Labor Pains; NBA and Player’s union Officials Met For 4 Hours On Friday

Friday’s meeting between the NBA and representatives from the player union lasted 4 hours. By all indications the two sides are still millions of dollars apart. At best you can hope they extend the deadline. The current CBA expires July 1st at midnight est.

The Omni Berkshire Hotel in New York was the meeting location. Players showed up wearing tan NBPA T-shirts with the word, “STAND” printed on the front. The bargaining session included various player representatives who previously had only been briefed by union officials and executive committee members on the progress – or lack thereof – in negotiations.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett of the Celtics, among the most vocal players in the room Friday and the players who devised the T-shirt idea, were driven away in a black SUV with executive committee member Theo Ratliff. In the meeting, Pierce accused the owners of taking a disingenuous stance by disguising their insistence on slashing salaries under the cloak of creating a new system that would allow more teams to be competitive.

“Is it more about money or being competitive?” Pierce said to the owners, according to Suns player rep Jared Dudley. “What does this have to do with? If it’s about being competitive, let’s come up with a system we can all be competitive in. If it’s about money, that’s a different story that we’re talking about.”

Tuesday, the owners will have their own meeting in Dallas. The primary purpose of the meetings is for the labor relations committee – featuring  big-market representatives like the Knicks’ James Dolan and Lakers’ Jeanie Buss and small-market owners such as the Thunder’s Clay Bennett and Spurs’ Peter Holt, who also serves as committee chairman – to update representatives from all 30 teams about the state of negotiations. The owners’ planning committee will also update the board on the status of a new revenue sharing plan.

The players and union officials have tried to get the owners to include their revenue-sharing plan as part of the new CBA, saying competitive balance could be improved through sharing more revenue – such as gate receipts and local broadcast revenues – without trying to solve the league’s stated annual losses of at least $300 million strictly through salary reductions.

Stern’s position on that is, if we lose money on an aggregate basis, we can’t possibly revenue-share our way to profitability. But, enhancing the sharing of revenue as a way to help small-market teams compete is a sensitive subject between high- and low-revenue teams that continues to divide the owners.

Bottom line, the two sides need to figure something out so that no games are lost. The NBA’s popularity is on an upswing right now. Record ratings for the playoffs and finals. Even a weak draft had a spike in viewers. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to lost that momentum. Get the deal done!