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SBD/October 26, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Six days after CBA negotiations "broke off in a nasty public dispute NBA owners and players will return to the bargaining table" today, according to sources cited by Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. League sources said that the two sides will meet "in a midtown Manhattan hotel." The resumption of talks "is the reason the league held off on the cancellation of at least two more weeks of the regular season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/26). In N.Y., Marc Berman reports today's meeting "will be small groups from each side." Sources said that the owners have "relaxed on their demand that negotiations only take place with preconditions that the union accept the 50-50 revenue split." Meanwhile, sources also said that the NLRB is "expected to make a decision about the players association’s July complaint regarding unfair bargaining practices by the owners within two weeks" (N.Y. POST, 10/26). Meanwhile, NBA Senior VP/Marketing Communications Mike Bass said NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter made "several misstatements" during his Monday appearance on ESPN.com's "The B.S. Report." Hunter on Monday indicated that Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban last week "proposed what he called a 'game changer' -- a plan to replace the salary cap with a heavy tax for teams that spent to a certain level." But Bass said yesterday, "On behalf of the league, Mark Cuban proposed adding a new salary cap exception, not eliminating the salary cap. It was the union that, in response, proposed eliminating the salary cap, a proposal that was even worse for the NBA than the union's prior proposals." One source said that Cuban's "actual proposal was much different than what Hunter suggested," and the source indicated that he "was surprised the union ignored it given that it would have met much of what players were seeking" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/26). ESPN DALLAS' Tim MacMahon wrote, "The NBA and its players association can't even agree on what Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed during a meeting between owners and players last week" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/25).
THE LITTLE GUYS: ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst wrote under the header, "How 'Small Market' Owners Took Control." Windhorst noted NBA Commissioner David Stern before training camp in '06 "received an uncomfortable letter" from eight owners who had "signed a petition that demanded Stern address the small market/big market financial disparity they felt was a serious and growing problem." The "authors of the letter" included current owners Paul Allen (Trail Blazers), Herb Simon (Pacers), Michael Heisley (Grizzlies), Glen Taylor (T'Wolves) and Herb Kohl (Bucks). Windhorst: "In essence, that letter is the root of the current lockout. And, it is turning out, perhaps a core reason the owners can’t make a deal with the players after more than two years of negotiations." League sources have said that the "sticking points with the players’ union do not solely break down market-size lines and that there’s unity among the owners on the need to win significant economic concessions from the players." But there "seems to be a difference between unity and harmony." One NBA source said, "That Lakers' TV deal scared the hell out of everybody. Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn’t fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they’re playing against." Windhorst noted the "faction of owners" who signed the '06 letter has "turned into a majority in 2011." The owners "are furious that the players are getting paid so much," and they are "furious that the NBA's current revenue sharing ($60 million a year) is worth less than half of a league like the NHL ($137 million)." Windhorst: "And they are trying to take advantage of throwing their new weight around. ... At the heart of this labor dispute is money, of course. But there’s that other classic element at play as well: power. And who has it among the ownership ranks is changing" (ESPN.com, 10/25).
Kohl has quietly been lobbying for better
revenue-sharing system in the NBA
SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE: ESPN N.Y.'s Ian O'Connor wrote the owners are "just along for the ride," and there is "nothing fair about awarding 50 percent of BRI to the people who amount to 100 percent of the reason there's any BRI in the first place." O'Connor: "People pay to watch world-class athletes do world-class things. So no, NBA players shouldn't settle for the 50-50 split." Hunter said yesterday, "What I'm always telling the players is that nobody comes to see an owner bounce or shoot a basketball. ... These are the best 450 players on the globe, and they're not replaceable. Without them, there is no game. So the players should always get more than a 50-50 split, even if it's only by 2 or 3 percent." Former MLBPA Exec Dir Marvin Miller said of the union making the NBA's requested concessions, "It's more than a compromise; it's a folding" (ESPNNY.com, 10/25). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith wrote the players have "hurt themselves, due to their inability to gauge the sensitivities of the viewing public." Smith: "It's too late now. The public is utterly disgusted. And guess who they're blaming? The players. ... The reality of a legitimate 'win' is no longer an option. The players have already lost in that department." The players should "yield," on the "condition that the owners yield to a 52-48 split or a 51-49 split, and possibly getting a portion of the luxury tax penalties due to be paid back to the league by penalized owners" (ESPNLA.com, 10/25).LET'S MAKE A DEAL: In San Antonio, Mike Monroe noted rumors "have surfaced that there have been informal conversations since the finger-pointing news conferences that followed Thursday’s sudden end to negotiations that had been led for three days" by Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service Dir George Cohen. Spurs F Matt Bonner said, "If there is a deal to be made, let's make it. What the hell is the problem?" Bonner added, "If you’re expecting the players to collapse, I don’t see that as probable at all. Social media has helped us stick together and stay on the same page. There’s other leagues. A lot of guys will play elsewhere. They should not expect the guys to cave, and that’s what scares me the most. Plus, everyone got their escrow check back. That helps us, too" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 10/25).
PHOENIX RISING: FOXSPORTS.com's Jason Whitlock writes, "Rather than accept and deal with their culpability for its financial mess and look within for solutions -- as its conservative philosophy dictates -- NBA ownership has simply proposed sticking its hands in the players' pockets for a seven-percent/$400-million kickback/bailout." Whitlock is "equally shocked" the NBPA "hasn't called the owners out for their blatant hypocrisy." Whitlock spoke with Suns G Steve Nash, a man who "desperately needs to get involved in this labor dispute before irreparable damage is done to a league that is on the cusp of a transcendent renaissance." Nash said, "I agree with you. I'm not so one-sided that I don't think there are ills within (the NBA business) model. But the majority of the things preventing this model from working are the owners policing themselves and not signing as many bad (player) contracts." Whitlock also spoke with Suns F Grant Hill, who said, "I would hope that the owners would be willing to do as much as they're asking the players. I would hope that we would all look within first for any solutions." Whitlock writes Nash and Hill's "voices need to be heard." The NBA's "elite, credible players have been too silent in explaining to the public the shakedown NBA ownership is attempting." Nash said, "There could be some truth to that. It's a tough situation. There are people in the players union who are very committed, capable people in our union have taken the reins. I didn't foresee that I would be needed. ... Maybe it was shortsighted for me not to get more involved." Hill said, "Yes, in hindsight maybe it probably was a mistake (to be uninvolved). ... I think at this point every player wishes he was at the negotiating table" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/26).
IS THERE TIME FOR A SEASON? In N.Y., Howard Beck writes the NBA schedule, "at least as it was presented in July, is already worthless." Sources said that "whenever the lockout is resolved, the NBA will build a new schedule from scratch, using all arena dates that are still reserved." Beck: "Thus, the decision to formally announce cancellations is an academic exercise, and perhaps a bit of political theater." Whatever arena dates the NBA "retains could eventually be used to construct a new schedule." But it will "look drastically different from what is on the books now, and probably without the preferred balance of games between the two conferences" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt writes for the NBA "to avoid missing its smorgasbord of enticing Christmas Day matchups, a deal would need to be in place by about Nov. 25." If the season "begins Dec. 1 and each team plays 16 games a month through April, an 80-game schedule is possible." If the season "started Jan. 1, a 64-game schedule is within reach" (USA TODAY, 10/26). The BOSTON HERALD's Bulpett notes it is "likely the regular season will stretch beyond its scheduled April 18 terminus" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/26).
WORLD TOUR: Sources reported that 18 NBA players "will embark on a six-game, two-week, four-continent tour that begins Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico." ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported terms and logistics of the World All-Star Classic "are now finalized and an official announcement will be made by the tour's organizers" today. Sources said that Lakers F Kobe Bryant, Magic C Dwight Howard, Heat G Dwyane Wade and Thunder F Kevin Durant "will headline the roster." The next two games will be on Nov. 1 and 3 at the O2 Arena in London. Game 4 "will be played Nov. 6 in Macau in the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Hotel, and the tour will close in Melbourne, Australia with games at Rod Laver Arena on Nov. 8 and 9." Each player "will receive a salary, ranging from six figures to" $1M and "many of the proceeds will go towards charity." Atlanta businessman Calvin Darden "put the tour together" (ESPN.com, 10/25).
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard's silence since the fatal accident that resulted in the death of driver Dan Wheldon at the Izod IndyCar World Championships "only intensified the scrutiny on his leadership of the open-wheel series,” but Bernard is “focused on moving forward and helping IndyCar through this dark period," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Bernard said, “The last week was probably the most horrific week of my life." He added that he “never once considered resigning but admits IndyCar is now ‘in crisis, and we have to get answers.’” Bernard: "You have to lead, and I know this is a time I have to make sure I am going to be very decisive, very articulate and be a leader. In tough times is where you build your character; it's not in good times." Fryer reported Bernard took Wheldon's death “extremely hard and essentially isolated himself in Las Vegas after the race.” Bernard: “I was numb. I didn't, I was, just numb." Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said, “It's been an unfair beating on Randy because nobody singlehandedly makes decisions. I just don't understand the criticism I'm seeing.” He added, “But there's no doubt Randy's got his hands full, and it's an ugly situation." Fryer noted Bernard, who just finished his second year with IndyCar, "was hired to revitalize the series despite no auto racing experience, and that's contributing to blaming Bernard for creating the circumstances that led to Wheldon's death.” He insists that he “did not sensationalize the inherent danger in auto racing.” Bernard: “Our storylines going to Las Vegas were first and foremost 'Come watch Will and Dario fight it out for the world championship.' The No. 2 storyline was Dan Wheldon competing for $5 million starting at the back. Our third storyline was Danica Patrick. ... Our fourth storyline was 34 cars in the race. I think none of those, looking back on it, had any type of connotation of any danger. If the race was tomorrow, it would still be the same storylines” (AP, 10/25).
Three members of Congress yesterday called “for a hearing on the delay in beginning testing for human growth hormone in the NFL,” according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The call by members of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, which “asks for a hearing to begin as soon as possible, figures to increase the pressure on both sides to end the impasse.” U.S. Reps Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) wrote in a letter, “This delay is a cause for concern. ... Committee hearings will allow us to learn about these issues, hearing from top scientists about the validity of HGH testing and from the NFL and the NFLPA about the extent of HGH use in the league and their plans for testing to eliminate such use.” The NFL yesterday said that a hearing “should not be necessary;” the union said that it “welcomed a hearing” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). A SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE editorial states, “Because of copycat HGH use by high school and college football players, this is a bigger public health issue than it might first seem. NFL players are influential role models. If Congress jumps into the fray, as it did with Major League Baseball and steroids, maybe common sense can prevail” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/26). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes under the header, “On HGH Testing Delay, NFL Players’ Union Coming Off As Self-Delusional And Obstructionist.” The NFLPA, which “has given in to the owners on too many other issues such as guaranteed salaries and shared revenues, is dragging its feet on this of all matters.” It is the “wrong time to get self-righteous about civil rights” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/26).
The UFL and Mark Cuban told a federal court this morning that they hope to work out their differences without any further input from the court. Cuban’s HDNet sued UFL Founder Bill Hambrecht in January for an unpaid $5M loan plus interest. Cuban loaned the UFL the money on April 7, 2010, in exchange for a 5% stake in the league. The money was due back on October 6, 2010. Hambrecht had secured the loan, so he is the target of the lawsuit. According to the filing today in a northern Texas federal court, the two sides have been working to resolve the dispute and the case could be dismissed within one year. “If the parties do not fully perform under the settlement agreement, a previously executed agreed judgment will be entered,” according to the document, called an “agreed motion to stay.” The stay motion does not describe what the judgment would be if the sides do not reach an agreement. The UFL has struggled financially, and has had trouble paying many vendors, players, and coaches. Nevertheless, the UFL said just this week following its third championship game it expects to play in '12. The loan paid 1% interest before default. But because the UFL defaulted, the rate rose to the Prime Rate, or the rate banks charge their most credit worthy customers, plus 3%. That would have raised the total interest rate to over 6%.