SBD/Issue 81/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NBA, Union See Little Progress In Talks Ahead Of All-Star Meeting

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Would Lose
Combined $30M Next Season In A Lockout

Six weeks ahead of a "crucial bargaining session" scheduled for NBA All-Star Weekend in L.A., there has been "precious little progress since players submitted their counterproposal to owners at the end of June," according to Ken Berger of If "cooler heads do not prevail, the owners will be so entrenched and determined to make a work stoppage pay off that they will push to cancel the entire season to cripple the National Basketball Players Association and implement the drastic changes they are seeking." A source said that if there is a lockout, "it will not simply be for show," rather it "will be Armageddon." The source: "After a year, the players will come back with $2.1 billion less in their pockets. Who has more leverage now?" Berger noted players such as Heat F LeBron James and G Dwyane Wade "would lose a combined $30 million next season in a lockout that wipes out the entire schedule." As for an owner losing $30M a year, he would be "happy to shut down the sport for a year -- and sources say there are at least seven or eight owners with that posture," and "probably more." The source added, "Once you go through the initial pain to shut it down, they're out for the year" (, 1/8).

GOOD FOR THE LEAGUE: FS FLORIDA's Bill Reiter wrote the jury is "still out on whether or not" James' "The Decision" special was a "wise one" for him. But it is "sure looking like it was a godsend for the NBA," as that "single act of arrogance has helped generate strong responses from fans nationwide, sell out arenas where the Heat play and put eyeballs on a league with a lot of things worth seeing this season." All year, the "hated Heat have driven interest." TV ratings for NBA games on ESPN and TNT are "up more than 30 percent this year compared with last year," and the Heat-Celtics season-opener was the "most-watched NBA regular-season game in cable television history at 7.35 million viewers." While these "recession-tainted times have pushed down attendance, the Heat have drawn everywhere they've gone, often with sellouts in markets simply savoring the windfall of the Heat's arrival." Reiter: "What's bad for LeBron's image has been a great look for the league" (, 1/8). Meanwhile, James "disagrees with NBA commissioner David Stern that interest in his free agency last summer brought more fans to the league." James said that there are "so many great players in the league that he didn't think he individually had anything to do with what Stern said were better TV ratings." James: "There's so many great players I don't think individually I had anything to do with it. Just trying to do my part" (AP, 1/7).

SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote it is time for the NBPA to "address the issue of gambling on planes, because for the second time in two years, players have clashed over unpaid debts, leading to disciplinary measures." Grizzlies G Tony Allen was "fined by the team Thursday for fighting with O.J. Mayo, who owed him money following a card game." The NBA "has allowed teams to make their own policies regarding gambling among players, but the NBPA has remained mum." Washburn: "While the union and the league are attempting to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, players are punching each other over gambling debts. Not a good look" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/9).

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