progress

NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter yesterday "after a three-hour bargaining session with NBA owners" set forth the "first unofficial negotiating deadline for making progress toward a new labor deal: All-Star weekend in Los Angeles," according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. Hunter said if the owners and players are not able to "develop some momentum" and "resolve some of the issues" by February, the union will "know what the bottom line's going to be." Hunter: "I would anticipate that by All-Star, we should know whether there's a likelihood of a deal." NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler characterized yesterday's meeting as "cordial and productive," while Hunter called the talks "amicable." But Berger noted there were "no significant breakthroughs on how to arrive at a new agreement that both sides would be willing to sign to forestall a work stoppage" after the '10-11 season. NBPA President and Lakers G Derek Fisher said that NBA players, unlike NFL players,  "have yet to take the step of collecting signatures to authorize decertification of the union." Fisher: "Decertification is an option that is available to us, but we're genuinely focused on the positive side of getting a deal done." Berger noted yesterday's bargaining session "did nothing to disrupt the constructive tone of the talks, which have progressed cordially after a contentious meeting at the most recent All-Star weekend in Dallas." But the owners and players "made little progress on ... major issues such as the players' share of revenue, the proposed imposition of a hard salary cap, and drastic reductions in maximum salaries and guaranteed deals." Hunter said that the next step is to "break down into smaller groups to begin tackling 'the smaller issues that are not quite as divisive'" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/22).

ELEVEN TEAMS AT MEETING: In N.Y., Jonathan Abrams noted yesterday's meeting marked the "final time that a contingent of players ... could be present before the sides meet" during the All-Star break. Eleven teams were represented at the talks on the ownership side, including Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert, Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss and Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck. Fisher said, "It's going to be a tougher process. But it's very clear in the room ... that both sides are going to be committed to that process. ... It's very apparent in the room. You can touch it, that both sides want to get something done" (NYTIMES.com, 9/22).

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