Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 12:56 pm
While the National Basketball Players Association continued a whirlwind tour of regional meetings in New York on Wednesday, there was little indication any of those meetings could bring them face-to-face with their employers anytime soon.
After union officials briefed about 10 players on the dismal state of collective bargaining talks at the NBPA headquarters in Harlem, union vice president Mo Evans said there were no immediate plans for a full bargaining session until perhaps after Labor Day.
UPDATE: There will, however, be a secretive meeting of only the highest-level negotiators for both sides next week, a person familiar with the meeting told CBSSports.com on Thursday. The session is expected to include only commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher. Also present could be Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the owners' labor relations committee. But no other players or owners are expected to be included, which could create an environment conducive to productive negotiation.
"We're looking forward to the owners re-engaging us after a couple of weeks of vacation," Evans told CBSSports.com by phone after landing in Chicago, where the NBPA will hold another regional meeting Thursday. "We're ready to negotiate. We're ready and we're available."
Each side, however, is endeavoring to prove otherwise before the National Labor Relations Board. Earlier this month, the NBA filed its own charge accusing the players of failing to bargain in good faith after the union accused the owners of the same back in May. There has been only one bargaining session involving all the key players from both sides since the owners imposed the lockout July 1.
"Even in that meeting we had, they didn't engage," Evans said. "In the proposals we've given them, the players have compromised over $650 million into the owners' pockets over six years. You say you're losing money, and we've offered over $100 million a year to take out of our pockets and they say, 'That's all? That's all? Just a modest $100 million a year?' That's just not bargaining in good faith. It's hard to get anything done that way."
The players have been flustered by Stern's public characterization of the owners' position in recent media appearances, and Evans said the purpose of the regional meetings is to "inform the players" of how Stern has been untruthful and "very inaccurate" in his portrayal of what the owners have proposed.
The NBA contends that the players' $100 million-a-year concession would result in the average player salary rising from its current level of about $5 million to $7 million by the end of the NBPA's six-year proposal and says the players actually are proposing slowing the growth of salaries by $100 million a year. With every dollar sign and zero, the fans' eyes glaze over.
"We're not so much frustrated," Evans said. "We're just not being impatient. Nothing's lost, nothing's jeopardized as of now. But we are eager to get this back on track. We're coming off a lot of record highs in terms of ratings and BRI, and the game is in such a good place. The NFL gets a 10-year deal, and I've been to some NFL (preseason) games and the fans are so excited. We owe that to our fans as well."
In meeting with players throughout the country -- more than 70 in Los Angeles and about 35 in Las Vegas last week -- Evans has heard a gathering insistence among NBPA members that they are willing to lose the entire season if that's what it takes to get a "fair deal," he said.
"The guys are willing to suck it up as long as we have to in order to stand up for what's right and protect what all the great players who've come before us have fought for," Evans said. "The Bill Russells, Michael Jordans, Larry Birds and Magic Johnsons have done great things to allow us to make the salaries we have and wear these great uniforms. It'd be a shame to give up everything those guys have fought for."
Reality dictates that neither side will give up anything until forced to do so. The only forces bearing down on these labor talks that could result in a change of heart are the players' unfair labor practices charge against the owners, which could result in a federal injunction lifting the lockout if successful, and the calendar itself. Sources on both sides understand that once the calendar flips to October, the currently distant threat of games being canceled becomes harsh reality.
"In the more than two years I've been associated with this, we've been in entire sessions on ways to increase revenues and improve the game," Evans said. "We've suggested all kinds of awesome ways that will create even more competitive balance and increase profitability. But that's not what they're interested in. The only thing they're interested in is the players taking a cut and increasing the owners' profits."
Posted on: July 8, 2011 3:47 pm
In a savvy move to bolster their basketball operations staff, the Pacers have reached a deal with former Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard to be their director of player personnel, sources familiar with the hire confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Pritchard, fired hours before the 2010 draft, will report to general manager David Morway, sources said, under a unique at-will arrangement that both sides can end at any time. Pritchard will be paid about $200,000 annually under the deal.
Pritchard will begin evaluating the roster and preparing for potential trades and the pursuit of free agents in advance of the eventual end of the lockout. With team president Larry Bird undecided about his long-term future, Pritchard's role could expand. But he also would be available to be considered for more permanent and higher-profile GM jobs as they become available.
One team thought to be a sensible landing spot for Pritchard was the Knicks, who elevated Glen Grunwald to the interim general manager position after team president Donnie Walsh stepped down last month. The arrangement comes with the understanding that Grunwald's contract will be extended for the 2011-12 season -- whenever that may be. Members of the coaching staff and some key members of the front office, such as vice president of basketball operations Jamie Mathews, director of pro scouting John Gabriel, director of pro player personnel Mark Warkentien, and regional scout Mark Hughes, also are expected to be retained for next season.
Coach Mike D'Antoni is entering the final year of his contract, and no indications have been given as to whether Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan intends to offer him an extension.
Grunwald, 53, is a respected, behind-the-scenes executive who received a strong recommendation from Walsh. If the Knicks ultimately look outside the organization to bolster the front office, among those they are expected to consider are former Hornets GM Jeff Bower and Pritchard.
Pritchard, who was briefly a teammate of Bird's with the Celtics in the early '90s, goes home to the Pacers -- up the road from his Bloomington, Ind., birthplace -- at an exciting time for the organization. Indiana acquired guard George Hill from the Spurs on draft night, and the Pacers have a talented, young roster built around Danny Granger, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert with only $37 million in committed salary for next season.
It was never clear why Pritchard, the driving force behind the Blazers' current run of success, was fired in the first place. His replacement, former Thunder executive Rich Cho, also has since been fired and landed on his feet with the Bobcats.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:18 am
Joe Lacob has impressed everyone who's dealt with him so far as an outside-the-box thinker. On Wednesday, the Warriors' owner reached outside the typical circle of candidates and found a sharp, creative basketball man who eventually will run his organization.
High-profile agent Bob Myers will become the latest to make the transition from the representation business to the front office as the Warriors' new assistant general manager, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.
GM Larry Riley will remain in the top spot, but it is clear to those familiar with Lacob's strategy that he envisions Myers eventually taking over the leading role. It is possible that Riley could remain in some capacity when the transition is complete, one of the sources said.
The move was first reported by San Jose Mercury News.
Myers, who worked under Arn Tellem at Wasserman Media Group, will renounce his representation ties to all NBA clients. His impressive roster includes such players as Brandon Roy, Tyreke Evans, Kendrick Perkins, Brook Lopez, and DeAndre Jordan. Myers follows in the footsteps of agents-turned executives Jason Levien (formerly with the Kings) and Lon Babby (hired as the Suns' president last summer.)
The first order of business for the Riley-Myers team will be to decide whether coach Keith Smart will be back for another season. A person familiar with Lacob's strategy said he wants sweeping changes in the long term, but may not be ready to part ways with his coach immediately. Lacob, according to one source, hasn't formed a strong opinion of Smart one way or the other. It could be "a couple of weeks" before the team makes a decision on Smart, according to the source, noting that Lacob wants Myers to "get his feet wet" before making any major decisions.
The end of the regular season Wednesday night is expected to bring the usual flurry of personnel moves, with Pistons coach John Kuester and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis the most likely to be fired, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. Kuester's firing is widely believed to be a foregone conclusion, though a source said there is "no timetable for anything" the organization is doing due to the pending ownership change. Rambis' tenuous situation did not get any help from GM David Kahn on Wednesday.
In holding his season-ending news conference before the season was over, Kahn stopped short of providing a vote of confidence for Rambis and said the coach's fate would be decided after the GM meets with owner Glen Taylor in the coming weeks. There seems to be little reason to wait, as two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Wednesday that preparations are under way for Rambis to be let go with two years left on his contract.
Rockets coach Rick Adelman, whose second consecutive season out of the playoffs ended Wednesday night, faces an uncertain future in Houston -- where everyone's contract is up. One person familiar with the situation described Adelman's status Wednesday as "to be determined."
In Toronto, GM Bryan Colangelo is caught in a dysfunctional situation in which powerful board member Glen Silvestri wants him out. Colangelo had sold ownership on a rebuilding plan in the wake of Chris Bosh leaving for Miami, and "that direction was agreed on," a person familiar with the situation said. But some members of ownership, chiefly Silvestri, are now suffering from what one source described as "convenient amnesia."
Colangelo's contract expires June 30, and coach Jay Triano also does not have a contract for next season. With the team expected to go up for sale in the next six months, and with a work stoppage looming, it isn't clear how quickly the majority owners will take action.
Meanwhile, as the Pacers prepare for their first-round playoff series against the top-seeded Bulls, team president Larry Bird remains "conflicted" about his future, a source said. While Bird wants to complete the rebuilding project he undertook with general manager David Morway, there are strong indications that his desire to spend time with his family and get out of the limelight -- where the Hall of Famer has always been a reluctant participant -- is weighing heavily on him. Bird's future directly affects Morway, who is expected to get a shot at the top job if Bird departs. Similarly, interim coach Frank Vogel's future is uncertain, though Vogel has earned the right to receive the first interview if the team embarks on a full-fledged coaching search.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:46 pm
With Kobe vs. LeBron Thursday night in Cleveland, it's the perfect time to come up with a list of the top five individual rivalries in NBA history.
Michael Jordan makes the list, but only barely; he never had an individual rival or anyone close to his equal.
Kobe and LeBron make it, even though they haven't (yet) competed head-to-head for a championship. But as (arguably) the two best individual performers in the game -- albeit at different stages of their careers -- this is as good as it gets in modern times. (And not because of the puppet commercials.)
So with the following rough criteria -- competing for championships, relative difference in skill level, and the competitiveness of their teams -- here are my top five individual rivalries in NBA history:
1) Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell: This is a no brainer. The two dominant players of their generation competed for the Eastern Conference title six times and the NBA title twice. Russell forever lords over Chamberlain in the debate over who (other than Jordan) was the best player ever, due to his 11 championships compared to Chamberlain's two.
2) Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson: Their rivalry began in college with the seminal NCAA title game between Indiana State and Michigan State in 1979, which made the NCAA Tournament what it is today. It continued throughout their NBA careers with the Celtics and Lakers lifting the NBA to national prominence with three NBA Finals matchups in the '80s. Lakers vs. Celtics is all you need to say to conjure memories than span generations.
3) Bird vs. Julius Erving: Before we had Bird vs. Magic on the NBA stage, we had Bird vs. Dr. J. Their teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals in four of the first six years of the '80s, splitting the four meetings to determine who would go on to face the Lakers in the Finals (with the exception of 1981, when the Celtics faced the Rockets). Who among us (in 35-and-up demographic) didn't get his first video game experience on that grainy but thrilling "One on One" video game featuring Bird and Dr. J?
4) Kobe vs. LeBron: I put them here because of A) What is, and B) What might still be. LeBron is just entering his prime, when presumably he will begin stockpiling championships. Unlike Jordan at a similar stage of his career, LeBron has a formidable, immortal rival in Bryant who is still standing in the way. Kobe continues to play at a high level and has a chance to keep LeBron's championship trophy case barren for a couple of more years. (And they have the puppet marketing machine going for them, too.)
5) Jordan vs. Isiah Thomas: As inhabitants of the same conference, Mike and Zeke never squared off with a championship on the line. But Jordan's epic battles against Isiah's Bad Boy Pistons -- taking his lumps in the '89 and '90 Eastern Conference Finals before finally breaking through in '91 -- marked the emergence of one of the all-time greats. By supplanting Isiah and the Pistons, Jordan dispensed with the last true individual rival he would face en route to six NBA titles in eight years. Their rivalry also transcended the court; it was personal. Isiah's alleged "freezeout" of Jordan in the 1985 All-Star Game, Jordan's alleged efforts to sabotage Thomas' failed bid to be included on the 1992 Dream Team, and the visceral hatred that exists to this day between Jordan's long-time agent, David Falk, and Thomas makes this a must in my top five.
Posted on: March 13, 2009 4:02 pm
The Spectrum hosts its final major league sporting event Friday night when the 76ers host the Bulls and bid farewell to the old arena filled with memories at the corner of Broad and Pattison. I spent a couple of years working in Philly and never had the pleasure of covering a game at the Spectrum. I wish I had. I would've gladly traded the dozens of Eagles and Phillies games I had to endure in the awful Vet.
When the Spectrum is demolished later this year to make room for a new hotel and retail complex, a lot of memories will go with it. The building was blessed with Julius Erving's entire career and hosted all those epic battles between the Celtics and Sixers. Dr. J and other members of the Sixers' '82-'83 championship team will be honored before the game.
I gotta ask: Couldn't the last game at the Spectrum have been Sixers-Celtics? How dumb.
Here are transcripts and audio links from radio interviews with Larry Bird and Dr. J talking Spectrum memories. Good stuff.
Posted on: January 7, 2009 1:27 pm
Interesting stuff in this Esquire interview with Larry Bird, who has been as intensely private as any athlete in the public eye I can think of over the past three decades. Among other things, Larry Legend admits that he's acquired a taste for Eminem.
"My son was listening to that and I was like, 'What is that junk?'" Bird said. "Then I started listening and I thought, 'You know, that kid is pretty good. It's the storytelling.'"