Tag:Michael Jordan
Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Owners' full board to meet Saturday

NEW YORK -- NBA owners will convene for a meeting of the full Board of Governors Saturday morning, hours before a critical bargaining session with the players' association, a person familiar with the meeting told CBSSports.com.

A representative from each team will attend the 10 a.m. meeting in Manhattan, setting the stage for a resumption of talks with the players at 4 p.m. that could determine if the 2011-12 season can be saved.

After about 50 players participated in a conference call Thursday with an antitrust attorney to discuss the possibility of involuntary decertification of the National Basketball Players Asssociation, league negotiators are facing intense pressure from hardliners in the ownership ranks. The New York Times reported Friday that Charlotte owner Michael Jordan is leading a group of 10-14 owners who are vowing to vote against any agreement that gives the players more than 50 percent of basketball-related income (BRI).

It was Jordan who, during the 1998-99 lockout, famously stood up in a bargaiing session and chastised late owner Abe Pollin when he told him that if he can't make a profit, he should sell his team. Now on the other side as an owner, Jordan is siding with a group of owners who do not want to negotiate beyond a 50-50 split -- even though the players already have agreed to shift $1.2 billion to the owners over six years. The $200 million-a-year reduction from their previous share of 57 percent addresses the majority of the $300 million the owners say they are losing annually.

UPDATE: But according to two people briefed on the decertification call, opinions among players participating varied on how valid an option it would be. Some players, such as Ray Allen, participated simply to become informed about the antitrust options at the players' disposal, one of the people said.

The stage is set for a powder keg atmosphere at Saturday's bargaining session in which owners could be even more dug in after losing a month of games. It also is possible that the owners' position could harden simply based on the fact that they do not want to be perceived as capitulating to the decertification threats, which have been organized behind the union leadership's back.

UPDATE: A source from each side said only the full bargaining committees are expected at the afternoon negotiating session, but the list of attendees is fluid and could change. But CBSSports.com learned that federal mediator George Cohen will, in fact, oversee Saturday's talks. 
Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 12:56 pm
 

NBPA's Evans says players 'ready to negotiate'

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: May 8, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Lakers' run ends in disgrace

What a disgrace. 

The career of the most decorated, accomplished coach in NBA history … the relentless pursuit of a sixth title by Kobe Bryant, the greatest champion in the sport since Michael Jordan … any shred of dignity the Lakers might’ve left Dallas with Sunday after an embarrassing sweep … all of it crumbled under the weight of a colossal humiliation and dishonor put forth by the two-time defending champions. 

Losing is one thing. Getting swept is another. Getting sent home in an utterly uncompetitive blowout is even worse. But nothing is more disgusting than champions acting like punks. Nothing is more embarrassing than a team that cannot lose with dignity. 

The revolting episode that was most likely Phil Jackson’s final game as a coach will have far-reaching implications. This 122-86 debacle, and the deplorable behavior that went along with it, is the kind of loss whose aftershocks last for months, if not years. 

We already knew this would be a very different Lakers team next season, even if they’d won a third straight title. We already knew there would be a new coach. And this is the NBA; there are usually some new players. 

But this sudden, thorough, and inexplicable descent into dysfunction and depravity will not go unpunished. 

Lamar Odom, and particularly Andrew Bynum, will never be able to repay Jackson for shaming him this way. Bynum, a positive force during much of the series, doesn’t deserve to wear a Lakers uniform again after his unconscionable cheap shot to a defenseless, airborne J.J. Barea in the fourth quarter of a 30-point humiliation. There’s no place for that regardless of the victim, but Bynum violated the No. 1 rule of the schoolyard (where he belongs) and the NBA: Pick on someone your own size. Only punks and losers take aim at those half their size. 

The fact that Bynum needed Ron Artest – involved in one of the most notorious behavioral incidents in NBA history – to escort him past the Mavericks’ bench and toward the locker room told you everything you needed to know. At least Artest’s gesture proved that that Lakers’ team bond hadn’t completely eroded. In a sick way, Artest sticking up for a teammate who’d done something so cowardly was the only evidence that there was anything at all left of these Lakers as currently constructed. 

Championship caliber teams sometimes win in the playoffs, and sometimes they lose. Sometimes they lose like the ’91 Pistons, who walked out before time expired in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Bulls. Sometimes, they lose like the Spurs, who have never sacrificed an ounce of their professionalism for some twisted, macho moment that lasts but a second but stains your reputation forever. 

The Lakers, at the end for Jackson and near the end for Bryant, have managed to put themselves in the company of disgraced champions – those who don’t engender or deserve the respect of the generations. Big changes for the Lakers are now not only likely and expected, but also necessary, even mandatory. Say good-bye to Hollywood, say good-bye to the babies who couldn’t lose like champions. Shame on them, and good luck to the professionals they will leave behind to try to resurrect the Lakers’ proud history. 

Whatever uniform he is wearing in October, or whenever the NBA resumes, Bynum will be watching from his hotel room at a Four Seasons somewhere because he’ll most certainly be suspended. His actions will be suspended in time, serving as a lesson for every one of his contemporaries who play this game. 

We can only hope the Celtics and Heat were watching this. One of them will lose that series, and whoever it is will have an obligation to lift basketball out of the gutter the Lakers abandoned it in on Sunday.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 9:42 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 9:52 am
 

Kobe rips owners: 'Look in the mirror'

LOS ANGELES – With labor talks reaching a critical stage between now and the All-Star break, Kobe Bryant weighed in for the first time Sunday night with some strong words for NBA owners.

“I think the owners need to look in the mirror,” Bryant told CBSSports.com when asked about the $750 million to $800 million reduction in player salaries being sought by the owners. “They need to make the right judgment themselves and stop trying to force us players to be the ones to make adjustments. They’ve got to look in the mirror and decide what they want to do with the sport, and we as employees will show up and do what we’ve got to do.”

Bryant, the highest-paid player in the league under what is likely to be his final contract, is scheduled to join Michael Jordan as the league’s only $30 million players in the final year of the deal in 2013-14. Asked where he stands in the labor dispute that could be more punitive to stars like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose – who likely won’t get new contracts until a new CBA is in place – Bryant said, “I’m going to fight for our players.”

“It’s about making sure we have the best deal going forward,” Bryant said. “That’s my stance and that’s not going to change. I’m not going to waver. It’s about taking care of the generation that’s coming after us. That’s what the guys before us tried to do, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m not going to waver from that.”

These were the strongest words yet spoken publicly by an NBA player about the owners’ pursuit of a hard cap, enormous salary reductions and a rollback of existing contracts. Coming from Bryant, they carried weight – both with the players and owners.

“The onus is not on us,” Bryant said. “People are trying to put that responsibility on us. It’s not our responsibility. It’s the owners’ job. This is what they do.”

Bryant’s vow to fight for players who didn’t get max deals under the current system and will likely have to accept less in a new CBA comes as a divide is forming between two camps – the paid, and the not-yet-paid. CBSSports.com has learned that players like Howard and Anthony, Chris Paul and Rose are growing wary of possibly getting shut out of the kind of max money that this past summer’s free agents scored. If owners aren’t successful in getting across-the-board rollbacks, but do negotiate a reduction in future max salaries and guarantees, the players subject to the haircut are “not going to have it,” according to an influential person involved in the players’ side of bargaining strategy.

“They’re not going to allow those guys to sneak in a year before collective bargaining and say, ‘We got paid,’” the person said. “They can’t have their cake and eat it, too. There are too many powerful players whose contracts are coming up to let that happen.”

Bryant isn’t choosing sides in that debate; he just wants a fair deal for everyone. His point was primarily directed at owners who went on a spending spree this past summer before quickly shifting gears to claim player costs must be brought down to stem hundreds of millions in annual losses. And his comments come at a time when, as on the court, Bryant perhaps senses that the bargaining game is about to get interesting. Commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher of the Lakers will hold a 2-on-2 bargaining session Thursday to ramp up the intensity of talks heading into All-Star weekend, a key time-stamp in both sides’ efforts to avoid a lockout when the current deal expires on June 30, 2011.

Bryant’s comments also represent the strongest signal of commitment from the players since multiple All-Stars made a surprise appearance at a bargaining session during All-Star weekend in Dallas last February.

“If they’re gonna pay players to perform and this that and the other, then do it,” Bryant said. “It’s not on us.”

Posted on: May 25, 2010 9:14 pm
 

Source: Phil won't return with big pay cut

PHOENIX – Phil Jackson said Tuesday he “just can’t imagine” coaching any other team next season. But the Lakers' coach refused to close the door on leaving for other opportunities, while a person with ties to him told CBSSports.com that he would not return to L.A. next season with a significant pay cut.

On reports in the past 24 hours that the Bulls and Nets have reached out to Jackson or his representatives through “backchannels,” Jackson said, “Those channels have not reached me. I have no awareness of that at all.”

But given the chance to shut down the rumors and commit to the Lakers or retirement next season, Jackson said, “I’ve always had problems committing. … I’ll leave it open and just say that, as of now, I have not made up my mind about coaching or not coaching next year. That’s all I can say, really, truthfully.”

On reports indicating the Bulls’ interest in orchestrating a reunion with Jackson in Chicago, Jackson said, “I have no, at all, desire to go back to Chicago to coach the Bulls.” As for the Nets, whose bid for Jackson would be fueled by deep-pocketed Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Jackson said, “I’d like to have a vodka with him. He seems like a very interesting young man.”

“I have not entertained any conversations about [coaching elsewhere] right now, so I just can’t imagine it,” Jackson said. “That’s not to say it’s beyond the wildest dreams or never would happen, but it’s not part of my conscious thought.”

Jackson does not have a contract for next season, and has acknowledged that he has been asked to take a pay cut from his $12 million salary. Asked if he knew what “backchannels” may have been operating on his behalf – or on behalf of the teams – Jackson said, “No I really don’t. I’m not aware of how you would go about doing that, unless you’re talking about Mark Twain stuff or Huckleberry Finn – those kind of channels rather than the river.”

Jackson, 64, got a lot of laughs for that line, but this is no laughing matter for the Lakers. While Jackson reiterated his hunch Tuesday that there’s a 90 percent chance he’ll either be coaching the Lakers next season or retiring, a person with close ties to Jackson told CBSSports.com that it’s too early to set odds. If Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss insists on a massive pay cut, the person said, Jackson would not return. Published reports have indicated that Buss is seeking to pay Jackson $5 million next season, a pay cut of $7 million.

The source close to Jackson indicated that the question of how much Jackson’s pay would be reduced is, to some degree, semantics. Given that he is close to retirement age, a significant portion of Jackson’s salary could be deferred in the form of retirement benefits that he would see without penalty in two years.

Another person with knowledge of Jackson’s situation said it would be difficult to imagine him leaving the Lakers with Kobe Bryant in the prime of his career and having just signed a three-year extension. The person equated it to overtures that frequently came Jackson’s way when he coached Michael Jordan in Chicago, saying Jackson never would’ve left Jordan in his prime, either.

But one of those sources said circumstances could change with the possibility of Jackson becoming bait to lure LeBron James to the Bulls, who have maximum salary-cap space to sign him and a quality roster that Jackson views favorably. The person said the Jackson/LeBron situation was plausible, considering Jackson would have the chance to complete a potentially irresistible trifecta – coaching Jordan and Bryant, and then capping his career with James.

All of this continued to unfold about an hour before the Lakers took the floor to play the Suns in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

“They’re no distraction,” Jackson said of the reports. “Not to me, and not to the players, either. It’s a distraction, I think, to other teams and I think a disservice to coaches that are really seeking jobs and have opportunities to go to those towns.”

Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:46 pm
 

Best NBA rivalries ever

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: December 23, 2009 2:35 pm
 

No decision on Del Negro ... yet

It was business as usual at the Bulls' practice facility in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday -- as usual as business can be when you're about to fire your coach.

Despite informing reporters that the team would not practice again until Thursday during a three-day break before the next game, some players were on the practice floor Wednesday afternoon, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. And guess who was running the practice? Vinny Del Negro.

At the time those basketballs were bouncing, no decision on Del Negro's fate had been made. But don't read too much into that; the writing is on the wall for an imminent end to Del Negro's tenure as the latest Bulls coach who flamed out around Christmastime.

"It's not a matter of if they fire Vinny," a second person familiar with the Bulls' thinking said, "but when they do it."

After the much maligned Christmas Eve firings of Tim Floyd and Scott Skiles, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf perhaps has become sensitive to playing Scrooge. That, coupled with the typical paralyzing indecision within certain factions of the organization, has conspired to leave Del Negro twisting in the wind off Lake Michigan. If Reinsdorf resists the urge to fire Del Negro during this three-day Christmas break, the next sensible window for installing an interim coach would be a two-day break between road games (Jan. 6-7) or a two-day break between a home game against Detroit and a road game at Boston (Jan. 12-13).

The way the Bulls are playing -- or not playing -- for Del Negro, that's a long time to go on like this.

That's what happens in the NBA when you try to do your coaching hire on the cheap. Del Negro is in the final year of a two-year deal that pays him less than $2 million annually. He was the consolation prize after Reinsdorf's well orchestrated interview with Mike D'Antoni when he had no intention of paying the former Suns coach the above-market rate he was about to get from the Knicks. So it goes.

In addition to having to pay off Del Negro once they fire him, the Bulls are still paying Skiles about $750,000 this season -- the result of a needless settlement with the current Bucks coach.

Multiple sources have corroborated that Del Negro's likely successor would be assistant coach Pete Myers, the ultimate company guy. In addition to replacing Michael Jordan at shooting guard after Jordan's first retirement, Myers was named interim coach in 2003 after the Bulls fired Bill Cartwright three days before Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble.

Del Negro made it past Thanksgiving, and he might even make it past Christmas. But not by much.



 

Posted on: December 4, 2009 11:03 pm
 

N-E-T-S, Nets, Nets, Nets!

To me, once the Nets had the record for worst start in NBA history at 0-18, it was time to give the national media obsession a rest. I'd be back on the Nets' bandwagon if and when they were going for the record for the longest losing streak in a single season, 23 games.

Won't be necessary.

The Nets won -- I repeat, the Nets won -- Friday night, 97-91 over the Charlotte Bobcats. And it's the Bobcats who are the story as much as the Nets are.

Losing to an 0-18 team is the latest embarrassment added to Michael Jordan's resume as a basketball executive. Bobcats coach Larry Brown, who almost three decades ago left the Nets with two weeks left in the season to take the University of Kansas job, tried to complete 11 trades during the game but was rebuffed by the league office. Then he quit to take the Fordham job, but got cold feet when he heard Rollie Massimino wanted the job.

Kiki Harris is a great coach. So is Del Vandeweghe. Or something like that. Anyway, it doesn't matter. The Nets won. The parade will be at noon Saturday along Paterson Plank Road.

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