SBD/September 1, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 63: Sides Will Continue Talking As Season Nears

NBA and NBPA reps met for six hours yesterday in N.Y., with NBA Commissioner David Stern "promising more 'meetings and meetings' through September to try to resolve the lockout that threatens the upcoming season," according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. Stern said there is "clearly enough time" to reach a new CBA in time for the '11-12 season to begin on time in November. Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said yesterday the union has not changed its "philosophical stance" on the issues, adding both sides are "feeling a sense of urgency" to strike a deal with training camps scheduled to open Oct. 4. Pugmire notes both sides "declined to give the date for the next negotiating session, but it's expected to be next week." One source said that even though the "public tone of the owners-players' separation has been described as wide, there's a genuine effort underway to bridge the gap." The NBA yesterday "dismissed as false a report that league owners would consider canceling some games if there were no deal in place" by the next BOG meeting on Sept. 15 (L.A. TIMES, 9/1). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt notes yesterday was "the third time key figures have met since the lockout began July 1." Stern, NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver and Spurs Owner Peter Holt, Chair of the league's Labor Committee, represented ownership at yesterday's meeting, while Fisher, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and NBPA attorney Ron Klempner appeared on behalf of the union. Both sides "declined to say if new proposals were exchanged." Fisher said, "We've just decided it's not in anyone's best interest to get into what actually happens in the meetings from this point on" (USA TODAY, 9/1). Silver said, "We discussed virtually every issue that's on the table, and there was an agreement that we needed to continue meeting and pick up the pace" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).

TIME TO GET SERIOUS: Hunter said, "I wouldn't say the fact that we've decided to meet again is a sign of progress. What I would suggest is that we need more meetings for that to happen" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/1). Lakers F Ron Artest said, "A week ago I expected us not to play until January (or) February, but now I have a good feeling we might have one on time. It seems like we might possibly have a season. I'm hearing progress in these last couple days. I haven't heard this all summer. I've heard people not even talking, going to meetings, showing up. But now I'm hearing some very good things and I'm very excited" (ESPNLA.com, 8/31). But Heat F and NBPA Secretary-Treasurer James Jones yesterday said, "We're polar opposites right now. Unless something serious happens, I expect for us to miss some time" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/1). SI.com's Chris Mannix wrote, "If the NBA and the union agreed on one thing Wednesday, it was this: The p.r. war has to stop." Stern, Silver and Fisher indicated that the "days of negotiating through the media are over." Mannix: "Fine. But on several occasions, three of the most influential men involved in the negotiations were given opportunities to portray Wednesday's meeting in a positive light, to offer millions of fans the slightest glimmer of hope. Each time, they passed. Even with Stern, Silver and Fisher primarily using vague statements and speaking in cliches, it didn't take a genius to realize the league and the union are still nowhere" (SI.com, 8/31).

LEGALLY SPEAKING: SI.com's Sam Amick spoke with the NBPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler "on the strategy" of union decertification and antitrust litigation. Kessler, who was the NFLPA's attorney when that union decertified, said the NBPA has "not made any decision to exercise" a similar option. Kessler: "The option is available and it's something that they might consider in the future depending on the circumstances, or they might not. It will be a decision based on how things develop and what they conclude is in the best interests of the players at that time." But he added, "There are many things you gain by being a union that you lose making a decision not to be one. So this is not a flippant decision" (SI.com, 8/31).
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