STERN PREVIEWS TODAY'S NEGOTIATING SESSION WITH REFS
NBA Commissioner David Stern was interviewed during halftime
of last night's TNT's Bulls-Magic game. Stern on the resumption
of negotiations with the locked-out referees today: "If my
presence is needed to show that we're serious, I'll be there
because we've been serious all through it. I'm worried that the
leadership of the referees union has never been serious and
they're taking some very serious risks with our game." Asked if
he is satisfied with the replacement refs: "It isn't as good as
it will be in three weeks when our development plan for putting a
third official on the floor is through. ... But is it as good as
the regular officials who have years and years of experience?
No. But you make do with what you have to make do." Asked if
the dispute could go on for three more weeks: "If our referees
decide to accept our proposal to make them the highest salaried
officials in sports, we can end it a lot sooner. If they don't,
then I'm afraid three weeks is going to seem like a small amount
of time because we could be in this for very much the long haul"
WHERE THEY STAND: The NBA increased its salary offer to the
regular refs by slightly more than 14% yesterday, which was
"promptly rejected" by the refs' union, according to this
morning's FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. The league's new offer would
give referees an annual raise of 8.5% for the next five years.
They are demanding 19-20% over three years (Dwain Price, FT.
WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/15).
MORE PREVIEWS: NBC's Steve Jones: "This smells to me as if
it's become a personal issue between negotiators" (Michael
Hiestand, USA TODAY, 11/15). In New York, Mitch Lawrence offers
this advice to the refs regarding Stern's involvement: "Watch
yourselves. The last time the NBA commissioner took an active
role in a labor dispute, players nearly agreed to a harder salary
cap and a luxury tax" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15). NBA VP of Legal
& Business Affairs Jeffrey Mishkin: "This is close to a last-
ditch effort" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 11/15). Mike Mathis,
the refs' chief negotiator: "We're $33,000 per team per year
apart. That tells you something about their philosophy. They're
talking about Alonzo Mourning getting $13 million a year"
(Michael Murphy, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/15). CNN's Fred Hickman
reports the two sides "are reportedly still time zones apart"
("Sports Tonight," CNN, 11/14).
SOLIDARITY ONLY GOES SO FAR: NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine
plans to talk to NBPA VP Charles Smith regarding further player
concerns over replacement refs. Because of a provision in their
CBA, the players are prevented from taking part in a work
stoppage or demonstrating in support of the locked-out refs (Mike
Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 11/15).
CORRECTION: A story in Monday's SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY
incorrectly characterized the position of NBPA VP Dikembe Mutumbo
on Gourdine's tenure. Mutumbo does not support the movement to
have agent Len Elmore become Exec Director. The story should
have stated Mutombo suspects that attorney Jeffrey Kessler is
behind the move. Mutombo fully supports Gourdine. THE DAILY
regrets any confusion.