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SBD/June 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
David Stern Updating NBA Owners On CBA Talks As Lockout Looms
Published June 28, 2011
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).