SBD/January 21, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Work Stoppage Seems Likely With Sides Still Far Apart

Hunter not optimistic as NBA enters its final months under current CBA
The prospect of the NBA and NBPA reaching a new CBA by the end of the current contract, June 30, "appears unlikely," according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. The league and union are scheduled to meet during All-Star weekend next month, but the "chasm between the sides is wide and deep as the league seeks to overhaul the economic model and the union prefers to have tweaks to it." Talk of a work stoppage "is predominant," although NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver earlier this month said that "it's not a given to occur." NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter "senses a heightened concern given his experience in agreements reached" in '99 and '05. The league contends that the "system is broken, predicting a loss" of about $350M this season, while the players believe that the "current CBA is working, pointing to increased income from TV revenue, ticket sales, merchandise and lower salaries." Hunter has "told players to brace for a lockout," and the "labor mood is far more solemn because of the drastic differences." Hunter said, "I figured by the All-Star break I'd see some indication as to whether or not they were serious about negotiating or whether they were just expecting capitulation" (USA TODAY, 1/21).

TALKING THINGS THROUGH: Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss, who serves on the NBA's Labor Committee, said there are "some economic issues that teams have to deal with and we have to deal with them on a league level." Buss added, "I'm optimistic because I do feel there are plenty of members of the committee, as well as the ownership groups, that don't want to see (a lockout). But we do need to address some of the economic issues so I'm hoping for the best." While Buss said the problems are "more serious than they were" when the NBA had a work stoppage during the '98-99 season, she added, "They are problems that can be addressed through collective bargaining, so that keeps me optimistic because we have players and owners that want the same thing and that's to play basketball" (WSJ.com, 1/19).
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