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Tag:David Stern
Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:07 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 1:51 am

NBA-NBPA talks pass deadline; still no deal

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for roughly 12 hours on Wednesday in New York City -- blowing past a 5 p.m. deadline imposed by commissioner David Stern -- and emerged at 1 a.m. Thursday morning to inform the assembled media that they still have not yet reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Ken Berger of reported that "no deal" was reached.

"We've agreed that we have stopped the clock and we continue to negotiate," Stern told reporters after the negotiating session concluded. "I would not read into this optimism or pessimism, we're just continuing to negotiate."

Talks will resume on Thursday at noon Eastern, Stern said.

Wednesday's talks, which began at 1 p.m., were the first since Saturday, when Stern imposed his deadline, telling the NBPA that the league's offer would get significantly worse if it was not accepted. Following an NBPA meeting on Tuesday, NBPA president Derek Fisher signaled a willingness to re-open negotiations and apparently was ready to accept the league's proposal on the all-important revenue split if the owners would include desired changes to system issues in their offer.

Following Wednesday's talks, both the NBA and NBPA addressed the media.

"Nothing was worked out today," Stern said. "We're not failing and we're not succeeding, we're just there."

Asked why the league has not reverted to its threat of a worse offer yet, Stern said it was still a possibility, although it would only occur after the current bargaining session was over.

"It was our understanding going in, at the end of the negotiating session, whether it ends today or it ends tomorrow, that's when our offer reverts," Stern said. "We're trying to demostrate our good faith and I think the union is trying to demonstrate its good faith."

"We've obviously been here for quite some today," Fisher said. "We spent a lot of time covering all of the issues that we still have remaining but we can't say that there was significant progress today, but we're going to meet again tomorrow... to see if we can continue to make the effort to try to finish this out."

Fisher was asked to comment on the NBPA's decision to concede a 50/50 revenue split -- down from the 57 percent the NBPA had in the previous deal -- in hopes that it would lead to the NBA improving its offer on system issues.

"I think what we stated yesterday was an openness and a willingness to come off our number," Fisher said, "and come closer to a deal on the economics and we would be willing to move on a lot of system issues that we expect from them. We never actually said '50/50 and give us the entire system.' What we've continued to say is that if we continue to make economic concessions on the BRI split, in exchange for that there should be more flexibility from the NBA and the league on the system and that continues to be our belief." 

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter specifically said that the BRI issue still remains unresolved and that no progress had been made on Wednesday in resolving specific system issues that continue to separate the two sides.

"Not today, no," Hunter said. "We are still discussing those issues along with a litany of other issues. I think that's part of the problem. There are just so many issues that haven't been resolved, it's pretty copious."

The chatter throughout the day on Wednesday took an optimistic turn. Berger reported that there is "growing optimism in the agent and front-office community that a deal will get done. One person briefed on talks [was] 'incredibly optimistic.'" Berger quoted another person familar with the negotiations who said talks were "moving slowly" and that the sides were "trying to get something done," but noted that progress has been "slow" even though there have been "no blow-ups."

The ongoing NBA lockout has now lasted for 132 days.

Here's video of Stern's comments.

Here's video of Fisher's comments.

Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 9:01 pm

NBA Labor Buzz: Latest Updates

By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver

It's the latest "Judgment Day" in the NBA, and it looks like this one will actually have a substantial impact. To keep up with all the develoments, check back here. We'll have links to breaking content, updates on the "whip count" of players who say they want a deal, and updates from Ken Berger in New York at the meeting scheduled for today. 

Wednesday 8:30p.m.

Nearly eight hours into the negotiations, we are getting our first indication at how Wednesday's meetings are going.
  • Ken Berger of reports: "a person briefed on talks says they are 'moving slowly. They're trying to get something done.' There've been "no blowups," the source said. Progress is slow, but the effort to reach an agreement is there. As far as tangible progress? Another person directly involved wouldn't characterize it that way. Effort and progress are different issues."
  • Yahoo Sports reports that "the NBA and NBPA have made significant progress Wednesday night toward reaching a deal," citing "two sources briefed on talks."
  • reports: "One pessimistic GM told me he hears that good progress is being made...still, he's only cautiously optimistic."
  • reports: "There is an interesting level of optimism among the NBA executive ranks regarding tonight's talks and how this night will end. Even some agents who don't necessarily want a deal tonight are of the mind that one will be done."
Wednesday 5:00 p.m.
  • We are still alive. Talks continue. How u.

Wednesday 4:55 p.m.
  • We're about 12 minutes away from the 5 p.m. deadline imposed by David Stern on a deal before the owners retracted to the "Cap Reset" offer. But the New York Times,'s Ken Berger, and other analysts are in agreement that the deadline is irrelevant as long as talks are ongoing. The deadline is effectively extended until after the negotiating session ends. If they get a deal, it's not needed. If they don't, then it'll either go into effect or it will have been a total bluff if they continue to negotiate over coming days. So the wait continues. 

Wednesday 3:15 p.m.

Ken Berger of emailed this in:

As of 3 p.m. ET, here's how I see the storylines taking shape:

* The players wisely turned the ultimatum back on the owners by signaling a willingness to agree on the economics of the proposal -- a 50-50 split that would transfer $330 million a year to the owners, or $3.3 billion over 10 years.

* The pressure is now on the owners to make the few system concessions that the players need to shake hands on a deal and sell it to the membership.

* Is there a but? Oh, theres always a but. In this case, there are several. Allow me to shatter your optimism and list them:

1) But league negotiators have long insisted that, even if the players conceded every penny of their $300 million in annual losses, it still wouldn't be enough because that would merely make the NBA a break-even business as a whole.

2) But the league feels it needs major system changes -- especially a harder luxury-tax line -- to flatten out the payroll disparity and make the product better so it can grow its way out of zero-profit mode. That is why deputy commisssioner Adam Silver has said repeatedly that the two issues are separate. Presumably, so that when the league finally gets all its economic concessions, it can continue to push for more on the system.

3) But the players haven't even missed a paycheck yet. (The first ones would've been set to be cut Nov. 16). If they haven't lost a dime yet, and are already at 50 percent of BRI, how much further would they go? An inquiring owner may ask himself such a question.

The real question is, as it always has been: How much of a victory do the owners want/need, and how do they balance that against the collateral damage of lost games AND the chaos that would ensue if the players began the decertication process with no deal Wednesday. The uncertainty -- both legally and timing-wise -- that would come with a failure to compromise at this point could outweigh the desire to get more concessions from the players. There is a risk-reward construct here, and it's a serious one, with a big downside.

Not the least which is the fact that you, the fans, are informed about what the players have conceded in the negotiations and that the owners would be trifling with the game over a few system issues when they've already won on the economics in a landslide to the tune of $3.3 billion. Not even David Stern could successfully spin that one.

Remember, though. All of this didn't dawn on the league and the owners in the past 24 hours. They've been planning for all of these contingencies -- including the possibility of the union dissolving and instigating a long, uncertain antitrust battle.

When is enough enough? A case can be made that today is the day, and a case can be made that it isn't.

Wednesday 2:25 p.m.
  • What about the one-and-done age limit rule? Yahoo! Sports reports, "Many keep asking about 'one-and-done' draft rule. It's on B-list of issues they'll get to once/if economic-system points are agreed on."
Wednesday 1:42 p.m.
  • The meetings started on time at 1 p.m. according to Ken Berger of
Wednesday 1:04 p.m.
  • reports: "I think there is a real possibility lockout ends today, as I've been convinced owners will give on some system issues in exchange for BRI."
Wednesday 12:31 p.m.
  • Bill Simmons of and Grantland reports the owners are split 16-13 on the 50/50 deal (with New Orleans being held by the league and essentially able to be used for whatever they want). Simmons says he is "99.9999" percent sure (after an update, so apparently that .0001 percent was off) that the teams who do not want the deal and want to cancel the season to get the strictest deal possible are Washington, Denver, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Utah. 
  • That would leave Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Miami, Toronto, Dallas, New Jersey, Cleveland (in a change of heart, first reported by Ken Berger of, Phoenix (same), Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, San Antonio, Houston, Golden State and the Clippers with New Orleans as the other presumed vote in favor of the deal. So essentially, if two teams flip and they use New Orleans as the other, the deal could get busted. 
  • SBNation's Tom Ziller points out that the Maloofs would need to support Stern as he's likely to protect their ownership and wishes for relocation against an ownership group that voted against their move last year. 
  • Our own Royce Young in OKC says regarding the Thunder: "From what I understand, OKC's willing to go with the flow, but ultimately, wants basketball back as soon as possible. The Thunder's terrified about this lockout doing long-term damage to the fanbase."
Wednesday 12 p.m.
  • David Stern reportedly has permission to move on the systemic concessions the union has requested in order to agree to a deal with 50/50 BRI split. The degree of movement will determine whether a deal is struck. We are not optimistic. 
  • Head of the labor relations committee Spurs owner Peter Holt will join Adam Silver, David Stern, and the NBA's legal staff. 
Posted on: November 9, 2011 11:39 am

Report: Owners have support on movement

By Matt Moore

Yahoo! Sports reports that David Stern has the support of ownership in aggregate to make concessions on systemic issues in order to secure a deal with the NBPA today and end the lockout. From Yahoo!: 
NBA commissioner David Stern has the authority to make minor system alterations to the owners’ latest labor offer to the players to try to complete a collective bargaining agreement and end the lockout, ownership sources told Yahoo! Sports.

“There can be a few things tweaked along the edges, the periphery and this can be agreed upon,” one ownership source told Yahoo! Sports. “I’m confident that would not be an issue if [Stern] did that.”“It will be a very slight budge,” one high-ranking management source said.
via Sources: Stern authorized to tweak offer - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

What this means, essentially, is you as fans are being set up for another banana-in-the-tailpipe.  

Each time we've had a situation that indicated one side would concede if the other side budged, and the other side was willing to budge, things have blown up. This is how simple this gets:

  • The two sides are at the one-inch line. The things they're arguing over systemically are non-factors. The sign-and-trade for teams in the tax? It's happened three times according to Ken Berger. The extend-and-trade? That's all based off of Carmelo Anthony. The MLE? It's something teams that elect to be in the tax need in order to improve their teams.
  • Players needs the owners to concede on those issues which aren't important to the owners. The owners have indicated as above that they're willing to conced at least a little on those. 
  • There is no rational reason for a deal to fall apart. 
  • Therefore, a deal will fall apart. 

We've seen this time and time again. Sorry if you're looking for optimism, we're all sold-out here. The two sides have not exhibited rational approaches throughout this process. And the hard-line owners may be out-voted right now, but if the league goes to far with what it offers, they'll regain advantage and detonate a handshake deal. On the other end of it, if the players give up too much and the group lead by Paul Pierce react violently, they could decertify and blow up a handshake deal. So even if we get a deal, we may not get a deal.

That's where we're at. There's every reason to think the season will be saved by 5 p.m. today.

So naturally, it's time to abandon all hope, ye who enjoy the NBA.  
Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:19 pm

Labor talks set for Wednesday in New York, 1 p.m.

By Matt Moore 

Ken Berger of reports that players and league officials are close to arranging a meeting for Wednesday at 1 p.m. in New York, with a league-imposed deadline that could spell the end of the season looming at the end of the day. The meeting is reportedly only a small group, which has resulted in progress in the talks in other meetings.

Tuesday, the NBPA met and afterwards described the current offer from the league, which expires at the close of business in less than seven hours, as "unacceptable." After the close of business, the league's offer will revert back to a flex-cap offer that eliminates guaranteed contracts, takes years off of contract max-lengths and generally sends the players' strength back to the stone age. During the press conference after the NBPA meeting, Billy Hunter said he wanted to meet with the league. David Stern responded by saying he would always take Hunter's call, and would discuss it with the NBA's Labor Relations Committee, but would not commit to a meeting.

Hard-line owners don't necessarily want a meeting, feeling they have already surrendered too much in negotiations.  Meanwhile, the players have intimated they're willing to drop to 50/50 if certain system concessions are granted. Unfortunately, the owners consider "concessions" to be defined by "letting the world have a proffessional basketball league" and "not going after the players' houses and personal possessions." 

If a deal isn't made at the meeting, and the NBA decides to follow through on its threat, the NBPA is set to immediately file a petition to decertify (Paul Pierce has told Billy Hunter he has close to 200 signatures at this point), kicking off the legal process. That would pretty much destroy any chance of a season, though the two sides could continue to negotiate through the 45-day waiting period until the NLRB rules on the petition to set up a vote. 

The onus is on the NBA to take a meeting and accept the concessions from the players while offering them some sort of bone to save the season. Otherwise they're electing to own a professional basketball league that doesn't actually play basketball for another year, possibly more.

No pressure, guys. Really. Take your time.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 1:25 am

Kessler: NBPA treated 'like plantation workers'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Here we go again.

Months after television commentator Bryant Gumbel sparked a national controversy by referring to NBA commissioner David Stern as a "modern plantation overseer" -- a comment that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter distanced himself from -- union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler has taken to invoking slavery during the most critical stage of the league's ongoing labor negotiations.

The Washington Post reports that Kessler, like Gumbel before him, made referenece to a "plantation" in a criticism of the NBA's bargaining strategy.

“To present that in the context of ‘take it or leave it,’ in our view, that is not good faith,” Kessler, who also represented the NFL players in their labor dispute with the NFL, said in a telephone interview Monday night. “Instead of treating the players like partners, they’re treating them like plantation workers.”

Kessler's comments, the paper reports, led Stern to call him the "single most divisive force in our negotiations." They are, by far, the harshest criticism levied at Stern by someone affiliated with the NBPA during these ongoing labor negotiations and they represent a stark contrast to Hunter's more subdued response to Gumbel's similar attack on Stern. 

Back in October, Gumbel said that Stern "has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys." He also referred to Stern's opinion of the players as "hired hands."

Gumbel's controversial comments sparked a round of responses almost immediately given that a vast majority of NBA owners are caucasian while a vast majority of NBA players are African-Americans. Shortly after Gumbel's comments were made, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that they were "outrageous." Hunter said that, while Stern is a "hard-charger" in negotiations, he is not racist "at all." Basketball Hall of Famer and TNT commentator Charles Barkley simply called Gumbel's comments "stupid." The Reverend Jesse Jackson warned such talk could make these negotiations take an ugly turn.

Coincidentally on Tuesday, Stern was asked in an interview for his thoughts on Gumbel's comments. "I think that’s just an occupational hazard," Stern said. "If you're the head of the league you take what everyone dishes out."

The Sporting News notes this is not his first explosion. He has recently accused Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen of "hijacking" negotiations and he recently called the NBA's offer to players a "fraud."
Posted on: November 8, 2011 7:17 pm

Stern won't commit to new meeting Wednesday

By Matt Moore 

Tuesday after the NBPA met with its team representatives and stated the current offer from the league is unacceptable in advance of the league's threat to withdraw to a significantly worse offer Wednesday at close of business, Billy Hunter signalled a desire to meet with David Stern and NBA officials for a further negotiating session in advance of the deadline. 

On NBATV Tuesday night, David Stern would not committee to a new meeting with Hunter, but said he would take Hunter's call and would consult with the NBA Labor Relations committee regarding further action.

"I always take Billy's call, as a sign of respect," Stern said. 

When asked about the players' willingness to drop on the cut of BRI again in return for more systemic concessions from the league, Stern said there was no "wiggle room" to be found from the owners since their last offer Sunday morning at 3 a.m.

Stern defended accusations from Derek Fisher that the current proposal is a "bad deal" by discussing that the elements included were first proposed by federal mediator George Cohen. Stern admitted that if a deal is not struck by end of business Wednesday, at which point the owners' so-called "Cap Reset" plan goes into effect, he would be "losing confidence" that a deal could be reached to save the season.

In response to Hunter's statement that he had heard through "underground sources" that the league was considering canceling games through Christmas if there was no deal reached Wednesday, Stern laughed off the suggestion.

"I don't know what ground he's talking about or under what ground he's looking," Stern said. "But we have no such plan. We need 30 days from the end of negotiations."

Stern revealed little in the interview outside of what we already know. The owners feel they've given all they can, the players don't think it's enough, and the league is prepared to swing the hammer on Wednesday. It's a game of chicken and the seemingly inevitable collision will be the loss of teh 2010-2011 season. 
Posted on: November 8, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 7:23 pm

Hunter: League could cancel Christmas games Thurs

By Matt Moore 

After the NBPA met Tuesday afternoon, Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher addressed the media. While spinning the tale that the union is united in opposing acceptance of the current proposal offered by the NBA (which, if you track our Buzz post, is not the case at all), Hunter dropped a little bit of a bomb. Hunter said that he heard through "underground" sources that if there is no deal by the league's stated deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the NBA will cancel games through Christmas. 

That's right, it's finally here. The NBA lockout is going to steal Christmas.

It's not surprising, considering the ominous tones David Stern has been giving off for the past month. The league has been cancelling in two-week segments, but with Wednesday's deadline signalling a dramatic turn, whether it's the owners moving back to a much harder deal the players obviously won't accept without more lost games, or the union decertifiying in response to such a move, getting a deal by the end of the month would be nearly impossible. What is most alarming is that signals A. what the union has alleged all along, that the NBA is ready, willing, and in some cases eager to lose the entire season, and they're lopping off larger chunks and B. That's the last milestone we'll likely see before the cancellation of the entire 2010-2011 season. Most analysts have predicted that the league would be forced to sacrifice the entire season somewhere between January 1st and January 15th.

NBA Labor
So if a deal can't be made Wednesday, it's possible the last batch of games before a complete cancellation will be made, and one of the NBA's biggest batch of games will be lost to a lockout that will have sacrificed two whole months of games.

If you're looking for good news... uh... college basketball started? 

Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:51 pm

Stern on Gumbel: 'It's an occupational hazard'

Posted by Royce Young

I would think that when David Stern heard that Bryant Gumbel called him a "plantation overseer" that he wasn't thrilled about it. Just a hunch.

But when it happened, that was when Stern would out with the flu and so Adam Silver was forced to be the one to respond to it. Silver simply called it "outrageous." We never really heard from Stern on it.

Stern was on ESPN Radio New York Tuesday doing another Lockout Media Tour and the question was asked to him what he thought of Gumbel's comments. And Stern basically let it roll right off his back.
“On Bryant Gumbel I think that’s just an occupational hazard. If you’re the head of the league you take what everyone dishes out. With respect to the players, what I tell them is I have been working for 27 years and this partnership that we have had and will have after this ends will continue to, you know continue to grow the game globally, we will continue to have a huge digitally footprint, we will continue to make them stars of international magnitude but I understand when passion is running high and the well has been poisoned by people telling them the owners are lying to them, the owners are greedy, the owners are arrogant and none of that is true by the way.

(Host: They haven’t been saying that just about the owners. They have been saying that about you.) I guess what I’m saying is if I’m leading the way for the owners that’s what they’re going to say about me too. I must tell you the good job that I’d like to think I’ve done for the NBA only works if it’s good for the owners, the players, and the fans. We’ve had a heck of a run. I feel pretty good about the fact that we’re coming off a great season, there’s a continued interest, the demise of our league was premature, and we have a spectacular product which is brought to you by the spectacular players of the NBA. When we settle this it will continue to be brought to you that way.”
"Occupational hazard." What a way of putting it. And he's right. When you're the man at the front of it all, you take the brunt of everything. The criticism, the praise, the downright mean comments -- it's all coming at you. And Stern's always been great at handling it.

Gumbel came with strong words. He wanted to make a splash. He wanted to catch attention. Stern could've called him out on it, but instead, he lets it roll off with a simple description of it just being part of the job.
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