David Stern Updates Labor Talks and More
The 2011 NBA Finals are underway, but just prior to tip off, NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the media horde to discuss a number of important topics. Here are the highlights of Stern’s press conference:
"The Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Detroit Pistons to a group led by Tom Gores," Stern said. "We expect the deal to close this week. It’s very important to us, because we think Tom will bring renewed vigor and energy to that great franchise. And he’s really very anxious to get going. I spoke to him earlier today on my way here. And that’s a very good development for the Detroit Pistons and the good fans of Detroit."
With a potential lockout looming, Stern scheduled several bargaining sessions between players and owners.
"Finally, with all this great news, we all know that we have a collective bargaining agreement expiring on June 30th," Stern said. "And I guess I would say to you that it’s going to be a challenge to the NBA owners and the union to reach the right deal so that this success that we’re having can continue, and the challenge is to do it before the expiration of the current agreement on June 30th.
"To that end, I have scheduled, together with Billy Hunter, Adam Silver and Peter Holt, the chairman of our labor relations committee, full blown bargaining session for tomorrow here in Miami, and two full days next week in Dallas," he added. "The question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the tack that it is on now, which is straight up."
"Last week we had what we called a small group meeting with a couple of owners and just a couple of players, a few players. Tomorrow we’re bringing in all members of the executive committee who could make it from the union side and all members of the labor relations committee are able to make it from our side. So there’s going to be a large group gathering, both tomorrow and next week. "
"The reason we’re scheduling the meeting tomorrow, we told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach."
Stern was asked about the NBPA’s decision to file an unfair labor practice charge and responded:
"As a matter of fact, we learned about the unfair labor practice charge on our way to a negotiating session last week in which they were delivering to us some ideas, and then we agreed to schedule meetings for tomorrow and next week. So I think that’s a part of the challenge, really, whether we’re going to be bold enough to negotiate as opposed to posture."
As the Miami Heat were taking the floor for shoot around, Stern was asked if a hard cap may force a team with multiple superstars to have to shred a contract. After a long pause, he replied:
"That’s part of the negotiation. There are all kinds of negotiations that go on in these things between teams that have different roster make ups, between teams and among teams that gross different amounts generally when it comes to revenue sharing, and on the other side, amongst players who have different economic interests and deals. This is very complex. It’s going to involve a lot of working together with the union, with the full confidence of both the players and the owners that if there’s a will, we’ll be able to work all those issues out."
Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that the two sides have not discussed a possible extension of the July 1 deadline as of yet.
"There’s been no consideration of that yet," Silver said. "There have been times historically where we have had deadlines of existing collective bargaining agreements and have entered into moratoriums while negotiations were progressing. But we’re not at that point yet where we’ve even considered doing that here."
Stern discussed the possibility of determining the league’s Most Valuable Player after the postseason concludes.
"It’s an idea that should get some traction," Stern said. "I have no particular opinion on it one way or the other. And the worst answer I can give you is the truth, it’s always been done this way. That doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. It’s something we would consider if there was any momentum for it amongst the Competition Committee, our ownership. It’s something we can always consider for next season."
When asked if he’s concerned with the "colluding" that goes into forming the NBA’s recent super-friend teams, Stern laughed.
"I don’t consider it colluding," he said. "You mean saying to a friend, wouldn’t it be great to play together and then going that way? It doesn’t get my juices going."
The topic of Mark Cuban and his recent silence came up. Stern buried his head into his hands, laughed and replied:
"It’s too delicious, but I’ll pass. I just think that he’s trying to be as supportive as he can of his team. He’s doing a heck of a job in terms of the talent that they’ve gotten, the coach he’s put there and I think he’s enjoying it and spending a lot of time supporting his team. And I think that’s terrific," Stern said with a smile.
Look for more from the 2011 NBA Finals throughout the week.