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The NBA BOG will convene today in Dallas with NBA Commissioner David Stern to update owners on collective bargaining talks as a lockout looms. The BOG meeting comes just two days before the current CBA between the league and the NBPA is set to expire at the end of the day Thursday. Labor talks between the league and the union could continue in N.Y. tomorrow or Thursday, though specifics have not been finalized. NBA owners also will be briefed in Dallas on plans to retool the league’s current revenue sharing structure. The effort to create a new revenue sharing plan is spearheaded by the league’s planning committee chaired by Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck. Other items on the agenda in Dallas include an overview of other league financial information (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Marc Berman notes the NBA and NBPA could hold "at least one more bargaining session" this week "with one last crack to avoid a work stoppage, but it seems hopeless." The players "have stepped up their rhetoric, with their bold 'Stand' T-shirts they donned Friday to the last negotiation." The "brashiness continued" yesterday when Thunder C and NBPA Exec Committee member Etan Thomas "wrote a scathing column for the influential NBA website, Hoopshype.com." Thomas said the NBA's original negotiating position is "more like a Christmas list to Santa Claus than the start of an actual negotiation." He added the '11-12 season is "in danger of being completely lost" and the players are "prepared for a lockout for whatever duration it takes in order to reach a deal that is fair" (N.Y. POST, 6/28).
CAN'T BUY A BUCKET: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger reported the NBA owners' planning committee was scheduled to hold a conference call yesterday "to tackle one of the most significant sticking points that have kept the league's imperiled labor negotiations from progressing toward any chance of a deal: revenue sharing." The Grousbeck-led committee "had been scheduled to meet last Friday in conjunction with a full-blown bargaining session with players, but the session was rescheduled." Berger noted the "status of owners' work on a revamped revenue sharing program -- and the sharing of that information with the National Basketball Players Association -- is viewed as paramount to any slim chances the two sides have of progressing" toward a new CBA by midnight Thursday (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/27). The AP's Brian Mahoney noted Stern previously has said that the CBA and revenue sharing "were on separate tracks, one needing to be completed before the other." Owners want to see "what their savings will look like from the players before they commit to how much additional money would go to each other, but players want to be assured revenue sharing won't be a tool to control salaries" (AP, 6/27).
WHERE THINGS STAND: In N.Y., Peter Vecsey writes, "The pressure is definitely on Stern to make the players 'give' and they definitely feel his fangs. In most negotiations one side opens up by insisting on the sun, the other side counters with an equally outer space offer, and they end up meeting near the moon." While the NBA "recently backed off a couple zany demands, nothing of consequence has happened to convince the union there's any middle ground to be found, maybe ever." Closing down the league is "not going to sweat the players or soften the stance of hardcore owners." Vecsey: "In fact, once they walk away in a huff, count on positions to remain intransigently unchanged come early October when players normally report to training camp . . . when the season usually starts several weeks later and, as paralleled, right into early January . . . and beyond" (N.Y. POST, 6/28). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes negotiations "seem to have been more civil than what we have seen recently from pro leagues that have gotten to this point, but that doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things." Wolstat: "Is a long lockout really necessary? No, both sides probably could be satisfied with a little give-and-take, but that doesn’t seem to be the goal here" (TORONTO SUN, 6/28). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen writes, "If Stern is to grow a lockout beard as he did in 1998, it could reach ZZ Top lengths by the time sides so far apart and deeply entrenched could come together" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/28).
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Marc Spears writes the NBA "can only hope its good health continues if it has to endure another lengthy lockout." The playoffs and Draft "boasted their highest television ratings in years," and "nearly all of the league’s major-market teams have returned to relevance." Furthermore, the NBA "has a group of young stars ... that figure to only grow in popularity as they get older." Suns F Grant Hill: "Both sides are very smart and understand sort of what’s at stake. But I’m confident they will figure out what’s best for the game" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/28). In California, Jeff Miller notes comparing the "ongoing NFL lockout to the impending NBA lockout isn't apples to oranges because apples and oranges both grow on trees." Miller: "This comparison is apples to thumbtacks, a navel orange to a naval officer." The NFL "isn't going anywhere," no matter how long the lockout continues, but the NBA is "more likely to be told by the public exactly where it can go." Miller: "Most fans will have patience for the NFL. Most fans will have no use for the NBA" (ORANGE COUNTY TIMES, 6/28).
The NFL and NFLPA "for the first time since these round of negotiations began ... have committed to 4 straight days" of CBA talks, according to a report on Twitter by ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen. The talks, which began today in Minneapolis with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, among others, will last through Friday. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports the meetings will have a "twist -- It'll be Goodell, Smith & their staffs. Not players & owners” (TWITTER.com, 6/28). NFL.com's Jason La Canfora cited sources as saying that people involved in the NFL labor negotiations traveled to Minnesota yesterday "not just to meet with their legal team" but also for another set of "secret talks" with the league. Minnesota is "home to Arthur Boylan, the U.S. magistrate judge assigned to run court-ordered mediation and who has been present for previous talks." Progress was "made in the four other sessions in four different locations ... but significant work must be done before the parties can strike a deal." Talks are "expected to continue into next month, and time is of the essence," since the Bears and Rams are "set to open training camp just three weeks from Friday." La Canfora noted the parties "broached the rookie pay system last week for the first time during these clandestine sessions, and it proved to be a difficult area to navigate." The numbers of a rookie pay scale "aren't the only issues." Among players' "concerns are finding a way to replace the effect" large rookie contracts "have on the veteran market and also get those high picks to free agency quicker" (NFL.com, 6/27). The AP's Barry Wilner reported a "small group of players met Monday with their attorneys in Minneapolis." A source said that the players' side "met on its own, without owners." Players "were told in conference calls that there will be more negotiations this week" (AP, 6/27).
SO LOST WITHOUT YOU: In K.C., Sam Mellinger, in an open letter to Goodell, Smith and "all the rest of you," wrote, "These insinuations and hints and anonymous sources saying you're close to ending this NFL lockout and making the season come off on time are cool to hear and all, but you better not be playing us. Get something done, anything. Finish it now, because this is real. These are our lives you're fooling with." Mellinger: "We've though about what it will be without the NFL on Sundays, and it's not pretty. ... Kansas City won't be a whole lot of fun this fall without the NFL" (K.C. STAR, 6/25). But in DC, Sally Jenkins writes the NFL's and NBA's "current labor strife is actually healthy, if it helps us break our crack-like addictions to the major professional sports leagues." Jenkins: "The best way to push back against abusive practices and work stoppages is to punish leagues in the pocketbook. Do something else with the money -- give it to a team that values its fans. Of the big four, baseball has done the best job of appreciating and remaining accessible to its constituency. On Saturday, you can see the Nationals play for $2" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28).
HAVE A QUESTION FOR US? Have a question about the status of the NFL’s labor talks? E-mail us your questions and we will have SportsBusiness Journal NFL writer Daniel Kaplan answer them in our NFL CBA mailbag.
Yani Tseng "has the golf world at her feet" after winning last weekend's Wegmans LPGA Championship by 10 shots, the 22-year-old's fourth major championship, yet "nobody knows who she is," according to Brian Murphy of YAHOO SPORTS. There was a time "when women's golf did not hurt for a superstar," thanks to Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. But with those two retired, "what will it take for Yani Tseng to break through into the mainstream consciousness?" That she is "not American plays a role in the American sports fan’s eye," but Tseng "has taken great strides to ingratiate herself into American culture." Golf fans and media have been "barking up the wrong tree for years," hoping that Michelle Wie will be a star on the course. Murphy: "It's time we all turned our golf attention to the real supernova. It's Yani Tseng" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/27). Tseng also won the LPGA's first major this year, and Sorenstam said, "She set the pace early in the year. She's the face of the LPGA" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/26). Golf Channel’s Erik Kuselias said, “I’d walk into Michael Whan’s office if I was his deputy or right-hand and I’d say, ‘Look, we can’t wait for Michelle Wie any longer, we can’t wait for anybody else any longer. ... We have to start really building her up as the thing in our sport to watch.'” Golf Channel’s Gary Williams: “You have to tell her story. You have to tell the story of how she moved into Annika Sorenstam’s house and she looked at that trophy case and said, ‘How long is it going to take me to fill this?’" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 6/28).
DOES SOME BLAME FALL ON LPGA? ESPN's Bomani Jones said the LPGA has "dropped the ball" when it comes to promoting Tseng. Jones: "I had never heard of her until 11:00 this morning. And you know what? It’s not my fault because I pay attention to this kind of stuff." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “I really think what happened to women’s golf is Annika Sorenstam was so big and dominated, and then she left. Then all the stories were about Michelle Wie and playing against men, and that didn’t work out. The rest of women’s golf kind of got left behind.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said when Pro Basketball HOFer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired, he "took the hook shot with him." Ryan: "I thought Annika Sorenstam took the LPGA with her" ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/27). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said Tseng's win "came as a stunner to many people … who had never heard of her.” Kornheiser asked, “Is Tseng’s anonymity her fault or the LPGA’s fault?” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said it is a "product of the situation they’re in,” with players like Sorenstam, Wie, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Lorena Ochoa either not playing well or out of the LPGA. Wilbon noted the LPGA plays just 13 events in the U.S., “so the anonymity here, I don’t think she’s anonymous in Asia.” Kornheiser said 22-year-old Rory McIlroy has won one major and “he’s celebrated all over the world." Kornheiser: "That’s the difference between men’s golf and women’s golf, in terms of being a draw. ... But this girl is chatty, she’s killing the ball, she’s very, very likable” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/27).
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is “taking a serious look” at adding a Saturday night/Sunday afternoon doubleheader at Iowa Speedway next season, according to Robin Miller of SPEEDTV.com. The series held the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at the track Saturday night, and Bernard said of the race, “It’s a sellout, the track does a helluva job promoting us in the Heartland and their fans really get it so why not go from 40,000 to 80,000?” Bernard added he spoke with Iowa Speedway President & CFO Jerry Jauron, who “loved the idea." Bernard: "Now I want to talk to our owners, partners and networks about it.” Miller reported "Bernard is considering multiple doubleheaders at tracks that want IndyCar like Iowa.” Bernard: “This could be the way we maintain our balance of oval and road races. I think it’s certainly worth taking a look at -- especially Iowa” (SPEEDTV.com, 6/27). Meanwhile, Jauron said that a “three-year extension is in the works” for IndyCar to remain at Iowa. Jauron: “We hope to announce shortly that IndyCar will be committed to racing here through 2014.” All previous deals between the speedway and IndyCar have been two-year commitments (DESMOINESREGISTER.com, 6/25).
MILES TO GO: In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann reported AB Promotions CEO Chris McGrath, whose company organized the Izod IndyCar Series race at the Milwaukee Mile on June 19, “wouldn’t discuss details of the event but did characterize losses as ‘significant.’” AB leased the track from the Wisconsin State Fair Park and “did not meet May deadlines for picking up its options for 2012 with the fair or IndyCar.” AB has “since signed a letter of intent, stating it would like to return for 2012,” but Kallmann noted that was apparently "little more than a procedural move; the most important factor is IndyCar also wanting to be back.” IndyCar has expressed a “strong desire” to return to Chicagoland Speedway, and has also shown “some interest” in a race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/25).