Posted on: October 15, 2011 2:48 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 3:00 am

Mayors write letter urging NBA labor compromise

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Mayors are usually only good for riding in the back of convertibles during parades, promising to lower taxes and lock up sex offenders, and dramatically cutting ribbon with oversized scissors, so it came as a pleasant surprise this week when a group of them decided to nudge their way into the ongoing NBA lockout.

WISHTV.com reports that 14 mayors from NBA cities addressed a joint letter to commissioner David Stern and National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter requesting that the two sides work to salvage a season and to end the lockout as quickly as possible.

The letter can be read here. The following is an excerpt.
Unfortunately, lost in the debate over a new NBA collective bargaining agreement, has been the perspective of those very residents and the negative impact a cancelled season might have on them, our cities and our local economies.

We know the issues being discussed between NBA owners and players are complex and need to be addressed to ensure the long-term wellbeing of the league. We are not interested in taking a side. The United States Conference of Mayors has always maintained impartiality in major leagues sports negotiations.

Rather, we respectfully ask that you consider the consequences to our cities should the lockout continue. We ask that you work quickly to find a way to compromise so that we might salvage the upcoming NBA season. 
As WISHTV.com notes, the letter is written without taking a side in the dispute. The goal is compromise for both sides, not victory for one or the other. Among the undersigned include Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an All-Star guard for the Phoenix Suns in the 1990s, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, an All-Star guard for the Pistons in the 1960s and 1970s.

The big question here is whether this letter will influence the negotiations. The answer is no, not at all, but at least they tried.

On Monday, Stern announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of the league's regular season. Previously, he cancelled the entire preseason schedule and postponed the start of training camp. Stern said Thursday that if a deal cannot be reached by Tuesday, Oct. 10, that the league's annual Christmas Day games could be in jeopardy.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 7:42 pm

JaVale McGee: Some NBA players 'ready to fold'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The National Basketball Players Association held a regional meeting in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon to discuss the state of the ongoing labor negotiations with the NBA. The early word was not exactly on message.

SI.com reports that Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee left the media early to attend another engagement, noting: "There's definitely some guys in there saying that they're ready to fold, but the majority are willing to stand strong."

On Thursday, Fisher wrote on Twitter that the meeting was "important" and noted that "all players including rookies [were] welcome."

Despite that plea, SlamOnline.com reported that McGee estimated that the number of attendees was "about 25 to 30," fewer than the number who attended the NBPA's most recent regional meeting, held in Las Vegas back in September.  

"Everybody knows we've got to get more people to come to the meetings," McGee said, according to SI.com.

Shortly after multiple sources independently reported McGee's comments, he posted the following message on Twitter: "I never said anyone is ready to fold! Media always wanna turn it!"

Within an hour, the Los Angeles Times posted audio of McGee's comments, confirming that he did make the statement.

The NBPA's meeting is taking place one day after NBA commissioner David Stern began a media blitz that included an attack on NBPA executive director Billy Hunter, who he said has been inaccurately representing the NBA's offer to rank-and-file players.

Check back later for further updates from the NBPA's labor meeting in Los Angeles.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:15 pm

David Stern blames agents, Hunter for media blitz

Posted by Ben Golliverdavid-stern

After weeks of "no comments" or limited remarks following unsuccessful labor negotiation meetings, NBA commissioner David Stern has launched an all-out media offensive over the last 24 hours, appearing on numerous radio shows and NBA TV to give his side of the story.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the key quotes from Thursday, in which Stern offers up an important new deadline, questions whether the NBA will be able to play on Christmas and lays out ownership's position on damn everything.

There was one obvious question left unasked: Why is Stern talking now?

The Dan Patrick Show asked that question in a Friday morning interview. Stern wasted no time blaming NBA agents and National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter for his own media blitz. 

"We decided it was time to do it because of the circumstances that we find ourselves in," Stern said. "The union has been buffeted by the agents, who literally don't want there to be a union. Why? As [agent] Arn Tellem has said, it's bad for the superstars that he represents. And, oh by the way, the union regulates agents and what they can charge. So of course the agents don't want a union. That causes [NBPA president] Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter to send out letters to the membership, denouncing the agents for trying to change the deal. And it causes them to become more strident, it causes them to say things that are not exactly the way things went down. We have to move out there to correct the record."

Stern didn't bother obscuring the underlying motive of his public campaign: influencing player sentiment.

"I think the players, if the rank-and-file truly understood the dynamic of the negotiations, they would have a completely different picture," Stern said. "And they would say, 'Let's get back to work.'"

The commissioner stopped short of calling Hunter a liar but did say he was responsible for perpetuating what Stern feels is an "inaccurate" representation of the negotiations and the proposals made by the league's owners.

"I think it's fair to say that [Hunter's] depiction of our motives, our offers, the state of the negotiations is inaccurate."
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:55 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:03 am

Billy Hunter: Labor deal could get done in hours?

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter

On Thursday, NBA commissioner David Stern declared that a labor deal with the National Basketball Players Association must be reached by next Tuesday, when the two sides will convene with a federal mediator, or a significant portion of the NBA season, including the league's Christmas Day games, would be put at risk. For those of us who have watched the league's labor negotiations plod along with little progress in the formal offers from the two sides, a drop-dead date of Tuesday with no meetings scheduled prior to that date sounds like a very, very bad thing.

Responding to Stern's comments, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter told Yahoo Sports that a lack of time really isn't the key issue. In fact, Hunter said that the framework of a new agreement could be arranged lickety-split, assuming the two sides could actually agree on the major issues that separate their proposals.
“It’s not an issue of time. It’s an issue of will. If you are in a room and you want to make a deal and there are three major issues that are holding you up, if you can come to a compromise on those three areas than you have a makings of a deal. It’s not a nature of time. We can go in and do a deal if they want to go in and do a deal. We can do a deal in an hour, two hours if we can agree to the major terms. And after that you got to work on everything else. Everything else will fall in place.”
That sounds awful promising, at least until Hunter goes on to describe his belief that the owners are taking an "extreme position" and accuses them of failing to negotiate in good faith.

 “David Stern told me three years ago – and I keep reiterating that because people keep pulling up their cup on it – that they were going to lock out [the players] in order to get what it was they wanted. And what he’s done is done that. [Stern] said he was going to lock out [the players] and his owners were prepared to lock out to get what they wanted. It’s driven pretty much by the small-market teams... He’s stated an extreme position from the get go and he’s negotiated that way. So here we are.

“We’ve been negotiating for almost three years, and here we are at the 12th hour when all of the sudden they make a slight move. But then on top of that, they then decide that they want a hard cap. So then when you get close to the economics of the number, then they get close to the system. And they know that the system is very important. If we give on the economics, we are not going to give on the system. And so all of the sudden you reach a possible agreement on the economics and now the system becomes a problem. So it’s like a moving target."

Whether Hunter meant to or not, he presents the current state of negotiations as the exact scenario where a mediator would be most helpful. Hunter's account clearly states that the two sides know where each other stand. His account clearly states that his side is willing to give but not totally concede. His account acknowledges some movement by the opposing party and the need for more. And, more than anything, it confirms that recent talks haven't been particularly fruitful because of miscommunication, intentional or otherwise.

A neutral third-party could very well help organize the conversation, clarify the agenda items, and cut through the unnecessary, emotional, personal or petty arguments that might arise during a negotiation that involves billions of dollars, massive egos and competing agendas. If what Hunter says is true, that the 2011-2012 NBA season could be saved in a mere matter of hours if things break right, then Tuesday's mediation session truly is a promising step. If the problem here is the quality of the conversation rather than the quantity of the conversation, it would be a fool's errand to repeat this negotiation's past mistakes without trying to shake up the process.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 9:36 pm

Charles Barkley to donate salary during lockout?

Posted by Ben Gollivercharles-barkley

The NBA can be a nepotistic, incestuous place, with former players finding themselves -- or their family members -- jobs as coaches, assistant coaches, team executives, league executives, team ambassadors, and, of course, commentators.

That final occupation is where basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has made a fabulous second career, carving out a niche as the league's most popular and recognizable television voice on TNT.

The high-visibility position and the respect Barkley has around the league gives him a unique perch during the ongoing labor negotiations. Barkley has predicted for months that the NBA and its players will be unable to resolve their ongoing labor negotiations in time to save the 2011-2012 season and it sounds like he isn't totally comfortable where he is sitting right now.

ESPNChicago.com reports that Barkley recently told a Chicago-area radio station that he is considering donating his salary to charity during the lockout.

"I haven't told anybody, but I'm actually -- believe it or not -- I'm leaning toward donating it to charity," Barkley said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I don't think it's cool for me to take money I haven't earned.

"My decision is either going to be defer it or give it to charity."

"The problem I have is if these guys hold out all season, it's going to be a lot of money," Barkley said."That's why I have to make that decision. I haven't made the final decision. I don't feel comfortable taking money for not working. I'll either defer it or give it to charity."

To be clear, Barkley is not framing this as a solidarity move with the current players. He's not saying: "I won't make money off of their labor struggle" or "I won't get paid until they get paid."  

Instead, he's simply saying: "TNT wouldn't be getting their money's worth from me and that's not cool." That's a whole different stand to take. Less labor union cruasader and more old-school pride and practicality. It makes you think that if players like Eddy Curry or owners like Robert Sarver looked at their performance in the same way, we might not be up such a creek with regard to the labor negotiations.

But in the world of guaranteed contracts and billionaires requesting bailouts, Barkley's sentiment is rare indeed. If he truly doesn't feel comfortable depositing the checks, charity is the right call. I'm not sure that anyone would lose respect for Barkley if he simply kept his money, but no one in their right mind, in this economy, could find fault with the generous gesture that he is contemplating.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:18 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:51 pm

NBPA launches 'Let us play' Twitter campaign

Posted by Ben Golliver


With labor negotiations continuing and the possibility that the NBA cancels the first two weeks of its 2011-2012 regular season on Monday, National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher called on his union's members to show their solidarity and to appeal to public sentiment by launching a campaign on Twitter.

Fisher explained the concept in a letter to all players that was obtained by SI.com.
Chris Paul and I will also be utilizing our personal social networking channels to show the fans and you all, that we are united and want to get back to work under a fair deal. On Monday, Chris and I will tweet and post "LET US PLAY." This was used by the NFL players and many will be joining us on Monday and retweeting the same message to show their support for our players. I will also be using the hash tag #StandUnited after all my messages until this lockout is over. We invite you each to do the same. To show our unity and to remind the fans that this is not our choice and we would like to go back to work and play the game they love to support.
Within hours, the message had been tweeted out by Fisher, Paul, Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, Heat All-Star forward LeBron James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant. Among the many other NBA players to participate: Jarrett Jack, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Marquis Daniels, Eric Maynor, Devin Ebanks, Nazr Mohammed, Serge Ibaka, and Anthony Tolliver.

By early Monday afternoon, the phrase "LET US PLAY" was trending nationally in the United States on the social networking site.

Many players also posted messages pointing out that the NBA's current labor impasse is the result of a lockout by the league's owners rather than a strike by the league's players.

Back in January, the National Football Players Association launched a similar campaign in the midst of their labor negotiations with the NFL.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:54 pm

NBA: We would have negotiated system issues

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

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.  

Adam Silver, the N.B.A.’s deputy commissioner, confirmed that the owners are standing firm at 50-50, although he disagreed with the union’s portrayal of events.

“What we told the union was that we were not prepared to negotiate over the B.R.I. split beyond the 50-50 concept that had already been discussed,” Silver said, referring to the N.B.A.’s acronym for basketball-related income.

Silver added, however, that the league was “prepared to continue negotiating over the many other issues that remain open” — such as the salary-cap system, the luxury tax and the length of contracts.

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.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:55 pm

No NBA labor deal, next meeting 'months' away?

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The National Basketbal Association and the National Basketball Players Association met for more than four hours in New York City on Tuesday, in what had been hailed as the most important day of negotiations to date, and emerged aroung 5:30 p.m. without an agreement.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that NBPA president Derek Fisher announced: "Intense discussions today ... today was not the day for us to get this done."

NBA commissioner David Stern said that the league's 2011-2012 schedule will be affected by the lack of progress in the negotiations: "Today we will be announcing the cancellation of the rest of the exhibition season and by Monday we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season."

Fisher said no further meetings have yet been scheduled. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said it could be "a month or two months" before the next round of meetings.

Fisher said that the players offered to reduce their share of Basketball-Relate Income from 57 percent to 53 percent but were still unable to negotiate a deal that was "fair and amenable" to the players, as the owners reportedly offered only to increase their offer to the players from 46 percent to 47 percent. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the players' concessions amounted to more than $200 million per year. 

"We are employees and the NBA are the employers," Fisher said. "And they hold the key to when the lockout will be over."

Hunter said that, given the circumstances, the NBPA would reconsider the idea of decertification: "Clearly that's something we may have to give some thought to." While the players wait, NBA.com reports that Hunter says the NBPA will set up and fund workout centers in Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles that will remain open until a labor agreement is reached.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, and NBPA board members Matt Bonner, Maurice Evans, Keyon Dooling, Theo Ratliff, and Roger Mason, Jr. were all in attendance at the press conference Tuesday.

This post will update with the latest on the NBA lockout.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com