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NBA labor talks remain at an impasse

In the first negotiating session between owners and players since the lockout started July 1, there was no movement on any contested points.

August 01, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • NBA Players Assn. President Derek Fisher leads union chief Billy Hunter, left, and Lakers teammate Theo Ratliff toward the hotel for negotiations with NBA leaders.
NBA Players Assn. President Derek Fisher leads union chief Billy Hunter,… (Mary Altaffer / Associated…)

The summer of NBA labor unrest was interrupted for a brief negotiating session in New York before returning to regular programming.

It was the first such meeting between NBA owners and players since the lockout started July 1, and Monday's session fell just short of the three-hour mark. This is the NBA's first labor stoppage since a long dispute cut the 1998-99 season to a 50-game regular season.

On Monday, the sides were in agreement on one point: There was no movement on any contested points.

And that was about it. Afterward, the rhetoric cranked up a couple of notches, another expected byproduct of labor talks. One reporter asked NBA Commissioner David Stern whether the players were negotiating in good faith.

"I would say not," Stern told reporters.

Then he walked away.

Before that salvo, Stern said he was not "optimistic" about "the players' willingness to engage in a serious way."

Previously, the owners said they want to drastically reduce the players' 57% share of basketball revenue in the last contract to 50% and impose a stronger salary cap, whereas the players earlier offered to drop their share to 54.3%.

On hand for the negotiating session, in addition to Stern and his deputy Adam Silver, were team owners Peter Holt (San Antonio) and Glen Taylor (Minnesota). Taylor is chairman of the Board of Governors and Holt is the head of the league's labor relations committee.

There was a significant Lakers presence from National Basketball Players Assn. president Derek Fisher and vice president Theo Ratliff. They were accompanied by executive director Billy Hunter and lawyers from the players association.

Fisher had his own take on the owners' behavior.

"It's a tough position to be in," Fisher told reporters after the meeting. "I think Peter [Holt], Glen Taylor, Commissioner Stern, Adam Silver are articulating certain things in the room, expressing their desire to get a deal done, but where their proposal lies makes it hard to believe."

Apparently the pace of negotiations will increase. That should not be difficult considering that it was limited to about three hours in the first month of the lockout.

With the looming prospect that the regular-season schedule will be disrupted, the sides spoke about scheduling future meetings in August, perhaps on back-to-back days. The NBA regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1, and the Lakers' first preseason game is Oct. 9 and the Clippers Oct. 11.

Fisher also said, regarding decertification, that the union was not yet "circling the wagons."

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