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Volume 24 No. 134

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Today is expected to be a "busy day" in the NBA labor negotiations, with "another bargaining session featuring only the heaviest hitters and activity in the league's federal lawsuit against the players," according to Ken Berger of In addition to the third negotiating session between the league and players since the lockout began July 1, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe "has called a telephone conference" for 5:00pm ET today regarding the NBA's federal lawsuit. Gardephe "has ordered attorneys for both sides to join a conference call to discuss the scheduling of hearings, the basic positions on each side and the motion to dismiss the players' attorneys have informed the court they will be filing." The call is a "mere formality, but a reminder to all involved on both sides that the case will move forward at an excruciatingly slow pace if they don't reach an agreement in time to avoid the cancellation of games." Berger noted "one thing both sides have agreed on from the beginning is that the only realistic resolution to this dispute will happen at the bargaining table, and so it should be taken with a reasonable amount of optimism that the only people with the power to make that happen will be staring across the table at each other again Wednesday for the second time in 14 days." As was the case when the NBA and NBPA met last week, today's meeting "will be limited" to a select few: NBA Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver and Spurs Owner Peter Holt representing the league, and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher and attorney Ron Klempner for the union. Berger added, "Nothing has changed, per se, on either side. But what we're beginning to witness with the secretive meetings with only the big dogs invited is a demonstration that the league and players are meandering down the path they have been destined to travel for months" (, 9/6). NBA TV’s Dennis Scott said, “The fact that they're communicating, the fact that they're trying to meet and some more meetings are supposedly coming up, that's a great sign. When there's no communication, there’s no fighting going on, that's when I get nervous ” (“GameTime,” NBA TV, 9/6).

CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR? NBA reporter Chris Sheridan noted the two sides are a "lot closer to a settlement than most people realize." If the owners come to the table today "with an offer that promises more money than the flatlined $2 billion in Years 1-7 that they have been proposing, they’ll be getting somewhere." Another "major sticking point, for now, is the owner’s desire to transition from the current soft cap system to a hard cap system in Year 3 of the new CBA, which would necessitate an unprecedented giveback, perhaps through an unlimited escrow tax, perhaps from an across-the-board salary cut for every NBA player, that the players would simply not accept." Sheridan: "The Year 3 transition that the league is seeking is actually a red herring. But if there were to be a transition to a hard cap (or a harder team cap through a more punitive luxury tax system) in Year 5 or Year 6, it would allow teams a half-decade of long-term financial planning to get ready for the new harder-cap system. This is one of the areas where it seems the owners have no choice but to soften their current stance" (, 9/5). SPORTING NEWS' Sean Deveney noted the main points of contention "have been how the league and players will split basketball-related revenues, and whether the owners should get the hard salary cap they laid out in the initial proposal." A source said that the players "have already acceded to stiffening the cap, but they want it to be offset by increased revenue sharing and they want to protect the league’s middle class, so that stars are not claiming an inordinate percentage of payrolls." The source: "There’s always a chance that things could unravel or that you take a step back, but it sounds to me like some of the obstacles, at least, could be overcome" (, 9/6).

MAKING AN IMPACT: In N.Y., Howard Beck noted NBA players starting next week "will be competing against NBA players in something resembling an NBA-caliber league." More than 40 players "have committed to play" in the league at Impact Basketball gym in Las Vegas. As many as "eight teams, featuring seven or eight players each, will play daily" starting next Monday in the tournament, the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series. The series "will conclude with two days of playoffs, with a championship game Sept. 23." Games will be "officiated and played under NBA rules, albeit with 10-minute quarters and without coaches barking from the benches." The plan is to "sell tickets (about 500 per day, with proceeds donated to charity) and to stream the games live on the Internet" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/4). Longtime NBA player trainer Joe Abunassar, a driving force behind the Las Vegas league, "plans to post statistics and standings on the Impact Basketball website and hopes to reach a deal with a broadcaster to provide feeds to the games online." The league "will feature only NBA players" (, 9/6). Asked about the Impact league, Heat F Chris Bosh said, "It’s a cool thing, but it’s just not me. I think a lot of guys want to use that to their advantage, but it’s just not me. There are so many things that can happen. There are so many different obstacles, like insurance and if I get hurt, that I just stay away from those things. But for some guys, that’s good for them, and if they love doing it, then that’s great for them. But for me, I like to stay healthy" (, 9/3).

The NHL is bringing 34 of its top players and 15 national rights holders to N.Y. for two days of promotional shoots and media visits. Called the Player Media Tour, the event runs Thursday and Friday. The league started the meeting in '08 as a way to connect players with rights holders and national media sources on the eve of the season. The league last year hosted 20 players. As a new element to this year’s tour, the NHL will take its marquee players to visit the offices of NBC, the N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, SI, Time magazine, SiriusXM radio, Complex magazine and New York Magazine. Penguins C Sidney Crosby, Bruins G Tim Thomas and Lightning C Steven Stamkos will be in attendance. The league is filming the majority of the promo videos at Prudential Center in Newark as well as the league offices in midtown Manhattan. The NHL also is filming a series of educational spots for NBC Learn, the education arm of NBC News. The tour kicks off tonight with a fundraising event at the Versace boutique on Fifth Avenue, which will raise money for the NHL Foundation.

Chicago-based investment firm CME Group is “prepared to bring the historic, recently revived Titleholders to TwinEagles in North Naples in November 2012,” more than “10 years after the area’s last LPGA event folded,” according to Seth Soffian of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. The CME Group Titleholders, scheduled this year for Nov. 17-20 at Grand Cypress in Orlando, was “first held in 1937 and recognized as a major championship throughout its 28-year-history.” The Titleholders would be the “sixth different LPGA Tour event to be held in Southwest Florida.” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan “revived the Titleholders this year as the season-ending, limited-field tour championship.” He “installed several twists over last year’s lackluster installment, also at Grand Cypress, to spur interest and player incentive to qualify” (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 9/3). GOLF WEEK’s Beth Ann Baldry noted the “winner’s check of $500,000 is second only to the U.S. Women’s Open, making the event a potential game-changer for year-end accolades.” Whan created “a season-long qualifying system, where the top three players from each tournament (not otherwise qualified) ‘punch their ticket’ to the season finale,” and the field “maxes out at 69.” Whan “wants caddie bibs to display the logo of the tournament from which each player qualified.” He also “wants each player to walk through a row of trophies on the way to the first tee.” The event “will be live on the Golf Channel” from 1:30-4:00pm ET all four days, and “there won’t be a cut” (, 9/1).