Blog Entry

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Posted on: February 19, 2011 12:46 am
LOS ANGELES – Just before the All-Star break, LeBron James expressed hopefulness that progress could be made in the NBA’s labor talks so a lockout could be avoided. On Friday, James willingly accepted the leadership role that comes with his stature and called out certain hard-line owners for being unrealistic in their demands. 

James was one of several particularly vocal players in Friday’s bargaining meeting, and sources told his chief complaint was with hard-line owners who’ve bought their teams in recent years and are now trying to dramatically alter the financial system they willingly bought into. 

“This has been a 57 percent system for years,” said a person who was in the meeting, paraphrasing James’ message. “This has been a system with guaranteed contracts forever. What did you guys expect? What did you think you were getting into?” 

That was among the highlights in an otherwise uneventful bargaining meeting, in which no actual negotiation was accomplished. Though the list of players in attendance was far longer than at last year’s All-Star meeting – in addition to the executive committee and some of the same top-flight stars who attended in Dallas, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Baron Davis, and Al Horford were among those in the room – the tone was much less contentious. But a compromise is no closer to occurring. 

“I’m worried about the league,” Dwyane Wade said. “It’s not just about myself, it’s about the future of the NBA. We want to make sure this game continues to grow and continues to prosper. We don’t want lockouts. We want this game to go on for many, many years, and we understand that a deal has to be done. Both sides have to come to an agreement. Neither side is going to come to an agreement if we can’t meet halfway.” 

Though National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said the owners’ hard-line position “kind of softened” by the end of the meeting, the owners still are no closer to making a second proposal to counter the players’ proposal. The owners haven’t offered anything new in terms of a formal proposal since submitting their initial slash-and-burn document 13 months ago. 

“I don’t know that there’s going to be a formal, written proposal coming from them any time soon,” Hunter said. 

And absent that, nor will there be one from the players. 

“We won’t submit another proposal” before the owners do, Hunter said. “That’s out of the question. … If we’re going to avoid a lockout, they’ve got to move off the dime.” 

Hunter said he will meet with commissioner David Stern next week after the All-Star break and schedule a series of negotiating sessions that will begin in the next 1-2 weeks. 

“I’m going to tell my guys to be prepared for a lockout,” Hunter said. “… We’ve got four months. And we’re going to see what we can do in the next four months. If it comes together, good. If it doesn’t, then we put our players on notice.” 

Hunter did not back down from his previous prediction that a lockout is 99 percent certain, but said, “We’re going to negotiate. We’re going to make every effort. I keep saying the same thing. I’m beginning to hear myself, like an echo. We’re going to make every effort to negotiate. We want a deal. Our guys do not want to be locked out. But given no choice … if you don’t give us any choice and our only alternative is to fight, then we’ll fight. 

“If it means that we’ll have to lose a season to get a deal we can live with,” Hunter said, “we’re willing to do that. We don’t want to, but we’ll suffer some pain.” 

The owners James and other players were taking aim at in the meeting were the new, hard-line group that has come into the NBA in recent years – including the owner of James’ former team, Dan Gilbert. Owners like Gilbert, the Suns’ Robert Sarver, the Celtics’ Wyc Grousbeck and the Wizards’ Ted Leonsis weren’t around for the last lockout and rely more on the financial success of their NBA teams than the old-school owners ever did. 

It is those new owners, sources say, who are pushing the hardest for dramatic changes, including a hard cap and a reduction in contract length and guarantees. Sources say the players in the meeting were incredulous that owners are suddenly so hellbent on changing the rules they signed up for. The owners offered no response to the challenges issued by LeBron and several other players, sources said, but listened to their concerns in what was termed a “cordial” and “amicable” meeting. 

Hunter also said that when the union’s University of Chicago economist asked owners if they would be asking for the same changes if they were making more money, the response was, “Yes.” This was the most significant moment in the meeting, Hunter said, with owners revealing that their goal is not to cut losses but to increase profits. 

“We may never have a consensus on what the numbers mean,” Hunter said. 

Two key issues that are expected to become contentious – a possible franchise tag and the contraction of teams in underperforming markets – did not get much attention in Friday’s meeting. But Hunter reiterated his insistence that the players will not agree to a deal without seeing details of a vastly improved revenue-sharing system – the creation of which the owners believe should be handled separately from bargaining. 

As for an issue that affects a certain free agent-to-be who faces possibly losing millions if he opts out of his contract rather than sign an extension before June 30, sources say Carmelo Anthony emerged from the meeting with no more knowledge about the issue than he came in with. Earlier in the day, when asked about the risk of entering free agency in the first year of a potentially punitive CBA, Anthony replied, “That’s why I’m about to go meet with Billy Hunter.” 

“You’ve got guys who’ve negotiated their contracts this past year – LeBron, Chris Bosh, etc.,” Hunter said. “Does that the mean that if a guy like Carmelo comes up while we’re negotiating and if the franchise player tag gets introduced and adopted, that he now suffer as a consequence because he can’t go out on the market? I don’t know if that’s acceptable to me.”

Since: Oct 22, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2011 9:05 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I really, really hope the NBA goes away.

They should turn Alcatraz island into a multi court arena for only four teams and start the system over.
To be eligible for the pros, you should have to have a college degree...bachelor's or associate's BS.
You should also have to "intern" for one year in the pay with limited minutes before you can get a "job".

Actually, just pay coaches and have them run their plays thru EA Sports and do it online so no one gets hurt...ever.

Lower the ridiculous contracts and I'll change my tune.

Since: May 31, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 8:37 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Again,  why do we care about lebron says?   Last time I looked he never went to college and barely finished high school.  Lebum go get a job like the rest of us.  Spoiled brats it's all going to come crashing down....Nba go away!

Since: Nov 16, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 8:01 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

The captains of collusion are worried about the League?  Keep talking Lebron...the villain is far more fitting to your character.  We see what happens when you (now Wade) call the shots.  Start paying more attention to the Duncans of the league regarding basketball and education when speaking on such matters

Since: Dec 3, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2011 7:26 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I just love that LeBron now thinks he is so wise.  Keep talking LBJ, keep talking.  Let me re-phrase his comment..."C'mon new owners, you knew that we players were always entitled to a whole bunch of money.  That's how this works.  We get coddled our whole life, we go out and play a game and you fellas pay us a whole bunch of money.  And damn, what is this deal with you all questioning that we get a lot of money.  You know that's how it works so why you complaining now?"

Reporter  "Excuse me LeBron, but what about the fan?  Where does he fit in this whole equation?"

LBJ - "You see, it is so simple my friend.  You see, the fan....he gets to watch me jump and throw the ball and all that.  And it is really cool 'cause I do all these special handshakes with my boys before the game.  And when I dunk I make funny faces and gestures and stuff.  See, the Miami fan (when he or she attends) gets it special because they are pretty much guaranteed that we will win every game.  Yeah, Mr. Stearns let us set it up that way by making us the focal point of the league, and not the (he, he) TEAM!  You see, I see all those middle aged men in the seats paying for those games...and that is what that guy gets for his money sir. That is what the fan gets.  You understand better now?"

Reporter  "LeBron, do you even know how much a ticket to one of your games costs?"

LBJ  "Ask my agent.  I can't talk about that stuff"

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2011 6:56 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

The problem with the NBA is it's always a two team league. LA & Boston no matter what they are the teams on Sunday tv.
Sure you've had your Dallas, San Antonio, New York & Philly once in a while. But that's how long it's been since I've paid attention to the NBA.
Also look at how long it takes these teams to recover once they've lost superstars, lotttery is a bad idea although it has been proven teams tank seasons for better draft spot.

The main reason is most fans believe they are only playing in the 4th quarter. Things get slightly more elevated in the playoffs.

But too many teams are allowed in the playoffs making the regular season pretty much meaningless.

You clould likely take todays standings & start the playoffs now because there will be little change. The teams that are out are already out. You will only have a little movement in the teams that are already qualified.

Shorten the playoff field make the playoffs all best of 7 you may get increased intrest.

But what do I know I haven't watched the NBA since Jordan (& the LeBron return to Cleveland).

Since: Feb 28, 2009
Posted on: February 19, 2011 6:55 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I'd be completely happy if the NBA would just go away.

Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2011 6:48 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Screw these players!  They are nothing but of over -paid thugs!  Pro basketball is on sport where I would be thrilled to see replacement players.  

   No more of these cocky loud mouth  idiots in the league now.  They can all go play in Europe!

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2011 5:48 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

I'm so disgusted with pro BB that I haven't watched one single game this season. I'm sick of these fools walking around making more money in one game than some folks make in a year, or years, and thinking the world revolves around their ability to dunk a basketball.Earth to LeBron, now hear this- you aren't that important.

Since: Nov 18, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2011 5:47 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Guess which way the Heat owner will vote

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2011 5:29 am

Sources: LeBron calls out owners at CBA meeting

Mouth getting bigger than his ego. Get another tatoo, oh wait, no room. Sideshow clown.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or