National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern was sent home with the flu from owners’ meetings today and likely won’t attend a third straight day of federally mediated labor negotiations this afternoon.
“He was sent home this morning by his doctor,” Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said at a news conference. “He’s still actively working at home.”
Today marks the 45th negotiating session between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association since they began discussing a new collective bargaining agreement two years ago, Silver said. With the league Board of Governors meeting concluded, they’ll return to the bargaining table this afternoon at a different Manhattan hotel. The two sides negotiated for more than 24 hours in about a 32-hour period over the past three days.
“His symptoms were not helped by the fact that we had several late nights this week,” Silver said of the 69-year-old commissioner. “I think he just got a little worn down.”
Silver, the NBA’s lead negotiator, declined to address details relating to the labor talks because both sides have agreed to a gag order imposed by federal mediator George Cohen.
The topics discussed during the Board of Governors meeting included revenue sharing; presentations by New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov on the status of the new Barclays Center and New York Knicks owner Jim Dolan on the renovation of Madison Square Garden; and an update on the Sacramento Kings’ arena project.
Silver said that the league’s revenue-sharing plan can’t be completed until the collective bargaining agreement is finished because the final economic split between the owners and players affects it.
“We’re looking to roughly triple the amount of money that we distribute among our teams,” Silver said. “We’re looking at a number roughly around $150 million.”
The talks will continue today under the direction of Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
“He brings a certain wisdom to the process and my sense is that both sides have enormous respect for him,” Silver said. “He’s caused all of us to take a fresh look at some of our positions.”
While neither side has spoken publicly this week about the negotiations, the owners did formally propose a 50-50 split of basketball-related income with the players during the mediation, the New York Times reported, citing multiple unidentified people involved in the talks. The proposal would give the players --who made 57 percent in the previous deal -- as much as 51 percent or as little as 49 percent depending on league revenue, the newspaper said. Union Executive Director Billy Hunter said players were offering 53 percent in their most recent proposal.
The NBA had about $4.3 billion in revenue last season and Stern has said the league’s 30 teams lost $300 million during that period.
It’s been 112 days since the players were locked out on July 1. The first two weeks of the season, scheduled to start Nov. 1, already have been canceled and Stern suggested in recent interviews that more games were in jeopardy if a deal wasn’t reached this week.
“I don’t think it required these sessions or this mediator to create a sense of urgency among both the owners and the players,” Silver said. “Owners want to play. At the same time, we want to ensure that we accomplish what we set out to accomplish.”
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