The start of the National Basketball Association season, and maybe more, could be at stake when the league meets with players in two days and possibly into the weekend, according to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
The top negotiators for the NBA and National Basketball Players Association met for the second straight day today at a Manhattan hotel, where they talked for about four hours and decided to meet again Sept. 30 with both the owners’ full labor-relations committee and the union’s complete executive committee. The meetings also could stretch into the weekend, with the regular season scheduled to start Nov. 1.
“There are enormous consequences at play here,” Stern told reporters. “I’m focused on let’s get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season. That’s what’s at risk this weekend.”
Adam Silver, the league’s deputy commissioner, said the decision to invite the broader group of players and owners was made because “whatever decisions we are now going to be making would be so monumental given the point of the calendar.”
“It would be hard to characterize us as having made progress today,” Silver also told reporters. “I guess it’s always progress to the extent that we’re still talking.”
Union President Derek Fisher said no formal proposals were made.
“I can’t say that common ground is evident,” Fisher told reporters.
Fisher also said that some of the league’s key players would be invited to the talks on Sept. 30.
Wade Supports Union
Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, who was not at the negotiations but was in Manhattan, said he is prepared to sacrifice the NBA season to preserve the future of the game for players, and that union Executive Director Billy Hunter understands that message and has the players’ support.
“A lot of us have been in meetings, and I think for us we’ve walked away from those meetings with the same feeling that we had when we walked in the door,” Wade said in an interview with Bloomberg Television when asked why high-profile players haven’t played a bigger role in negotiations. “If they’re not listening, if their backs are turned when we’re talking, then what’s the point of that?”
Owners of the league’s 30 teams locked out players when the previous agreement expired on July 1. They since have postponed the start of training camps and 43 preseason games through Oct. 15.
The league had about $4.3 billion in revenue last season. Stern says teams collectively lost about $300 million last season.