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Volume 24 No. 159

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA owners yesterday made a “modest push from their rigid stance on implementing a hard salary cap,” according to sources cited by Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. The owners proposed at the CBA negotiating session “an idea similar to the current system that allows teams to pay a luxury tax for going over the cap.” The new proposal now means there would be "ultra-punitive measures against higher-spending teams.” The current system has teams “pay a dollar-for-dollar tax for exceeding the cap.” A source said the owners' proposal yesterday "would still have the affects of a hard cap.” Sources said that the owners “didn’t budge on a desire to change the basketball-related income percentage (BRI) to a split that takes the players from 57 percent to the mid 40s.” The players at a meeting last week in “had offered to drop from a 57-43 split to 54-46.” However, while the owners' proposal “was a slight upgrade, it is unlikely to move union leadership.” The NBA and NBPA “met for a little less than two hours" yesterday and are meeting again today (, 9/27).’s Ken Berger cited a source who said today’s bargaining session is "an important day." Sources said that the owners “will come forward Wednesday with an enhanced version of the concepts proposed Tuesday.” Sources said that “among the additions could be a proposed 50-50 revenue split, which to this point the league has not reached in terms of the players' average share over the life of a new CBA in its previous proposals.” One source said the system changes the owners proposed yesterday were "alarming." Berger noted even if the owners “improved their economic proposal to 50-50” for today’s meeting, it “seems unlikely that union officials would accept that without significant pushback on the system adjustments that are tied to it.” And it is “even less likely” that NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and Lakers F and NBPA President Derek Fisher, under “pressure from powerful agents pushing to dissolve the union through decertification or a disclaimer of interest, would be able to garner support for such a deal in the face of such opposition” (, 9/27).

MUM'S THE WORD: In N.Y., Howard Beck notes yesterday’s meeting was “briefer than usual, although both sides cautioned not to read it as a negative sign.” NBA Commissioner David Stern and Fisher were “purposefully vague about the substance of their meeting, saying only that they discussed ‘concepts’ for a new labor deal, and not specific proposals.” But Fisher “hinted that those concepts could become more substantive.” Fisher: “These are things that if we can get into the range of, get into the zone of, then maybe we can put a deal together” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/28). USA TODAY’s J. Michael Falgoust writes there is “not much time left for talks this week because Jewish members on both sides will begin observing Rosh Hashanah at sundown.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said that owners are “prepared to return Friday if warranted” (USA TODAY, 9/28). The NBA last week canceled the start of training camps and 43 exhibition games through Oct. 15. When asked yesterday whether more cancellations would follow if no deal is made by the end of this week, Stern said, "Both teams played hard and the calendar is not our friend" (L.A. TIMES, 9/28).

INTERNATIONAL INTERESTS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Wojnarowski wrote of international teams’ interest in Lakers G Kobe Bryant, “From Turkey to Italy, the suitors for the globe's most popular player have gone to incredible lengths to make sure they never cut a deal with Bryant.” The bidding on Bryant “has been beneficial” for the NBPA as it “reminds owners of the NBA's star power, its global reach.” Wojnarowski: “It does so much more than superstars reducing themselves to a series of public shirts-and-skins pick-up games in college gyms” (, 9/27). Meanwhile, Bulls G Derrick Rose yesterday said he is "taking into consideration that I might be going overseas" should the season be canceled. Two sources confirmed that Rose “has at least one offer in hand from an overseas team and discussions with several others” (, 9/27). Rose: “It’s looking pretty bad right now. If this lockout continues, then, for sure, I’ll take into consideration going overseas and playing there” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/28).

OUR SIDE OF THE STORY: The NBA has issued a statement regarding an article Malcolm Gladwell wrote for titled, "The Nets And NBA Economics." The NBA said, "Mr. Gladwell asserts that NBA owners shouldn't care if they lose hundreds of millions of dollars -- as Bruce Ratner did during his ownership of the Nets -- because they have other businesses that may or may not be profitable. We strongly disagree with that premise" (THE DAILY).

Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke yesterday "welcomed a statement by the NHL against homophobic comments by players, saying it was an important development for the league," according to Mark Zwolinski of the TORONTO STAR. Burke said, "The sport has to move that way, we want the game open to everyone." The NHL earlier yesterday released a statement "regarding homophobic and racist comments made by players during games." The league in the statement "strongly denounced such behaviour by players as unacceptable, saying it will not tolerate any further use of such language." Although the NHL "did not spell out what the repercussions might be for uttering such slurs, it's believed that players will face some manner of on-ice penalty if they are found to have violated that language code." Despite the league's statement, an investigation into Monday's incident between Rangers LW Sean Avery and Flyers RW Wayne Simmonds "found no grounds for a suspension." Avery after Monday's Rangers-Flyers preseason game submitted a complaint to the league indicating that Simmonds "referred to him using a homophobic epithet." The NHL said that since there were "'conflicting accounts' of what took place -- including Simmonds 'expressly' denying using a slur -- and none of the on-ice officials heard any such comments, the league was 'unable at this time to take any disciplinary action.'" But it did "reserve the right to 'revisit the matter' if new evidence were to arise" (TORONTO STAR, 9/28). Simmonds said that he told NHL Dir of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell that he "had not used an epithet." Simmonds: "He asked me if I called him a gay slur, and I said no" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/28).

ALL TOO COMMON: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts noted Burke, the NHL's "most visible advocate for gay rights thinks it is time players are educated about one of the most common insults in hockey." He said, "I do believe with hockey players it's habitual. These terms are acceptable and habitual and that's got to change. It doesn't make them less offensive to our gay fans. We wouldn't tolerate it if he said the n-word; he'd get suspended. There are some other words that are equally hateful and offensive" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28). Shoalts writes while "racial slurs have been thrown around by NHL players from time to time, it is far more common for homophobic remarks to be heard in heated situations on the ice." Shoalts: "In the last couple of years, many hockey players have said they support gay rights or would support a player who decided to go public with his sexuality. But the fact is, many more, particularly younger players like Simmonds, have a lot to learn" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/28). However, in Toronto, Damien Cox writes some in the NHL "seemed disinclined to make the league patrol what comes out of the mouths of its players." Senators coach Paul MacLean: "That's what parenting is for." Cox: "It may indeed be well over and above the reach of league authorities to legislate and enforce tolerance" unless NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants a "fifth official on the ice to monitor how players are slagging one another" (TORONTO STAR, 9/28).

TO FINE OR NOT TO FINE: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said he was "not for the fining of the use of language on courts, on ice, on fields, because everybody used it all the time.” Wilbon: “It’s a lot more serious problem than fines are going to solve.” But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the league should have fined Simmonds because “these are the rules we live under now.” He said the “culture has changed” and it “doesn’t go anymore." Kornheiser: "More things are on television, language is picked up and you have to take a stand” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/27). Plaschke said the NHL should “make it hurt, and you make it clear that just because you’re the victim of racial intolerance yourself is no reason to use intolerance on someone else.” ESPN's Tony Reali noted Simmonds, who is black, had a banana thrown at him during a game last week and said it "has not been a good preseason for the NHL" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/27).

: ESPN CHICAGO's Scott Powers reported Northwestern Univ. has become the "first college athletic department to join the 'It Gets Better Project,' which was designed to provide hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other bullied teens." NU contributed to the project "by creating a video to support the organization's mission." The video "includes messages from athletic director Jim Phillips and a number of players and coaches" (, 9/27).