SAM SMITH WRITES OF POSSIBLE LABOR WOES ON NBA HORIZON
From the NBA's annual meetings in Orlando, Sam Smith of
the CHICAGO TRIBUNE writes that "the rocket ship called the
NBA that soared above all sports in the '90s may have
reached its zenith, and the ride down may prove more heart-
stopping than imagined." Smith: "As league, team and
network TV officials gathered for a weekend of meetings, a
serious potential malfunction occupied their thoughts. ...
[T]he consensus ... is that a lockout or strike looms after
this season." NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "It's
clear in some respects our collective bargaining agreement
is not working so well." Smith reports that the labor
contract signed two years ago "has become an albatross" that
"must be removed." Also, while ten teams "lost money last
season ... as many as 15 could lose money" this year. One
team exec listed Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia,
Washington, Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, the Clippers,
Sacramento, Vancouver, San Antonio, Minnesota, Denver and
Dallas "as teams that have lost money or face potential
deficits." As the league and owners "dig in for what could
be a lengthy labor battle next fall," the players'
association is "building a strike fund." Led by newly
elected President Patrick Ewing, and his agent, David Falk,
the union "has been taken over by hard-line players and
attorneys who tried to scuttle" the '95 deal (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 9/19). On his "NBA Beat," ESPN's David Aldridge
reported that, "The revenge of the dissident agents is
complete." Falk, "who is among the most bitter opponents"
of the CBA, now has three clients, Ewing, Juwan Howard and
Dikembe Mutombo, on the NBPA Exec Committee (ESPN, 9/18).