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Volume 25 No. 151
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Silver: NBA Committed To Solving WNBA Issues After CBA Opt Out

Some WNBA players have voiced concerns about equal pay and travel issues
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that the league's support of the WNBA "remains firm" after the WNBPA's decision last week to opt out of the current CBA, noting that addressing the issue now will have the "potential for positive results on both sides," according to Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com. Silver said of the union opting out, "I wasn't disappointed at all. ... My sense from talking to players and listening to what they're saying publicly is that we seem to be missing a connection, a real engagement between the players and the league. It's something I know we can do." Silver noted opting out "isn't just about compensation." Silver: "Listening to what they're saying -- it's also about how the league is operated, their working conditions, how we're marketing the league, how we're connecting with their fans. So, I'd rather fix this sooner rather than later." Meanwhile, the WNBA is still searching for a new president and COO, and Voepel noted while the two jobs are "not necessarily being filled in tandem, it provides the opportunity to hire people with complementary skills at around the same time." That "conceivably could leave an avenue to the president's job for a former WNBA player." Silver said, "The hardest thing would be if you had to fix the product; I don't think there's any fixing needed here. ... The question is fixing sales and marketing." Travel has also been an issue for WNBAers, but Voepel noted a complete charter program for the WNBA now would be "cost-prohibitive." Silver: "It would cost more than the value of every single ticket sold in the WNBA last season" (ESPN.com, 11/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Young wrote under the header, "Adam Silver Committed To Working With WNBA, Players Ahead Of CBA Negotiations" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/7).

ISSUES AT HAND: The WNBA Las Vegas Aces in August were forced to forfeit a game against the Mystics after the team decided not to play due to health and safety concerns following almost 26 hours of traveling, and Aces C Carolyn Swords, who is the team's WNBPA rep, said the incident is an "example of something that happens every couple years." Swords: "One team or another has to face some sort of travel delay issues. (It was about) recognizing that we could solve what happened with some sort of provision that were to put protocol in that place if it would happen. It's not just charter planes. It's traveling multiple time zones in a day." Swords said the WNBA has "become incredibly competitive" in recent years. Swords: "You've seen rivalries develop and new teams come to the top ... (It's about) just enhancing that growth and (making) an investment in a really elite league" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/8). Meanwhile, in Boston, Gary Washburn wrote the "sticky part" about the WNBPA opting out of the current CBA is that the league is "without a permanent commissioner" after Lisa Borders' resignation. NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Mark Tatum is serving as interim president of the WNBA and "handling negotiations with the WNBPA." One "suggestion for a potential commissioner" is Basketball HOFer Lisa Leslie. The WNBA has had "issues retaining commissioners long term, having had three in the last 13 years" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/4).