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Volume 24 No. 155
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     NBA Commissioner David Stern said yesterday that
"substantial progress" had been made toward a new CBA with NBA
players, "that the existing no-lockout, no-strike deal will
continue and that he is optimistic a new collective bargaining
agreement will be in place before the June 24 expansion draft or
at least before the June 28 college draft," according to Richard
Justice & Michael Wilbon in this morning's WASHINGTON POST.
Stern said that the NBA Board of Governors will hold a meeting
Tuesday in New York, adding:  "We wouldn't have the meeting if we
didn't think there was a deal to close out" (WASHINGTON POST,
6/15).  Stern said the league's threat of a lockout did not cause
both sides to return to the table, but admitted, "You need a
crisis or a boiling point in order to get the parties focused"
(David Moore, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/15).  NBPA President Buck
Williams:  "Everyone is committed to getting a new deal done.
You can feel that" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/15).  Stern
said that negotiations will continue "around the clock" (John
Jackson, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/15).
     AT THE HALF:  Stern was interviewed by NBC's Bob Costas
during halftime of last night's game.  Stern, on the talks:
"We've addressed a number of the key issues and we each know
where the other side is.  We think with continued negotiations we
can get to where we can make a deal."  Stern would not say what
the major issue the two sides are stuck on, but said of the
salary cap:  "The league does not need a hard cap, the league
needs to make sure that its teams are reasonably likely not to
not lose money -- to make a little.  The players, for their part,
want certain other guarantees.  I think both sides are indicating
their willingness to yield to make a deal."  Stern said the labor
problems in other sports did not serve as a "cautionary tale" to
jump start negotiations, adding:  "We're driven by our own
demons.  If you need some evidence of what happens, baseball and
hockey provide it.  But we don't point to them and say they did
something wrong."  Stern, asked about recent criticisms of the
league's drug policy, said that it "can always be improved, and
we and our players ... will improve it. ... We think we are
leaders in the field and want to retain our leadership there"
("NBA on NBC," 6/14).
     MEDIA REAX:  In L.A., Mark Heisler took Stern's answer on
"substantial progress" to mean that the hard vs. soft salary cap
issue "has been worked out" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15).  In New York,
Shaun Powell notes, "It marks the second time the sides averted a
work stoppage" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/15).  In Chicago, Sam Smith
opens, "Lockout?  What lockout?  Strike?  Who us.  And so much
for NBA labor strife" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/15).  In Southern CA,
Kelly Carter writes, "The NBA, which considers itself a model for
professional sports leagues, is once again showing why" (ORANGE