NBA Commissioner David Stern "remains a power, perhaps
the last powerful commissioner," according to Mark Heisler
of the L.A. TIMES, who writes that a lockout "will be a test
for him." Heisler: "Sources suggest that he's still riding
tall in the saddle, his owners falling in line behind him,
even if some don't like the idea" (L.A. TIMES, 6/30). Suns
President Jerry Colangelo: "I would say that the owners are
prepared to do what's necessary to correct the system
because the system doesn't work" (AZ REPUBLIC, 6/30).
DO OWNERS HAVE THE EDGE: In Denver, Mike Littwin calls
the lockout "a huge gamble" for Stern. Littwin: "Who will
blink? ... [H]ow many paychecks do the other
multimillionaires want to miss? And although the owners
don't want to lose any games, how important exactly are NBA
games in November? I give the owners the slight edge. ...
The NBA union is untested" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/30). In
Philadelphia, Rich Hofman writes that the NBA "has all the
leverage" and that the players "will be lucky to get out of
this thing with their union intact" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY
NEWS, 6/30). In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes that the
union "will fight to the bitter end. Or until their
membership starts missing [paychecks]" (TORONTO SUN, 6/30).
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter: "These guys will not submit,
surrender or cave in as they did, under past history, if
they faced losing a paycheck" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30). On
CBS SportsLine, Andy Jasner calls the players "flat-out
greedy" (CBS SportsLine, 6/30). But in Philadelphia, Mike
Bruton: "If the NBA owners hadn't blinked three years ago
under the steely stare of a players' union mutiny, we
wouldn't be on the verge of a work stoppage for the coming
season" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 6/30). In N.Y., Ian O'Connor
predicts an agreement in late October as the "best-case
scenario," and calls the NBA's statement of unprofitablity a
"hard-to-believe claim" (DAILY NEWS, 6/30).
COULD PLAYERS BREAK? ESPN's David Aldridge reported
that while the players have saved some money from their
licensing pool, he believes it will be "very difficult ...
for players to withstand a very long and prolongated
lockout." Aldridge: "I'm sure that as we go into August and
maybe September and there hasn't been a deal done yet, the
pressure is going to really start to mount inside, from a
players' standpoint, to try and make a deal that works"
(ESPN, 6/30). But agent Bill Strickland said, "I get a
strong sense that the players have an absolute resolve about
not acting hastily this time" (STAR-LEDGER, 6/30). Agent
Arn Tellem said that most players "understand a lot is at
stake and that they have to show solidarity, from stars to
role players to guys at the end of the bench" (AP, 6/30).
Hunter: "They [the NBA] may have miscalculated this time.
If they realize the players are in for the long haul, then
they may become softer in their demands" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30).
Agent Marc Fleisher said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the
lockout went until October. Agent Joel Bell: "I expect this
to last for at least the summer" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 6/30).
TOUGH TALK: In NJ, Dave D'Alessandro writes the "gloves
have come off, the rhetoric is about to begin" (Newark STAR-
LEDGER, 6/30). Hunter: "[T]he league is profitable, the
commissioner and the deputy commissioner are the highest
paid in professional sports, the number of league employees
is growing and the average salary of coaches is higher than
that of the players. So why are things so bad?" (S.F.
CHRONICLE, 6/30). Stern: "What we're hearing is, 'Whatever
we have, we have, and anything else is the owners' problem.'
Well, that can't be" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/30). In N.Y.,
Kevin Kernan writes that fans "don't care" about basketball
in the summer, but the "problem is, they may not care come
November" (N.Y. POST, 6/30). A N.Y. TIMES editorial states
"this could be a confrontation in which no one blinks until
a large part of the season -- or even all of it -- has been
canceled" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30).