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SBD/June 21, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NBA, Players Still Ways Apart Heading Into Crucial Bargaining Session
Published June 21, 2011
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger noted the "old guard of loyal ownership that used to stand in lockstep with Stern during labor talks is largely gone." Stern as a result "has turned these negotiations over to a younger, more demanding generation of owners who've experienced life-changing losses in their core businesses, watched franchise values rise at a slower pace than ever before and are now seeking what they perceive as a birthright to profitability on the backs of the players." The "hawkish crowd that was the driving force behind the owners' initial draconian" CBA proposal is "led by owners who bought their teams after the league's only work stoppage" in '98-99: Mark Cuban (Mavericks), Robert Sarver (Suns), Dan Gilbert (Cavaliers), Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), Clay Bennett (Thunder) and Ted Leonsis (Wizards). A source said, "Stern has been letting this cadre of owners lead the charge for months. At some point, he and the moderates will have to step up and say, 'We've tried your way for 21 months, and it hasn't worked. Now, you have to step aside and get a deal, because we're not going to damage what we've worked so hard to build.'" Berger noted "key owners who have not shown enough of their cards" include Jerry Reinsdorf (Bulls), Herb Simon (Pacers) and Michael Jordan (Bobcats) (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/20).
YOU GOT YOURSELF INTO THIS: In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt wrote despite strong playoff ratings, the NBA "could use all the help it could get right now" because those who tuned into the Mavericks-Heat Finals "were watching to make sure LeBron James went down." Hunt: "On that account I have zero sympathy for Commissioner David Stern, who was responsible for creating an anti-PR monster like James in the first place. It was Stern's decision long ago to market individual players over teams, so James' ESPN Egofest last summer that upstaged an entire league was the natural extension of a bad idea that has led to a gradual erosion of popularity for the NBA." Hunt added, "Still, I'm pulling for the NBA to dig itself out from under its self-inflicted financial and image problems. ... Without a relatively quick agreement that accounts for the health of the smaller markets, the NBA is headed for niche-sport status" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/19).