SBD/July 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 28: Sources Say NBA, NBPA Will Resume Talks Monday

NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and their top lieutenants "have agreed to resume collective bargaining discussions," according to sources cited by Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. The two sides will be "back at the bargaining table Monday," and the decision to meet face-to-face "is one of the first possible signs of progress after four weeks of stagnancy" since labor talks broke down hours before NBA owners instituted a lockout on July 1. Monday's meeting is "expected to include" NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, NBPA President Derek Fisher and Spurs Owner and Labor Relations Committee Chair Peter Holt, as well as Stern and Hunter. The meeting comes after a number of prominent players last Friday "met with Hunter and urged him to consider fast-tracking a move toward decertification." But Hunter "prefers to await a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board on an unfair bargaining practices complaint the union filed earlier this year" (ESPN.com, 7/27). Hunter after the last talks indicated that perhaps the sides "could start with something besides the finances when talks resumed, since they could never get past that hurdle and onto other things previously" (AP, 7/27).

BABY STEPS: CBSSPORTS.com's Ben Golliver wrote talking "is an important first step," but "compromising, ultimately, is what will prevent an extended work stoppage from disrupting, or potentially cancelling, the 2011-2012 NBA season" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/27). In N.Y, Mitch Lawrence writes, "At this stage, any kind of progress will be welcome. Even an agreement on the shape of the bargaining table to be used in negotiations." Lawrence adds the owners "probably can't wait to get to Nov. 15," when players are scheduled to begin receiving their paychecks. Owners "figure once the players' checks stop, the splintering in their ranks will start." The players "will start going their own way, leading to a settlement" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/28). ESPN.com's Roy Johnson writes, "The primary reason the dispute will not be easily or quickly resolved -- and why this negotiation in no way resembles the NFL's lockout -- is this: While Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith were essentially haggling over how to slice their league's well-publicized $9 billion pie, Stern and Hunter can't even agree on the pie" (ESPN.com, 7/28).

Hunter feels he will be judged based upon how
he handles NBA lockout
WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt profiles Hunter in a sports section cover story and notes the 28-day-old lockout "has not reached crisis proportions -- yet -- with the start of training camp still two months away." However, crisis "is a relative term, and no one knows that better than Hunter." Though "not as outspoken as" NHLPA Exec Dir and former MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, but "more experienced than DeMaurice Smith with the NFL players, Hunter makes his moves judiciously." Hunter, who this month is celebrating his 15th anniversary with the NBPA, said, "My reputation is on the line here. "I'm going to be judged based upon what we do or don't do. If we get the right deal, I get the benefit from that. If people think we got a bad deal, the buck stops with me" (USA TODAY, 7/28). GRANTLAND.com's Jonathan Abrams noted the "weight of 450 players rests on Hunter's shoulders," as does the "external pressure -- those from the players' families, their friends and agents, some who covet Hunter's job or think they can do it better and will be economically impacted once checks are missed." Hunter is "keenly aware of this gravity of the situation and feels better prepared after having already worked through one protracted lockout." Abrams added, "The outcome of these negotiations will not only write a defining chapter in both the legacies of Stern and Hunter, but mold the game's financial landscape for the next couple of decades." Hunter believes that "the outcome will affect the future of all professional sports' labor deals" (GRANTLAND.com, 7/27).

NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING
:  In Orlando, Shannon Owens wrote, "If you're like me, then maybe you've noticed the leaders in the labor negotiations have been eerily quiet." Owens: "Even more peculiar is how silent the NBA stars have been when it comes to fighting against hard salary caps in the 2011 NBA lockout. Stars like Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning were on the front lines for players during the 1998-99 lockout. But that clearly hasn't been the case this time around" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/27).
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