NBA, Players Return to Bargaining Table

National Basketball Association and players’ union officials returned to labor talks with a federal mediator after a 16-hour session ended early today without an agreement.

The talks at a New York hotel began yesterday at 10 a.m. and ended around 2 this morning. The full negotiating committees for both the league and the National Basketball Players Association returned today after an eight-hour break.

The league’s owners are in New York this week for Board of Governors meetings. The group’s planning committee, which oversees revenue sharing, was scheduled to meet this afternoon but will instead convene this evening so the negotiations can continue, Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, told reporters.

The first session led by George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, more than doubled the previous longest bargaining meeting during the lockout, now in its 111th day.

“The mediator has asked both sides to refrain from commenting,” Bass said as the two sides took their break. “Both sides have agreed.”

It has been nine days since NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season -- which was scheduled to begin Nov. 1 -- and said he believed it was no longer possible to fit in a full 82-game schedule.

The only other time NBA games were canceled was during the 1998-99 season, when the sides reached a deal in early January 1999 and a 50-game season began in early February.

Breakthrough Time

Stern said in a televised interview last week that, “If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday.”

“And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us,” Stern told NBA TV.

Now it’s Wednesday, and the two sides still are discussing how to split money from a league that had about $4.3 billion in revenue last season, as well as what type of salary-cap system the league will operate under. Stern has said the league’s 30 teams collectively lost at least $300 million in each of the last three seasons.

The National Football League locked out players in March after negotiations overseen by Cohen in Washington failed to yield an agreement on how to divide about $9 billion in revenue. The NFL was able to save its entire season by coming to an agreement in July. Cohen helped broker a labor accord for Major League Soccer in 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: 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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