DOES NBA LABOR DISPUTE CONTINUE TO BE DOGGED BY "RHETORIC"?
"Posturing, diplomacy, rhetoric and misconceptions have
all dotted the line of negotiations between the NBA and the
Players Association since the league imposed a lockout on
July 1," according to Mike Kahn of CBS SportsLine. There is
"little doubt at the moment" that NBPA Exec Dir Billy
Hunter's "only task is to keep the players galvanized as
much as possible, despite saying, 'a hard cap is not
acceptable and not negotiable.'" Kahn: "There is more to it
than that. He was hired, said one NBA source, 'to kick [NBA
Commissioner David Stern's] butt, and unless he continues to
act that way, he'll be out of a job.' So Hunter marches
on." Stern: "Let's face it, this is different than any
other negotiation. They may feel they're giving something
back, but the players won't really understand this until
they miss a paycheck. Then it will be reality to them."
Kahn: "Call it idle rhetoric or posturing, there is a bottom
line here, and Stern, who has been negotiating for the NBA
for more than 20 years now, knows this time is different.
Billy is the Hunter and Stern is the hunted. Unless the
present course of action is re-examined by the players, the
real losers up front will be the fans and the players, with
the real future of the game itself somewhere in between.
The billionaire owners will feel the pain last. But we'd
better not say it too loudly, the players might hear it"
(Mike Kahn, CBS SportsLine, 8/19).
GOING ONE ON ONE: In the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, NBA
Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik and NBPA Counsel Jeffrey
Kessler are interviewed in a Q&A. Granik: "I think in
bargaining everybody is vulnerable. When we start missing
games and we're losing receipts and players are losing
salaries, ultimately, the economics have an impact."
Kessler: "I do not foresee any division arising between the
players" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/17 issue).
THE BIRD CAGE: USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance examines the
Larry Bird Exception, which is "a sacred cow" for the
players. But Nance writes, "in reality, only a handful of
players are beneficiaries of the Bird Exception each year."
Of the NBA's 325 free agents the previous two seasons,
"only" 33 have used the Bird rights to re-sign with their
teams. Nance: "The popular notion is the Bird Exception
only benefits the superstar players. That's not totally
accurate. But it does appear to benefit superstar players
to a greater degree" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 8/19).
CHARITY OF NIGHT: The NBA and NBPA agreed to cooperate
on the N.Y. All-Star Basketball Classic, the "seventh of
eight league-sanctioned charity games to be played during
the lockout." The game will be held September 9 at MSG and
benefit Wheelchair Charities (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).