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Volume 24 No. 113

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The first "critical bargaining session of the NBA lockout" will take place today in N.Y., and the league "could still open training camps on time, if enough progress is made in the next week or two," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. But Beck notes without "a breakthrough soon, the dominoes in the schedule will begin to fall." All 30 NBA teams are scheduled "to hold their annual media day on Oct. 3, with camps opening the next day." The league "needs three to four weeks to write up the new collective bargaining agreement and sign free agents once a deal is done," which is why "all parties have been looking toward Labor Day as an unofficial deadline for making progress." During the '98 lockout, NBA officials "waited until Sept. 24 to formally postpone training camps and begin canceling preseason games." The league then "began canceling regular-season games on Oct. 13" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/31).’s Steve Aschburner reported this is a "small group session” with NBA Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and likely Spurs Owner Peter Holt. NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, NBPA President, Derek Fisher and attorney Ron Klempner will represent the union. NBA TV’s Dennis Scott said, “I'm actually excited to see the sides finally communicating and act like they like each other.” Aschburner noted there is "no internal deadline that has leaked out to the best of our knowledge” about reaching a CBS ("Game Time," NBA TV, 8/30). Knicks G and NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. said, "We've had about a 30-day break, so (today) is going to be indicative of where we are right now." Mason also indicated that the "pace of the negotiations has been frustrating." He said, "We thought it'd move a little faster than it has. It's been 30 days, but we're just looking for a deal now, so we can't really focus on what's happened before" (N.Y. POST, 8/31).

PLAYER PERSPECTIVE: In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote the NBA "risks losing fans after a slight attendance increase and swollen TV ratings, including those for a compelling Finals." Lakers F Luke Walton said, "The idea of the lockout and losing fans is probably the scariest thing of all. Even moreso than missing games or losing out on your salary for however long you lose those games, it's losing the fan support because it's at an all-time high right now" (, 8/30). Clippers C Chris Kaman said the ongoing lockout is "not something that's super exciting to think about." He added, "It's good we're holding our ground and trying to get the best deal possible, but it's also not good because it hurts the product. Fans and TV contracts, sponsorships and endorsements -- all this stuff gets hurt because (NBA) owners won't move at all" (L.A. TIMES, 8/31). Knicks F Carmelo Anthony said, "Just let us play and continue to negotiate. That's what we say. ... We want to play basketball at the end of the day. We don't care about none of that other stuff. They could settle that; just let us play and continue to negotiate" (, 8/30).

CHANDLER'S BING: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said free agent F Wilson Chandler, who earlier this week agreed to play this season in China, will not regret the deal, as "there’s a 40% chance there’s not going to be an NBA season.” The Chinese Basketball Association has said it will not allow NBA players to opt out of their contracts once the NBA lockout is over. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Chandler has "been a pretty good player in the league,” and he will “get a job for next year” in the NBA (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/30). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “He looks at the landscape. He sees it’s almost September. There’s no negotiation, nothing going on. A lot of games are going to be missed. He’s going.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige noted the “money that they’re talking about paying him over there will be about the same as what he got with the Nuggets last year." Paige: "Why not go to Europe where they’re waving big figures around ... and then you can come back whenever you want to." But L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke noted, "There might not be a season, we don’t know that yet. And when you go to China, you can’t come back” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/30).

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard “should know by this weekend” whether the Izod IndyCar Series "will follow through on its promotion to post a $5 million bounty for a win by a non-series regular” at the season-ending race in Las Vegas, according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Action sports star Travis Pastrana was committed to race “before breaking his ankle in last month’s X Games.” Bernard Saturday said that IndyCar "was looking at only two others: NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne and former CART champ Alex Zanardi” (USA TODAY, 8/31).

ON THE RIGHT TRACK?'s Pete Pistone wrote “at one time when the Indy Car Series was known as the IRL the core of the circuit was a series of high-speed oval track events that were as exhilarating as any form of racing in motorsports.” But rather than "build on those phenomenal events the series business plan moved away and back to the mix of road races and circuit events that did bring more diversity to the schedule but did so at the cost of competition.” The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix is this weekend, and events like this “will draw a good-sized crowd and more than likely be deemed a financial success.” But Pistone added, "Odds are the actual event itself will be more single file parade than memorable race as is the case with most affairs held on narrow street circuits” (, 8/30).

TAKING CHARGE: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote Bernard publicly supported Izod IndyCar Series President of Competition & Racing Operations Brian Barnhart last weekend "because there is no middle ground for any boss." Bernard "either has to back Brian 100 percent or move him, it’s that simple." Cavin added, "There are countless hours year-round in the office, and that can’t be replaced by someone like Rick Mears, who doesn’t want to spend 60-70 hours a week at a desk in Indianapolis. Now if you want a different chief steward for the races, that’s another issue, but it’s going to cost IndyCar a least $10,000 a race weekend and I don’t think it’s in the budget. Plus, if Brian is replaced there, he probably goes altogether, and right now Randy isn’t in a position to fill those duties” (, 8/30).

WPS at the moment “seems to have put off the underlying question: Can the league survive to reach its fourth year,” according to Beau Dure of For league and team execs, things “will be far from dormant over the next two critical months.” WPS, unlike the WUSA of the early 2000s, has “a chance to build on the exposure” of a FIFA Women’s World Cup. WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas said, "I look at this year as probably the strongest year overall for the league, in terms of the financials of the league, in terms of sponsorship revenue, in terms of media. What we've seen is that people have fallen in love with the women's game again, and we've tapped into that. It's on us to build on that." League officials said that TV ratings on Fox Soccer, "have surged along with sponsorship and expansion interest in the wake" of the World Cup. Atlanta Beat Owner and WPS BOD Chair T. Fitz Johnson said, "We'll have a minimum of six teams next year." The maximum “is likely eight," though Eileraas “declined to name specific expansion candidates.” Dure noted another issue that needs to be settled soon is “how much can teams pay in salary.” Johnson said, "Right now we're working with the union, and we will have a CBA in place prior to going into next season. That'll tighten up the numbers and hopefully get us a little more parity across the league" (, 8/30). In Rochester, Jeff DiVeronica noted a salary cap, scheduling around the '12 London Games and the "possible return" of Brazil star Marta are among the "hot topics" as WPS owners and execs begin this offseason. WPS CFO Kristina Hentschel said, "The (fan) response (since) the World Cup was better than we could have anticipated" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 8/30).