Hey look, it's David Stern saying the same stuff, only in a different decade. These comments and actions may continue to look familiar in the near future, so remember these types of pieces and flashbacks as the road ahead won't get any smoother. Tim Povtak at it again as we got to hear more from Magic players representative Danny Schayes. Only 6 NBA owners were in New York for the sitdown, and Magic owner Rich DeVos wasn't one of them.
Negotiations between NBA owners and the players' union took a turn for the worse Thursday, increasing the chances that the start of the 1998-99 season could be delayed.
The owners and Commissioner David Stern terminated the latest bargaining session prematurely Thursday after receiving the union's latest proposal and what they called an ``insulting and patronizing'' lecture by the players' legal counsel.
In New York, the two sides met for the first time in 45 days, trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement and end the lockout, which suspended all NBA business, including the signing of free agents and the payment of salary teams contractually owe players for the 1998-99 season.
``This was a setback in the bargaining process. I'm less optimistic today,'' NBA Commissioner David Stern said. ``What started out as a good session in the morning turned very disappointing after lunch. We are just not on the same wavelength.''
No follow-up talks were scheduled, and the two sides remain far apart on the most critical financial issues.
The league wants to lower the percentage of basketball-related income that is paid out to the players in salary and benefits, slowing the escalation of salaries. It also wants a salary cap that is considerably less flexible.
The union wants to raise the percentage of income paid out to players (last season it was 57 percent), leaving the salary cap more open-ended.
Stern left Thursday's session believing that the players' union is determined not to make any concessions until two lawsuits it has filed against the league are resolved.
The union has appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, believing the current lockout is illegal. The union also has gone to court, hoping to force the owners to resume paying on guaranteed contracts, even without a new collective bargaining agreement.
The owners have proposed one deal that would guarantee that the league's average salary would rise from the current $2.6 million to $3.1 million. The players have rejected it because the proposal includes a ``hard'' salary cap with few loopholes.
The players Thursday made a proposal that included raising their percentage of revenues beyond 60 percent, leaving the salary cap with plenty of exceptions.
``I think they intended for their proposal to be insulting,'' Stern said. ``And then to have their attorney lecture the owners on what a grave risk they are taking if they don't accept the latest proposal, that's not negotiating. At that point, it was best to end the meeting and separate the parties.''
Among those at the meeting Thursday were a dozen players, including Orlando Magic center Danny Schayes.
``It got a little ugly at the end, but that's typical at this stage of negotiations,'' Schayes said. ``Both sides are sticking to their primary positions, and as long as that's the case, nothing will get done. It's too early, though, to be worried.''
The meeting was the first since June 22, when talks broke off after only 30 minutes. The owners imposed a lockout eight days later. The afternoon session lasted only about an hour before the owners abruptly halted it after the lecture by the union attorney.
``They just got up and walked out,'' said Billy Hunter, union director. ``It seemed more feigned than anything else. It looked like a charade.''
There were six owners at the meeting, although the Magic were not represented on that side of the table.