Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 10:11 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Assocation met for more than seven hours in New York City on Thursday, one day after the two sides spent 15 hours working to fashion a new collective bargaining agreement. No deal was reached, but there were plenty of smiles and quips to go around.
The talks, which are expected to shift focus from system issues to the split of Basketball-Related Income, will resume on Friday morning. Talks began at 2 p.m. on Thursday and lasted past 9:30 p.m., and included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher.
"I think we're within reach, within striking distance of getting a deal," Hunter said. It's just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."
Asked if he might reveal some of the deal points, Hunter said he was not yet able to. "I'm hopeful that tomorrow we will be. Commissioner Stern is back there smiling, so I guess that's a good indication."
Stern then shouted out: "Tomorrow."
So, with this jovial mood and evident progress, why didn't talks go deep into the night?
"We've been here all day," Hunter said. "We've made little progress. I think everybody is pretty wiped out after last night. What we've decided to do is recess the process until tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. We're going to reconvene and hopefully spend as much time as we possibly need in hopes of getting a deal."
"We're working at it," Fisher said. "It's a tough process. As we move through and try to close the gap in as many places as we can, it gets tougher towards the end. Trying to be respectful to the process, not rush through it, come back later tomorrow."
"We would not have spent the time we spent here today without making some progress," Fisher added, "but as I just stated we are working through so many different issues, and we are trying to close the gap in each issue, as you try and make a move towards getting a deal done, it gets tougher towards the end. We have to continue to grind at it."
The light mood continued, for the most part, when Stern and Silver, addressed the media.
"I can't tell you we resolved anything in such a big way," Stern said, "but there's an element of continuity, familiarity and I would hope trust that would enable us to look forward to tomorrow, where we anticipate there will be some important and additional progress, or not."
Stern was asked whether he had a real and concrete idea of what a deal might look like.
He replied simply: "Yes."
Stern was asked whether he would consider it a failure if a deal is not reached in the next few days.
He replied simply: "Yes."
Both Stern and Silver made it clear that the discussion recently had been centered on system issues but would turn to the BRI split on Friday. The two issues are separate, Silver insisted, and thus not standing in the way of the other being resolved. "One goes to the overall economic health of the league, the second issues goes to competitive and parity," Silver said. "While we need to resolve both issues and both issues are critical, one is not dependent on the other."
Silver also then made a point to clarify that the system issues are not yet totally resolved.
Even so, Stern said that Friday could potentially be the deal-making day.
"There are no guarantees we will get get it done but we will give it one heck of a shot tomorrow," Stern said, "and I think that Billy and the union's negotiators feel the same way. And I know that ours do."
Click here for the latest NBA Lockout Buzz.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 1:28 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
They might stare each other down across the negotiating table, but National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter has NBA commissioner David Stern's back when it comes to allegations of racism.
Last week, Emmy-winning commentator Bryant Gumbel referred to Stern as a "modern plantation overseer" and evoked slavery in describing the ongoing NBA lockout in a nationally-televised editorial.
Hunter came to the defense of commissioner Stern on Monday in a podcast interview with ESPN.com.
"David is a hard-charger," Hunter said. "David pretty much treats everyone the same. Obviously when you've got the set up that you have, a league that is predominantly black and a group of white owners, it may take on a different color or appearance, but I don't think David is racist at all."
Hunter joined other prominent voices in the NBA community who have stood up for Stern. NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver recently called Gumbel's editorial "outrageous" while television commentator Charles Barkley said the remarks were "stupid."
He also expressed surprise that Gumbel's commentary received so much attention. "I didn't think it was going to get any traction," Hunter said. "It was Bryant Gumbel's opinion."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Gumbel's "exposed a subtext of tension" and that he "pulled the cover off a very sensitive issue." Hunter, though, made an effort to distance himself from that opinion, stating that Gumbel's accusations didn't advance the discussion.
"It's not healthy," Hunter said. "It's not healthy. It's just the nature of life in America, that's all. People make those assumptions every day. The difference is that we are on Front Street because we're very visible with professional sports, etc. People will make comments and render opinions that move their own agendas."
Asked if he considered Stern a friend, Hunter responded: "We don't socialize. We have a professional relationship, a respectful relationship. I like David. I don't dislike him as a person... The irony is, let me let you in on a secret: David and I are fraternity brothers. I was at Syracuse, he was at Rutgers but we were both members of Sammy -- Sigma Alpha Mu."
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:26 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The NBA wants you to believe something. We’re fighting for the little man. We’re sticking up for the small market team that can’t fend for itself.
That’s what Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver hammered home this week while basically announcing that the league is screwed right now.
“I know we’ve had lots of back and forth with people in this room, but we think that a team that spends $100 million on its payroll versus a team that spends $50 million is at a huge competitive advantage. It’s not a perfect one-to-one correlation, but there’s a huge competitive advantage that comes from the ability to spend more time. And there’s a reason we believe why the NFL has been so successful from a competitive standpoint with a hard cap and a reason that the NHL has been so successful from a competitive standpoint with their flex cap type system which has a hard, absolute cap at the top of the band.”
Before that, David Stern went on and on during his media blitz about how the Sacramento Kings are trying to live in a world where they spend $45 million to the Lakers $100 million. It isn’t fair. No way around it. It’s not. Historically, the trophies live in the big markets. Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles — over the past 60 years, 36 championships were won by those cities (40 if you count the four won by the Minneapolis Lakers). Four cities accounted for 60 percent of the NBA’s champions since 1950. There’s never, ever been a precedent for competitive balance in the NBA. Never has the playing field been level.
And has the league grown? Has it succeeded? Yes and yes. Most would say the top of the mountain for the NBA was the 1990s with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Or if not that, the 1980s with Magic’s Lakers battling Bird’s Celtics. Or if not that, maybe right now with the plethora of talent littered throughout the league.
This isn’t to say small markets haven’t ever won. There’s the Spurs, who have served as the beacon of hope for little guys. Except remember: When those boring Spurs were winning, that was kind of a dark time for the league. Scoring was down, ratings slipped and interest waned. That could’ve been because of a post-Jordan hangover, but the 2000s weren’t great for the league.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays in a small market, wouldn't speculate on what the league's real intentions are.
"If they're saying it, then hopefully they're trying to do it," he said after Sunday's charity game in Oklahoma City.
Which is kind of what you have to think with it. If they're saying it, then hopefully they really mean it.
But even with the league preaching that, I get the feeling it’s a red herring to divert attention away from the fact the owners are trying to squeeze the players out of a 20 percent (or so) paycut. It’s the owners’ version of “Let us play!” Preach fairness and tug at the heartstrings of small market fans to win support. All while reaching in the back pocket of the players. Preach parity and win public support. It’s a brilliant move. Maybe they mean it this time, but the league’s never really cared much for competitive balance, so why now? With proper revenue sharing, big market success often leads to more small market money. Or at least, more money and more success for the NBA. Which is what it’s really all about, right?
"I just want the fans to trust us and know that we're far from greedy," Chris Paul said following the charity game. "We just want a fair deal. We want to get out there and play more than anybody. But we understand that at the end of the day, we're the product. We're the reason the fans come and we just want a fair deal.”
The league though, says it wants to make life fair for a team like Paul's Hornets (which it happens to own, but nevermind that). The league wants to give equal opportunity to everybody not in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston. Last season's champion Mavericks? They had a payroll upwards of $90 million. That would never happen in Sacramento, Minnesota or Oklahoma City, where all the stars gathered Sunday.
The Thunder have become a poster child for parity, the beacon of hope to every struggling small market franchise. Before them were the Spurs. Even playing against the system, both teams built a perennial contenders. Why? Brilliant management, shrewd financial discipline and a good amount of luck.
Luck? Yeah, don’t deny it. OKC's general manager Sam Presti’s done wonderful work in the draft, but let’s face it: He drafted No. 2, 4 and 3 in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2007, he snagged the fifth pick in Jeff Green. Kevin Durant fell in his lap after Portland whiffed on Greg Oden. Now to Presti’s credit — and you won’t find anyone that sings his praises louder and more often than me — he’s three-for-three. Where other general managers pick duds — Hasheem Thabeet, Oden, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo — Presti has taken players that not only fit well into his roster structure, but have develop-able talent.
The Thunder thrive on rookie contracts and high-value veteran. Why? Because it’s the cheapest labor there is. There’s no coincidence that on every “underpaid NBA stars” list the Thunder register three or four players. The question is though: What happens with Serge Ibaka and James Harden? After Durant and Westbrook see their paydays, will Clay Bennett have the pockets to keep Ibaka and Harden too? If the Thunder were in Los Angeles or New York, it would happen. Will it in OKC?
Once upon a time, Geoff Petrie was Mr. Genius in Sacramento when he was rolling with Chris Webber. Kevin McHale drafted Kevin Garnett in for the Wolves and built a playoff contender. Eventually the well runs dry. At some point, Tim Duncan’s going to retire. And the Spurs will either reload or have to go through some small market pains.
(The opposite example has been the Knicks over the past decade though. Tons of money, tons of spending and tons of futility. Money doesn’t always equal wins. Management does. The league is cyclical. Sometimes your team is good, sometimes it’s not. Do the big markets have an advantage? Sure. But does it always matter? Nope. Do I like asking myself questions? Sometimes.)
But it’s worked so far in Oklahoma City. It worked in San Antonio. Which is why some are quick to wonder why it can’t work in Sacramento, Minnesota or Milwaukee. Why? Because there aren’t 10 Tim Duncans. There aren’t 10 Kevin Durants. And there sure as hell aren’t 10 Sam Prestis or R.C. Bufords. It’s the world we live in — some people are better at things than others. And when you’re better, you see success. Are organizations like the Thunder, Spurs, Wolves and Bucks at a competitive disadvantage? Sure they are. But is it a death sentence for mediocrity? Absolutely not. History says it’s harder to win, but it’s not impossible.
History also says the league doesn't really care. The league always has and always will look to do what's best for it, and its owners as a collective whole. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop put it well: “Instead, the league asks us all to celebrate competitive balance—so long as the pain of creating it is felt primarily by the players. When owners could do something real to make the league more competitive, like change the playoff format or pay Chris Paul far more on the open market, they lose interest.”
What does the league want this upcoming season? An NBA Finals featuring the Celtics and Lakers or a competitively balanced Finals with the Bucks and Kings. I think we all know the answer to that. Don't sell me on looking on for the little man, because we all know what you're really after -- getting your checkbooks competitively balanced.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 2:16 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
With his boss under attack and sidelined due to illness, the NBA's No. 2 man decided to punch back.
On Tuesday night, television commentator Bryant Gumbel aimed an editorial at NBA commissioner David Stern and his handling of the league's ongoing labor impasse, evoking words associated with slavery, on HBO's Real Sports. Gumbel's statement included calling Stern as a "modern plantation overseer" and made reference to him treating NBA players as "boys" and "hired hands." Gumbel and a vast majority of NBA players are African-American. Stern is not.
On Thursday morning, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver provided the league's first public response to Gumbel's commentary.
"I can't speak for David," Silver said. "And only a personal comment: I thought it was outrageous."
Silver made that brief statement following the NBA's Board of Governors meeting on Thursday morning. Stern was originally scheduled to speak but was sidelined due to the flu.
The New York Post reported that Stern declined comment on Gumbel's statement on Wednesday and noted that Stern has served as an NAACP board member.
The USA Today reported that television commentator and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley didn't think much of Gumbel's remarks.
"I thought they were stupid," Barkley said. "Disrespectful to black people who went through slavery. When (you're talking about) guys who make $5 million a year."
Here's video of Silver's comment on Bryant Gumbel's editorial against David Stern.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 5:31 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Billionaires and millions holding the sport of basketball hostage. Yes, it's enough to make you ill.
It's enough to make NBA commissioner David Stern sick too, apparently.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver met with reports in New York City on Thursday to inform them that Stern is sick with the flu and was not able to attend an NBA Board of Governors meeting and will likely not be able to attend Thursday afternoon labor negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association either.
"I'm sure David's flu was not helped, his symptoms were not helped by the fact that we had several late nights this week," Silver said. "It's been a long week for anybody, but particularly with our Board of Governors meetings and the negotiations, I think he just got a little bit worn down. He's still very active in this process and I'm sure he will be addressing our committe by conference call."
Silver said he and Stern remain in constant contact.
"He's still actively working at home, my Blackberry is buzzing on my waist as I sit here," Silver said. "Most likely [he] will not be here at the bargaining session this afternoon. But, like I said, we will be fully engaged in the committee, led by Peter Holt. He will be an active participant even though he will not be there in person."
Reports surfaced on Wednesday evening that some progress had finally been in the labor negotiations during the 24 hours of negotiations that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here's video of Silver's remarks.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:37 am
Posted by Royce Young
The NBA's mindgames in these labor negotiations have really gone to another level. Because now Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is praising Derek Fisher and zinging his boss, David Stern. I don't even know where I am right now.
Via the New York Times, Silver was talking about Fisher as the union president and said this:
“In the well over 30 bargaining sessions, I cannot remember a single incident where he raised his voice. And, just a reminder — David Stern is in the room.”
Stern probably gave a coy smile when he heard this Silver quote and said something to the effect of, "Me, raise my voice? No way." But certainly credit to Fisher for that. Because like Silver said, Fisher's bargained with Stern some 30 times. Dwyane Wade did one time and (reportedly) got into a shouting match with The David.
It's interesting though because Fisher has become the face for the players instead of Billy Hunter. Which is opposite of the NFL. DeMaurice Smith was on the forefront for the NFLPA. So much that I have no idea who the player president is. That's how Hunter wanted it. He wanted Fisher up front.
“I told him, ‘I think I’m going to let you take the lead on a lot of this,’” Hunter told the TImes. “Over a year ago, well before the lockout, I pushed him forward. I’d say, ‘Rather than you stand around, you should be the one out in front.’ And he’s been doing a great job.”
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 2:03 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association concluded more than seven hours of meetings on Monday in New York City without reaching an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement. As such, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that NBA commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season, spanning from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14.
Berger reports that Stern said that a "gulf" still separates the owners and players in their negotiations and that the two sides are "very, very far apart on virtually all issues."
Stern also confirmed that the cancellation of the first two weeks will prevent an 82-game regular season. In other words, there isn't sufficient time available later in the calendar to make up the cancelled games.
There are currently no further talks scheduled, Stern said, but the sides will continue to communicate.
Stern was joined in Monday's negotiations by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and a number of owners and legal advisers. The NBPA was represented by president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, among others.
Berger reported that league officials saw a number of sticking points, including: "contract length, length of CBA, use of exceptions by [luxury] tax-paying teams and [the luxury] tax levels and the frequency of the [luxury] tax." Those are all significant issues that will require extended negotiation to resolve.
Fisher mostly stuck to what has become his mantra in recent weeks. "I continue to believe that we've been more than fair and reasonable in our approach," he said. "This is what we anticipated would happen, and here we are."
He also admitted the pain of lost salary will be felt by his constituency. "Obviously not a good feeling for anyone, " Fisher said."This is not just about dollars and cents for players. It's about a system for our guys to operate under."
Hunter maintained that the lost income will not shake the players' solidarity. "Unfortunately, maybe we need to miss a few games for them to know there's resolve among the players," he said, according to Berger.
The NBA issued the following press release on Monday evening to formally announce the cancellation.
Earlier Monday, the NBPA launched a Twitter campaign called "Let us play," hoping to curry public favor and maintain solidarity amongst its ranks.
Monday's meeting was an extension of last-ditch talks that began Sunday afternoon. Stern set Monday as the deadline for cancelling the first two weeks of the season when talks broke down on Tuesday of last week.
This post will update with the latest on the NBA lockout.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:54 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Earlier Friday, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association could not agree to meet prior to Monday, the deadline commissioner David Stern has set for cancelling the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 regular season.
Berger reported that an NBPA source said that the NBA would only agree to meet if the union agreed to accept a 50-50 split of Basketball-Related Income. The NBPA felt it could not go through with a meeting given that major pre-condition.
The New York Times reports that NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the NBA was not willing to negotiate past the 50-50 BRI split but said the league was willing to discuss other subjects, such as system issues.
An NBA spokesperson returned the finger-pointing in a statement to CBSSports.com and other media: "We told the union today that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday. We also advised them we were unwilling to move above the 50-50 split of revenues that was discussed between the parties on Tuesday but that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the many remaining open issues. The union declined."
The posturing on both sides here is clear.
For the players, agreeing to meet to discuss only portions of the deal would effectively allow the owners to take the lead on setting the agenda, and that's a big no-no, because it sends a message to the average player that the union's leadership is weak and not on equal footing. To agree to take a stand, the average player has to feel he's standing on firm ground, not a sand dune.
For the league, the refusal to budge on the 50/50 split accomplishes two goals. First, it continues to perpetuate the idea that the talks are stalling because the players are refusing to accept a "fair" 50/50 split, catering to public opinion and applying pressure on the NBPA to re-think its refusal to budget on its formal desire for 53 percent of the BRI. Second, it sends a message to any rank-and-file player who might be eager to get back to work. That message is: "We'll give you 50/50 and if you're OK with that, great, just let your union leadership know."
This latest impasse wastes valuable time and will likely lead to both sides digging in deeper for the time being. Once the deadline to "save the full season" is passed, the two sides will need to regenerate an urgency factor, or we could all be waiting for awhile.