Blog Entry

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Posted on: September 28, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 5:01 pm
NEW YORK -- Calling it a "key moment" in efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement, commissioner David Stern said Wednesday that the full negotiating committees from both sides will meet Friday and through the weekend as they try to save the 2011-12 season.

"There are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend," Stern said after league negotiators and representatives for the National Basketball Players Association met for a second straight day at an Upper East Side hotel. "Either we’ll make very good progress, and we know what that would mean – we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it – or we won't make any progress. And then it won’t be a question of just starting the season on time. There will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress."

In addition to the players' executive committee and the owners' full labor relations board, union president Derek Fisher said several "key players" will be attending Friday's meeting. Among them are expected to be LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, sources said, with other stars like Amar'e Stoudemire and Kevin Durant possibly joining the negotiations.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the two sides agreed to expand their presence because "whatever decisions we are now going to be making would be so monumental" as to require the presence of those who'd be signing off on them.

You didn't have to read to closely between the lines to catch the meaning from Stern and Silver, who sought to ratchet up the pressure on getting a deal or risk not simply an on-time start to the season, but indeed the whole thing. With training camps already postponed and a first batch of preseason games canceled, Stern said the two sides are "at a period of enormous opportunity and great risk."

"I can't say that common ground is evident, but our desire to try to get there I think is there," Fisher said. "We still have a great deal of issues to work through, so there won't be any Magic that will happen this weekend to just make those things go away. But we have to put the time in. We have a responsibility to people to do so."

The incremental rise in doomsday talk from Stern signaled that the negotiations are entering a new phase, where the threat of a canceled season will become a leverage point for both sides. If no agreement is reached by the end of the weekend -- the four-week mark before the scheduled regular season opener -- it would be virtually impossible to get a subsequent deal written, hold abbreviated training camps and a preseason schedule, and pull off a shortened free-agent period.

And yet neither side evidently was prepared to move enough Wednesday to get within reach of a deal. That moment of truth, one way or another, should come in the next 96 hours.

Once the league agreed to replace its insistence on a hard cap with the more punitive luxury tax and other provisions -- a "breakthrough," as one person familar with the talks called it -- it sparked "the process of negotiation" that the two sides have arrived at now. 

"There could be some compromises reached," the person said.

According to multiple sources familiar with the talks, the owners did not enhance their economic offer Wednesday, instead focusing on using systemic changes to hit the number they are seeking to achieve -- still 46 percent for the players over the life of a new deal. The problem, sources say, is that the players are not willing to accept a deal at that percentage, and that some of the systemic adjustments the league has proposed as alternatives to a hard team cap will act like a hard cap -- such as a luxury-tax system that rises from dollar-for-dollar tax to $2 or more.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter has called a hard team salary cap a "blood issue" for the union, and Fisher wrote in a letter to the union membership this week that he and Hunter will continue to oppose any deal that includes one "unless you, the group we represent, tell us otherwise."

In addition to what they presented as hard cap alternatives -- which also included a reduction in the Bird and mid-level exceptions -- league negotiators also have presented a concept that could drive a wedge in the players' association. In exchange for keeping certain spending exceptions in place -- albeit in a reduced form -- one idea floated by the owners was a gradual reduction in existing contracts -- the "R" word, as in rollbacks -- that would minimize the financial hit for players who will be signing deals under the new system.

Such a proposal would alleviate the problem of players such as James, Wade, Stoudemire, Anthony, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson having outsized contracts compared to stars who'd be faced with signing lesser deals under a new system. In essence, the players who already are under contract would take a percentage cut in the early years of a new CBA -- 5 percent the first year, 7.5 the second and 10 percent in the third year, sources said -- so that players like Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams wouldn't bear a disproportionate share of the burden when they sign their max deals under the reduced salary structure the owners are seeking.

The provisions are not geared strictly for the star class of players; in fact, the proposed rollbacks would be across the board, "for everyone," a person with knowledge of the idea said. And while this concept may alleviate the problem of having future stars bear more of a burden, it would create other problems -- not the least of which is the players' unwillingness to accept a percentage of BRI in the mid 40s that would make such rollbacks necessary.

It is for this, and other reasons -- such as restrictions the owners would want even in a soft-cap system -- that a person familiar with the owners' ideas told Tuesday night that what they were proposing was deemed "alarming" by union officials.

And it is why Stern said Wednesday, "We are not near a deal."

"I'm focused on, let’s get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season," Stern said. "And that’s what’s at risk this weekend."

But amid all the comments made throughout these negotiations, it was an ordinary fan who hit a home run Wednesday with the most sensible statement yet. As Hunter and other union officials spoke with reporters on the street outside the hotel hosting negotiations, a guy in a white luxury sedan stopped in the middle of the street and started pounding on his door panel.

"We want basketball!" the fan shouted. "Stop the playing and get it done!"

He then drove off, heading west, having made the most sense of anyone.


Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 6:09 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

I would LIKE to respect the players more as people as well.  But players were NEVER likeable if you paid attention?  The Dream Team era?   You mean dead-beat Dad's like Larry Bird and Karl Malone?  I won't even bother to get get into Charles Barkley's past (at least he KNOWS he is not a role model). Michael "the gambler" Jordan - (did you hear is Hall of Fame induction speech - arrogance taken to a poetic level)?  Prostitute/strip-club patron Patrick Ewing?  Alcoholic Chris Mullin (great guy, I have actually met him)?  I take THE virus too serious to tease Magic Johnson about it, but lets just say he was a womanizer once upon a time.  And it wasn't just those guys in the early 90's.  Robert Parrish got caught with weed.   Nobody EVER liked Kareem (he will point that out himself - still whines about it today).  Moses Malone was far from a great spokesman - FO' FO' FO'.  Julius Erving was a deadbeat dad too.  Isaiah Thomas actually managed to be less likeable than his college coach Bobby Knight (how is that even possible)?

The point is I loved all of those guys (and judging by the earlier comments, most basketball fans still do). They were my (our) heroes growing up.  And when then got caught doing something illegal, immoral, or even just too HUMAN, you know what I said?  "Wow, they are regular people too."  They did not descend from Olympus, nor were they rescued by Pharoah's wife from the river.  They are regular people... who have a talent that is amazing to watch.  When I am lucky, their talents divert my attention from the crap that I have to deal with every day, and give me something to watch on the news besides what country is getting bombed today or who got shot last night (Jason Williams not withstanding).

I need my politicians to be inteligent and ethical. I need my clergy to by moral and upstanding.  I need athletes to entertaining.  It would be great if all of them could fulfill ALL of those adjectives, but I am cool if they just fulfill the one I NEED. 

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:36 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Couldn't agree more!

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:26 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Somebody mentioned the idea of what we want to come out of this as fans. For me its simple: I would like to watch the NBA again because I respect the players. That goes for both talent and who they are. I'm not saying that can be worked out in labor talks, but this league would benefit from a year off just to re-shape the entire image.

The NBA used to stand for "No boys allowed."

Now it stands for "Nothing but A-holes."

Players, owners, coaches included.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:13 pm

The 80's NBA today

What we need to happen for NBA to find the 1980’s formula again?  Well, Jimmer Fredette woud have had to lead BYU to the NCAA Finals, where he met and loss to Carmelo Anthony (its all hypothetical - just work with me on this one).  Both would have to enter the NBA to compete with an aging Kobe who would have to spend their first 4 years beating on the door, only to be joined by Dwight Howard and finally win a championship in 2013.  Fredette would be teamed with a young Chris Paul and David West.  Eventually, the latter two would be replaced by Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge.  On the otherside, ‘Melo would be teamed with Deron Williams, an older (but pre-Knicks) Tracy McGrady, and Tim Duncan from the start.  Eventually, Williams and McGrady would move on, but would be replaced by Blake Griffin and Monte Ellis.  THEN, Lebron would show up halfway into the decade and do battle with Fredette every year in the playoffs once Kobe retired. 
The names are not as important as who "an aging Kobe" or a "pre-Knicks" Tracy McGrady represent.  If you were a fan of those teams or a casual basketball fan, those days were great.  If you were rooting for the Knicks or Hawks or Pacers for most of that decade... eh, not so much. 

Since: Sep 29, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:59 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

I have read a majority of these comments and it seems the overall consensus about losing an NBA season is: who cares? I know for one, I don't. The older fans all miss the days of good team basketball. For those who are to young to remember, I'll give you an idea. A guy coming into the league was weak on an outside jump shot. Who was that and what did he do? It was Jordan and during the off season, he practiced, practiced, practiced. The rest is history. What do today's players do: works with Olajuwon for 3 days, markets his brand, and gets 17 more tattoos-LeBrick James. A young talented, but limited in game, college center makes his way into the NBA. What does that player do to improve his limited game, works with Mo Malone in the off season to improve his footwork, rebounding, and overall game. Who is that-Hakeem Olajuwon. Today's young talented, center, what does he do to try to make up for his limited game: he flexes his muscles and grabs his d**k every time he dunks-Dwight Howard. Guys back in the day cared about winning and doing it as a team. I could never imagine Larry Bird quitting on the Celtics to join Magic and Lakers to win not one, not two, not three.....

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:55 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

"NOW" is a key moment?  Then why did you even bother negotiating earlier?  Ugh.... 


NBA fans need to decide what they want. We already know the owners have NO CLUE what they want, and the players want EVERYTHING.  At least as fans, we need to collectively figure out what we expect. 

One set of fans seems to constantly write that they want a system like the NFL where every team can compete, but that is really just wishful thinking.  Over the past decade, only 11 different franchises have been to the NBA Finals.  Football's model is no remedy for that - during the same time, only 12 have gone in to the NFL title game.  All 32 teams in the NBA have gone to the playoffs and had at least one season with a record better than .500 in the past 10 years.  In football, Houston has never been to the playoffs. Detroit has not been over .500 in over a decade, and the Buffalo Bills are also a 0-for-the-millenium.  Bottom line, if "competitive balance FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS" is what you want, the NFL is not much better the the NBA.

Another set of fans argues that the game was better in 1980's, and we need to find a way back to that.  You are going to have to keep wiishing on that one.  The decade was a perfect storm of events that are just unlikely to EVER reoccur. The first 9 years of that decade were magical - the UNQUESTIONED (Julius Erving) most revered player of the previous decade was on a championship level team in a big market.  The greatest one-on-one rivalry in the history of team sports (Magic-vs-Bird) hit the league already at a frenzied pace following the 1979 NCAA championship, and again, each player ending up in a major market.  All 3 of them were surrounded with Hall of Famers, including the All-time leading scorer in in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  And, oh, by the way, there was that Jordan guy who was not so bad who showed up midway through the decade.  Arguably, the best player at each position in the history of the NBA was in action at the same time.  Comparing any time to that time is unrealistic.  And by the way, there was no competitive balance then.  Only 5 different franchises made it to the Finals during that entire decade.

The most rational of fans just want to see less BAD basketball.  That means either contraction, or fewer games, or fewer teams on televsion, but anyway you slice that, the small market teams lose out.  Hey, I have no problem with that.

I personally would love to see the 80's come back.  5 or 6 good teams with all the great players on those teams.  No salary cap, and I don't need competitive balance.  I am not going to more than 1 or 2 games per year, so all of my NBA action is on television.  Pardon me if I don't feel that watching the Minnesota Grizzlies play the Milwaukee Bucks is worth my time and energy.

Since: Jun 4, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:26 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Sorry sports nation, that previous post was for jetiii...  If you want a good laugh, read his novel below, then read my response!

Since: Jun 4, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:26 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Was this a rant about basketball or just a long story where you could put in all your "great accomplishments"???  I read what you wrote, (which is the same dribble everyone else is writing.)  Yours was fresh and orignal though be cause you informed of your famous "hotel building" "world traverling" son, how you had seasons tickets to the Rams and Raiders and how you were a DUAL athlete in college, then went on to be a proffesional baseball player!!! You are one special guy my man!!  Of course, your name isn't on here, have no proof of anything you've written on here and are probably a 15 year old kid in "the valley" writing on his I-Pad..

Since: Jun 3, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2011 2:03 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

Start a new league.... Most will think I mean giving players the money they want with a new league, but that is the total opposite. Any businessman knows that when you start something, you cannot afford to pay big dollars. By startinga new league, players would have to play for minimums and work their way up. Some more known would make more, but not enormous amounts. Trump has always wanted his hand in sports, but when lockouts come around, he hides. This would be the golden time to seize the moment, get a good and capable Commissioner, and turn it back into a TEAM game. The NBA has been changed since these Divas get their way. Many say MJ got his way, but I beg to differ, because he nevergot over 10 million until his last years. He cared more about winning championships than getting paid, but I guess if you own your own shoe brand, then you don't need the NBA's money....

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:50 pm

Efforts to save season reach 'key moment'

This whole fiasco is caused by a dozen "elite" NBA players and their agents leading thier union and owners around by the nose.

All else equal, the simplest solution is the best.

In my opinion, there has been NO sense of urgency, because no one believes the NBA can or will go on without these guys...I disagree completely.

Owners just need to establish new guidelines that make sound business sense, still pay millions for players, and go forward without the two dozen players that are holding everyone else hostage.  If the NBA opened camps for previously contracted players AND tryouts, with the stipulation that any former NBA player NOT in camp in 10 days would be issued a 5 year suspension, and if they aren't with their team by the start of the season, it would be a lifetime ban...and stuck to it, their problems would be over, very quickly.

Does anyone believe that LeBron James is going to walk away from the salary, endorsements and attention of the NBA to play out a career in Europe ? How much do you think these guys will make when the European leagues understand they are no longer having to compete with the NBA for top salaries anymore, and the NBA signees had no where else to play ? "Lockout offers" would drop like the Greek economy. Players would hustle back to the NBA quicker than they ever did on a fast break...Next year, college players would enter the NBA again, and new "stars" will rise, happy to take the abandoned million dollar contracts and lucrative endorsements these egotistical idiots lost because of their lack of perspective. 

Fans of NBA will attend without these guys, possibly even more if prices drop a little. Fame is fleeting, and a fool and his money are lucky to get together in the first place. Those are lessons the unappreciative millionaire players need to learn. 

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