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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues and Governing Bodies

A “small group of NBA and players' union representatives are expected to gather for a Wednesday meeting in New York,” according to league sources cited by Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. League owners are scheduled to gather Sept. 15 at a BOG meeting “to establish how to move forward based on the tone of the negotiations.” The players have asked the NLRB “to consider a complaint that the owners haven't bargained in good faith, but there's no guarantee the NLRB will act soon on that matter” (, 8/29).’s Zach Lowe noted if the NLRB officials investigating the case “conclude the union’s claims have merit, they can recommend the full board file a complaint on the union’s behalf.” If the NLRB follows that internal recommendation, it can “then file a federal lawsuit against the league and ask the judge hearing that case to issue an injunction ending the lockout.” Sources said that both sides “must file final briefs in which they outline their cases, and those briefs are due sometime in the next week or so.” The board will “read those briefs and go from there.” The board’s investigation has involved “interviewing key officials on both sides, reading papers each side has filed and sifting through accompanying documents.” The NLRB could also “give the players leverage they don’t have now.” Lowe noted, "The opposite outcome -- the NLRB deciding the union’s claims don’t merit a complaint -- would be a major blow to the players” (, 8/29).

JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS? Wizards F and NBPA VP Maurice Evans said that “all that has been happening is that the two sides are ‘going through the motions.’" He said that the owners and players are “$7.6 billion apart.” Evans: “We’re prepared, as players, to sit out as long as we need to. It’s not fair to the players, it’s not fair to, more importantly, the players that are coming after us, if we accept this type of deal” (, 8/29).’s Matt Steinmetz said there seemingly is not "any sense of urgency right now” to reach a deal. Steinmetz: “All along it’s been obvious that the owners are digging their heels in, and I don't think anybody really expects any significant movement until we get to December and into early January with the regular season is in peril” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area," 8/29).

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: GRANTLAND’s Jonathan Abrams noted since the lockout began July 1, two buyers have reached tentative deals to purchase teams, as Joshua Harris “will soon secure” a deal for the 76ers and Alex Meruelo “is on the verge of landing” the Hawks. The purchases, which “need approval from the league's board of governors to be finalized, continue a large, recent turnover among the NBA's owners club.” Eight teams have "changed majority ownership hands” since '10. That list “alone encompasses a considerable amount of the league and does not include” the Kings or the Raptors. If those two teams are added, “one-third of the league is in some sort of current or recent ownership transition.” It is “doubtful that the new owners will have an effect on the lockout.” The NBA is “built on a seniority system,” and the “voices heard from the ownership side have overwhelmingly come from the old guard.” NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter “agree that the recent ownership push proves the league is a valuable commodity with invested personalities.” But the two “differed on what that change ultimately means.” Hunter argued that it “makes little sense for seasoned businessmen to buy into a league in which all but eight of 30 teams lost money last season, as the league's numbers show” (, 8/29).

CHINA BOUND: NBA player agent Chris Luchey said that free agent F Wilson Chandler has “signed a contract with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association.” In Denver, Benjamin Hochman notes Chandler “doesn't have an out clause in the contract, so if the lockout is resolved, Chandler can't leave his team and return to the NBA.” Chandler will “make between $1.7 million and the $3.1 million qualifying offer the Nuggets made” (DENVER POST, 8/30).’s J.A. Adande wrote a commitment to China is “akin to Chandler's waving goodbye to a potential year in the NBA.” Chandler said, "Maybe I'll lose out. But I think it can be a great experience. I haven't been in any (labor negotiation) meetings. I can't call it. I'm just taking a risk, at the end of the day." Luchey would not say how much the Chinese contract is worth, but said that it "was lower than the $3.1 million qualifying offer the Nuggets made to retain Chandler's rights.” Adande noted that is “one of the complications raised by Chandler's move: If players show that they are willing to play in lower-profile leagues for less money than their NBA salaries, doesn't that hurt the leverage of the union negotiators in their dealings with NBA owners?” Chandler: "I thought about it. I can't worry about that. That's up to the union and the owners to negotiate. They're going to negotiate what they negotiate. I don't think it's going to hurt at all" (, 8/29).

Thursday marks Roger Goodell's fifth anniversary as NFL Commissioner, and that it comes "at a time when Goodell is making high-profile -- and highly controversial -- decisions seems fitting," according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The NFL "has record-setting television ratings and rising revenues, and Goodell has put his fingerprints, as much as any of his predecessors, all over the game." His time as commissioner "has been studded with remarkable accomplishments, most recently the completion of a collective bargaining agreement that brought labor peace, and almost certainly extraordinary prosperity, to the league for the next decade." But his five years also have "included periods of intense criticism, much of it from players, as Goodell has used the blurry boundaries of the commissioner’s powers to shape everything from off-field behavior to on-field tackles." Steelers Chair Emeritus Dan Rooney said, "He’s done some things that have angered everybody, but that’s part of life." Battista notes "enhancing and expanding the NFL's reach has been a defining characteristic of Goodell’s tenure." People who have worked with Goodell contend that he is "not moved by the trappings of his job ... but cares deeply about the game and for players." That makes "particularly striking how Goodell has become a lightning rod, especially in the last two years, for those unhappy with his handling of player conduct and player safety issues." Many players, "and some fans, have been dismayed by what they consider a heavy-handed, and perhaps cynical, approach to managing the game." Browns LB Scott Fujita: "I feel like so much time and effort is poured into ‘protecting the shield’ and ‘cleaning up our game’ that we’ve lost sight of what’s good about our league. ... My hope was that player cynicism toward Goodell would have been at least partly resolved with the new CBA, but I’m afraid it might still take some time" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/30).

TOO MUCH POWER? Steelers QB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Charlie Batch believes that Goodell "had too much power when it came to disciplining players before the new collective bargaining agreement, and nothing has changed his mind." Batch: "He took it to another level when he said he was going to suspend Terrelle Pryor for five games and he wasn't even in the NFL last year. How can you do that? It's not right" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/30). Batch also addressed Goodell's suspension last season of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, saying, "How can you suspend someone when he's not found guilty? He chose to find a way to do that. I think he has too much leverage on his personal conduct policy because there are no rules" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/30).

THE GAME MUST GO ON: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick addressed the NFL's handling of the postponed Jets-Giants preseason game under the header, "No Refunds In NFL." The game at MetLife Stadium -- postponed from Saturday to last night because of Hurricane Irene -- "could not be cancelled" because the "mandatory-buy tickets were priced much too high for that." The preseason game "is not essential to the good and welfare of this area's inhabitants, nor is the NFL's integrity dependent on it being played." But it was played "because the NFL and its teams aren't about to refund anyone for extra expensive tickets to any game." Mushnick added, "Goodell is no different from that used car dealer. No refunds, not at any time, even for the sourest lemons on the lot -- and those are preseason games, must-buy, full-price preseason games" (N.Y. POST, 8/29).

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard sat down with the media last week to "share his thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics," according to Marshall Pruett of Bernard expressed support for Izod IndyCar Series President of Competition & Racing Operations Brian Barnhart, and with "recent Race Control controversies in mind," Bernard has developed a plan, "in conjunction with series partner Verizon, to bring fans inside the clandestine operation." Bernard: "What we plan on doing next week is, if you download the Izod IndyCar app, you will be able to watch race control live. We will set up a camera and you'll be able to hear Brian Barnhart and his team do what they do. Why do we want to do this? Because it shows the credibility of the (profession). They're not a bunch of guys just up there watching a race. They're doing an excellent job of calling it and we need to showcase that." Pruett wrote Bernard's effort to "pull back the covers on Race Control is commendable, but tying it to a sponsor -- one whose product is not universally available to domestic fans, or to international fans who might want to keep tabs via the web -- seems short-sighted." Meanwhile, the deadline to land non-IndyCar drivers for the season-ending race in Las Vegas is today, and signing "marquee guest drivers has been just as problematic" as most expected. Bernard: "All I can say is I can lead a horse to water, but I can't make him drink. I've done everything I can. I promised the drivers we won't make this a circus." Asked about how many drivers may participate in the $5M promotion, Bernard said, "It could be possibly zero. ... We're not giving up. We'd love to see Kasey Kahne."

HELPING IT GROW: Pruett noted Bernard has been "tasked with bringing the IndyCar Series into a place of financial solvency." His "best shot at bringing the series out of the red and into the black is by expanding the calendar through new events that offer to pay a steep sanctioning fee." With that, IndyCar Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt said series officials are "well down the path" toward having a race in China next year. Angstadt: "The agreement has been negotiated. ... I would put it at 90/10. It's positive. It's a real process" (, 8/29).