SBD/October 27, 2011/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NBA and NBPA are "pushing hard to reach the framework of an agreement to end the league-imposed lockout after moving closer to consensus on several important issues," according to league sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Negotiators "met for more than 15 hours," finishing past 3:00am ET this morning, and sources said that the talks on "system issues resulted in significant progress on one of the labor fight’s most vexing obstacles: the luxury tax teams would have to pay for going over the salary." Negotiations "will resume" today at 2:00pm. One source said, "They need (Thursday) to punch it over end line." Sources said that there was a "significant effort among the NBA’s owners to push hard to get a deal done with the players over the weekend." NBA Commissioner David Stern "wasn't happy with the implosion of talks that occurred with him home ill last Thursday." Stern: "I leave these guys alone for a little bit of time, and all hell breaks loose" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/27). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger notes after the marathon session, the two sides emerged to say that "progress had been made." Stern: "This has been a very arduous and difficult day, and productive. (Thursday) is going to be just as arduous and difficult, if not more so. We hope that it can be as productive." Stern made his comments after 4:00am in a conference room of the N.Y. hotel where the negotiations took place. The two sides will reconvene this afternoon, and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said that an "82-game season remains 'possible' if a deal were reached by Sunday or Monday." Berger notes while "progress was made on several system issues -- 'small moves,' according to one source -- the talks are back in the tenuous place where they’ve blown apart on several other occasions" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/27). In L.A., Mike Breshahan notes the reported progress on smaller issues lent "hope to the possibility of a big-picture resolution in the near future." Breshahan notes there was "little to no movement on how to divide basketball-related income," but "on the bright side, nobody was called a liar." Yesterday's session was "scaled down into a smaller group." Additionally, "optimism began to rise" yesterday when Heat F LeBron James, Knicks F Carmelo Anthony and Hornets G Chris Paul "pulled out of a planned six-game tour" (L.A. TIMES, 10/27).
OPTIMISM, FOR A CHANGE: In N.Y., Marc Berman notes the "second-longest negotiation during this labor war had its best day and Stern and Hunter seemed either happy or just punch drunk when they met the media." The "rhetoric was a 180-degree turn from Thursday's federal-mediation breakdown and Stern didn't once talk of cancelling more games this week" (N.Y. POST, 10/27). One source said during a break in the negotiations, "There’s a good exchange of ideas, and that’s a hell of a lot better than what we had last week" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/27). In DC, Michael Lee reports Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver "will talk with the league's labor relations committee on Thursday morning to discuss how much the owners would be willing to give the players moving forward." Lee notes Stern "smiled, joked and appeared in a more cheerful mood than he has after previous meetings," though he "remained cautiously optimistic" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/27). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the labor talks are “much closer than everybody is letting on.” Smith: "They’re further along then they have ever been in these talks.” He added there is a "lot of reason for optimism,” and a deal "could get done within a week.” Smith: “The reality is the luxury tax issue, the mid-level exception and BRI are the three major issues on the table. I think the luxury tax issue and the mid-level issue are solvable, pretty close to being resolved. The BRI is still the one elephant in the room that needs to be resolved” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 10/27). CBSSPORTS.com's Berger wrote, "The deal that has been there to make for weeks should -- and I stress the word should -- begin coming into focus." One source said, "We're inching closer to a deal." Another source said earlier this week that "51.5 percent is, in fact, the presumed landing spot for the players' share" of BRI. League execs, team officials and owners "participated in a video conference call lasting several hours Tuesday to discuss the latest proposals and how to redistribute revenue." One source on the call said there was "no consensus" but "a lot of ideas" remained on the table. Another source said that observers "will be 'pleasantly surprised' by the commitment big-market owners are willing to make to revenue sharing" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/26). Stern said, "I have a pretty good idea of what they’d like, and we’re trying very hard to get them what they’d like. We’re trying to apply a tourniquet and move forward. That has always been our goal." But NBPA President and Lakers G Derek Fisher, when asked if there was "a meeting of the minds," said, "I think that’s a little bit of a reach" (SHERIDANHOOPS.com, 10/27).
MEET THE PLAYERS: One source said that the sides "had 'moved closer' on most of the system issues, but cautioned that an agreement was not in hand." In N.Y., Howard Beck reports the parties "did not discuss the division of revenue, which remains just as critical as the system issues." The NBA was represented at the negotiations by Stern, Silver, NBA Exec VP & General Counsel Rick Buchanan, NBA Senior VP & Deputy General Counsel Dan Rube, Spurs Owner & NBA Labor Relations Committee Chair Peter Holt, Knicks Owner James Dolan and T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor. Hunter, Fisher, Wizards F and NBPA VP Maurice Evans, NBPA outside counsel Ron Klempner and economic consultant Kevin Murphy appeared on behalf of the union. NBPA outside counsel and lead negotiator Jeffrey Kessler "was absent because of a prior commitment" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/27).
Stern still feels that an 82-game schedule
can be played if deal is reached in time
THOUGHTS FROM PAST AND PRESENT: Mavericks C Tyson Chandler said, "I really feel it’s up to the owners at this point. ... Honestly, I feel like it’s between them. Different owners want different things. Personally, I believe that within the ranks they have differing opinions, but have to be as one during negotiations" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/26). Bulls G Derrick Rose said, "I wish it was back like in the old days where there wasn't a cap. Back in the day, they were giving guys coming out of college multimillion-dollar contracts, so why stop it now? The game is growing" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/27). In Memphis, Ronald Tillery notes during the NBA's '98-99 work stoppage, the players had "unification that they believe will be a slam dunk with players today." Former NBAer Damon Stoudamire said, "I'm not saying it was easy. But getting a good deal was important. I went from making $1.7 million to (earning) $11 million." Former NBAer Elliot Perry "pointed toward a system that allowed him to go from earning $260,000 to $2 million." He said, "If we would have been in a hard-cap system I don't think I could've done that. Having said that ... there is a glitch in the system today." Stoudamire said, "I don't think the players can settle for less right now. They have to stay unified. If you don't get what you want then what did you lose games for? What did you fight for? It's getting to the point of no return" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 10/27). Former NBAer Paul Shirley in an op-ed for the WALL STREET JOURNAL writes, "The idea that NBA players are better prepared this time around is, for the most part, poppycock." Shirley notes when the lockout ends, it will "probably be for the same reason as the last one: On average, NBA players are not particularly good with money, and NBA owners know this." He adds, "The trait that causes most NBA players to burn through their savings is the same trait that allows them to become NBA players in the first place: an almost unlimited capacity for irrational behavior. … The NBA lockout will end because … the owners will remain rational. They will turn the screws on those NBA players, not because they think the players are stupid, but because they know the players are irrational actors" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/27).
Heat F LeBron James, Knicks F Carmelo Anthony and Hornets F Chris Paul have "suddenly pulled out of a planned six-game tour that was supposed to start this weekend in Puerto Rico and then go international," according to Mike Breshahan of the L.A. TIMES. Other stars such as Lakers F Kobe Bryant, Magic C Dwight Howard, Heat G Dwyane Wade, Clippers F Blake Griffin and Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire are still committed to the World All-Star Classic. However, the tour was "apparently reduced to Sunday's game in San Juan, with dates in London, Macao and Australia to be added if the first stop went well" (L.A. TIMES, 10/27). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman cites a source as saying that James "never committed to the tour and added that James is not participating, 'due to previous commitments.'" Ticket sales begin today in Puerto Rico, with a "seating chart showing tickets priced from $50 to $450" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/27). In DC, Michael Lee noted the global tour "took a hit this week," when James, Anthony, Paul and Bulls G Derrick Rose "chose to back out, citing prior commitments." But tour organizers said yesterday that Mavericks F Tyson Chandler, Celtics G Rajon Rondo, Heat F Chris Bosh, Celtics F Kevin Garnett, T'Wolves F Kevin Love and Bulls F Carlos Boozer "have contracted agreements," along with Bryant, Howard, Wade, Stoudemire, Griffin and Thunder F Kevin Durant (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/26).
SHOULD THE SHOW STILL GO ON? In Cleveland, Bud Shaw writes, "Ask yourself one question about this World Tour: Does this sound like a good idea? Right now? I mean, why not stop off in France after London and dedicate an exhibition to the memory of Marie Antoinette?" Reports indicate that players "will receive salaries ranging from six figures to $1 million." Shaw: "Fellas, stay home. Home is where the fans and jilted arena workers are. Visit America first. Announce a tour of NBA cities. Rent a place to play close to the NBA arena in each city" (CLEVELAND.com, 10/27). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojarowski wrote on Twitter, "Tour TV distributor had been in talks with Fox, CBS and Comcast Regionals - non-NBA rights holders - but no U.S. deal, sources say" (TWITTER.com, 10/27).
SUPERMAN SAYS: In Orlando, Josh Robbins reports Howard has "made it official: After he's done barnstorming in exhibitions across the globe, he'll host a benefit game between current and former Orlando Magic players on Nov. 13 at UCF Arena." Howard's D12 Foundation yesterday "finalized an agreement with the company that manages" the arena. The venue "can seat 10,000 people" for UCF basketball games. Meanwhile, Robbins noted because of its "lease agreement with the team, the city is guaranteed to receive a total of $2.8 million from the Magic even if no games are played" this season. Still, the city "would miss out on the additional revenue that it typically receives on game nights." City records indicate that, "on average, each regular-season game last season generated $33,273 for the city in facility fees through ticket sales" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 10/27).
MLB officials yesterday announced the postponement of World Series Game Six at 2:21pm CT citing “the desire to play a game of this magnitude without interruption, and an outlook with better conditions over the next two nights,” according to Brad Townsend of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The postponement was nearly “five hours before the scheduled first pitch.” MLB Exec VP/Operations Joe Torre during a news conference at Busch Stadium said that the decision “was made early to give fans time to make alternate plans for Game 6 and, potentially, Game 7.” Townsend notes a “steady rain began about 6:30 p.m., and the temperature dropped to the low 50s” in St. Louis, and “intermittent showers continued throughout the evening” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/27). Torre said, "You get to Game 6 of the World Series, and you want to guard -- as long as you have a forecast that we're expecting clear weather tomorrow, and if necessary the next day, I think that was more of a decision-maker than anything else, just the fact that we're anticipating rain during the game." The National Weather Service reported today “will be a drier day.” In St. Louis, Rick Hummel noted it “should be cloudy early Thursday morning, then clearing with a high in the mid 50s.” Tonight will be “mostly clear with a low in the mid 30s” (STLTODAY.com, 10/26). The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant wrote on his Twitter feed, "Tonight: Was raining - not pouring - and chilly. But you can't make decision in hindsight. MLB did best to preserve WS integrity." ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote, "Joe Torre made right call in ppd game in respect to new rules of playing WS games to their conclusion."
SMART CHOICE: On Long Island, Ken Davidoff writes under the header, “Tough Decision, But Right Call Was Made.” When MLB finds itself in a “no-win proposition when it comes to these scenarios, the game's powers seem to have settled on a new strategy: Better to look temporarily foolish than to have said foolishness preserved for history.” It was “better to postpone the game” in the early afternoon than to “hold a jewel event in lousy conditions, inviting a stoppage in play that would be discussed for the ages.” To take the “occasional early postponement in return for stopping in-game delays and suspensions” is a “trade any fan should accept” (NEWSDAY, 10/27). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote under the header, “MLB Made The Right Call On Postponement.” Durrett: “This isn't a regular season game or even a Division Series or Championship Series game. It's the World Series and a possible clinching game for the Texas Rangers.” The “last thing either team wants is a long delay or a game that starts and stops because of rain.” He added, “Don't take a chance, back the game up and let's play from start to finish on Thursday and see who wins” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/26). In San Diego, Tim Sullivan wrote baseball “can be played in the rain, and often at a high level, but doing so can make for a miserable night for the paying customers and wrenching moves by the managers.” If a game is “interrupted in progress, and the delay is for more than a few minutes, starting pitchers often make unscheduled exits that leave the game in lesser hands.” With a World Series “at stake, such competitive catastrophes should be avoided to the extent possible” (SIGNONSANDIEGO.com, 10/26). MLB.com’s Mike Bauman wrote MLB’s decision was a “victory for common sense.” Bauman: “Anybody who watched players trying to swim through Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia might have reached the same conclusion” (MLB.com, 10/26).
WHAT HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE? In N.Y., John Harper writes MLB “did the right thing by calling the game four hours ahead of time, avoiding a start-and-stop scenario that we’ve seen too often already during this postseason.” But it “continues to be a bad joke” that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “allows his sport’s championship to be influenced by the All-Star Game.” Harper: "As grueling as October has become with two rounds of playoffs preceding the World Series, the team with the best record that survives deserves more than ever to be rewarded with home-field advantage" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/27).
The AP reported signing bonuses for amateur draft picks is the "last major issue left in talks for baseball's new labor contract." Sources said that reps for players and owners "met Tuesday in New York." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "wants a system of fixed signing bonuses that tie the amount to when a prospect is drafted, known as slotting." Players have "traditionally said the signing bonuses should be the subject of negotiation." Sources said that while draft bonuses "are the last big issue, those provisions are tied to other parts of the agreement, such as the luxury tax, the reserve system and the minimum salary." The current CBA expires Dec. 11 (AP, 10/26).
HEADING DOWN UNDER: In Australia, Mark Hayes reports the women's Australian Open is "poised to take its place alongside world golf's great tournaments" after being "confirmed as the co-sanctioned season-opening event of the 2012 LPGA Tour." The "global nature of the tour will be reflected in what will doubtless be the deepest field ever to play in Australia." Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said that his organization "had a two-year deal with the LPGA with an option for another two years" (Melbourne HERALD SUN, 10/27). PRO GOLF TALK's Ryan Ballengee noted the "$1.1 million tournament will be played Feb. 9-12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club -- host to the 2011 Presidents Cup." The "144-player field will likely be populated by about 100 LPGA members, competing in the 72-hole event" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/26).
PLAYOFF PROBLEMS: In K.C., Charles Gooch notes for most lay fans, the aggregate two-game series is the "most confusing aspect" of the MLS playoffs. But Gooch writes, "My biggest issue is that 56% of the league qualify for the playoffs -- 10 of the 18 teams. That's just too many." More teams "create more chance of random occurrence." Gooch: "The playoffs shouldn't get easier and more random as they progress. It should be the opposite" (K.C. STAR, 10/27).
GOING GREEN: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted the sports industry -- "from teams to leagues to stadium and track operators -- is becoming more environmentally friendly." Team owners and event organizers are "generating new income from their cost-cutting measures by getting corporate partners, eager to align themselves with hometown teams going green, to sponsor projects like solar installations and recycling bins." MLB and other leagues have been "sharing best practices among teams and collecting statistics on energy and water use and recycling rates to create benchmarks." The NHL helps teams "send unused food at arenas to local soup kitchens, an effort that provided 165,000 meals last season and kept 105 tons of food out of landfills." The league has also "started buying credits that restore wetlands for every goal scored during the season" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).