REFS UNION WON'T VOTE ON NBA PACKAGE; NO NEW TALKS SLATED
The NBA said it has reached its "negotiating limit" with its
locked-out referees and that they are prepared to play out the
regular season with replacements, according to the PHILADELPHIA
DAILY NEWS. NBA Senior VP/Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey
Mishkin made the remarks after announcing that the refs had
rejected a five-year offer that included "an initial salary
increase of 18.6% and a total of 60% in raises." The refs said
the proposal still would not make them the highest paid officials
in pro sports, and expressed displeasure the NBA "bypassed the
union leadership and sent copies of the deal to every member of
the staff, requesting that they vote on it" (Phil Jasner, PHILA.
DAILY NEWS, 11/21). CNN's Fred Hickman reported union leadership
"has refused to put the latest league proposal for a 10% salary
hike over the next five years to a vote." Hickman quoted NBA
Commissioner David Stern as saying the union "left us no choice
other than to continue our season with new officials who will
begin working 3-man crews December 4" ("Sports Tonight," 11/20).
Stern was "disappointed" the union chose to reject the deal
without having a vote of its membership. No new talks have been
scheduled (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/21).
THE WOMEN'S GAME: The U.S. Women's National Team is hoping
the "momentum from Atlanta will quickly lead to a new era" of
women's pro basketball, according to Mark Starr of NEWSWEEK.
Besides marketing the team prior to the Olympics, the NBA is
expected to help two new leagues scheduled to begin play by next
fall. NBA VP/Business Affairs Val Ackerman: "Our goal of making
basketball the most popular sport in the world is not limited to
the 320 best male players in the U.S." Champion Products VP Matt
Mirchin: "When the NBA puts its marketing muscle behind
something, it usually becomes quite successful." But Starr
writes, despite the corporate involvement, "women's basketball
doesn't yet measure up" to the men's game. In fact, Starr
believes women's basketball is "getting a boost from middle-aged
sportswriters nostalgic for the kind of hoops they grew up with"
(NEWSWEEK, 11/27 issue).