National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern and players’ union Executive Director Billy Hunter will meet today in Miami as they bid to keep the league from becoming the second U.S. sport with a work stoppage.
“We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach,” Stern told reporters in Miami last night. The comment referenced LeBron James’s announcement on a nationally televised show in July that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.
The first talks in about two weeks between the top officials at the league and union show a sense of urgency ahead of the June 30 expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement. Officials previously announced a pair of bargaining sessions for June 7 and 8 in Dallas, site of Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals between the Heat and Mavericks.
“The question is whether the owners and players will be bold enough to do what has to be done,” Stern said before Miami defeated Dallas 92-84 in the opening game of the best-of-seven series last night.
The league’s most recent contract proposal included a strict $45 million limit on what teams can spend on payroll. The existing accord has what’s called a soft cap, which allows teams to spend beyond the limit. Hunter has said the players vehemently oppose a hard salary cap, which is used in the National Football League and National Hockey League.
The NBA hasn’t given any consideration to extending the June 30 deadline, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said yesterday in an interview.
$275 Million Loss
Stern has said teams lost a collective $275 million this season and that the new system must provide for well-managed clubs to be able to compete for a championship and make a profit.
NFL owners in March locked out players in a dispute over how to share more than $9 billion in annual revenue.
NBA owners locked out players during the 1998-99 season, when regular-season games were missed for the first time in league history.
The union last week filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NBA, saying the league made “harsh, inflexible and grossly regressing ‘takeaway’ demands.” The league said it complies with federal labor laws.
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