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NBA Owners Authorize Lockout of Players in Absence of New Labor Agreement

National Basketball Association team owners authorized a lockout of the league’s 450 players if a new labor accord isn’t in place when the existing collective bargaining agreement expires tomorrow.

The 30 owners made the decision during almost five hours of meetings at a Dallas hotel yesterday, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters.

The owners’ 11-member labor-relations committee can enact the lockout when the labor accord with the National Basketball Players Association ends tomorrow night.

“The owners authorized the labor relations committee to do whatever steps were necessary to effectuate a new collective bargaining agreement and so that committee has the full authority of all 30 teams to act in whatever way they deem appropriate,” Silver said.

Further talks with the players’ union are scheduled for tomorrow, NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters. It was the union’s choice not to meet today, he said.

“I sure would like to see us make a deal,” Stern said. “Not making a deal should give everybody apprehension.”

With a work stoppage, the NBA would join the National Football League, which locked out its players in March following the expiration of a labor contract. That dispute has continued for more than three months, endangering training camps that normally would begin in late July.

Without an agreement, the league is likely to lock the players out on July 1, creating the third work stoppage in NBA history.

$4.3 Billion Revenue

The sides disagree on how to split revenue from a league that made about $4.3 billion last season. The NBA said in April that it expected to lose $300 million during the season, with 22 of the league’s 30 franchises losing money. The union agreed that owners lost money, saying that management’s estimates were inflated.

Following the owners’ most recent 10-year proposal disclosed by Stern, union Executive Director Billy Hunter said under those terms the sides would be more than $7 billion apart.

The 2010-11 season was the most-viewed in history for Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC and ESPN as well as Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s TNT, the league’s national television networks, according to the NBA. Regular-season attendance of 21.3 million was the fifth-highest in league history.

Only once, during the 1998-99 season, have NBA games been lost to a work stoppage. Following an agreement in January 1999, that season was shortened to 50 games from 82. The NBA also had an off-season lockout in 1995 that lasted from July 1 to mid- September.

To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net; Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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