Probably the most overstated annoying line in sports history, 'it's not about the money.' When someone says that, we know it's mostly about the $$$. Povtak provides us with a correlation between 13 years ago and today, the two sides couldn't agree on anything. Economic or not, the union and owners just couldn't find middle ground on countless issues. The same standoffish type of negotiating is going on currently. At least both sides this summer have not been denying the fact that revenue is the massive wedge between them. Your eyes will also focus on our new least favorite word, 'progress'. Long sit-downs mean nothing if you don't compromise.
It's not for a lack of trying that the NBA still isn't close to a collective bargaining agreement.
Negotiating teams for the owners and players met again Tuesday, turning the focus to the non-economic issues, yet still they struggled to find much common ground.
``We talked about a lot of different things,'' said Jeffrey Mishkin, NBA attorney and lead negotiator for the owners on Tuesday. ``But I can't say we made a lot of progress.''
The session followed an eight-hour meeting between the two sides Monday that produced some scattered optimism but little concrete progress that could help end this four-month stalemate.
``The biggest stumbling block remains what it's always been, and that's trying to agree on an economic system that both sides regard as fair,'' Mishkin said. ``So far, we've been unable to do that.''
NBA Commissioner David Stern wasn't at Tuesday's bargaining session. He was addressing the NBA's annual Board of Governors meeting that concludes this afternoon.
Full-scale bargaining will resume today. Up to 100 players and most owners are expected to attend as talks return to the major economic issues.
``I can assure you this will be one of the more focused board meetings that we've ever had,'' said Magic President Bob Vander Weide, who was joined by owner Rich DeVos in New York.
Unless some surprising progress is made in negotiations, Stern is expected to cancel more regular-season games today, wiping out all of November and the first part of the December schedule. The league already canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.
``I think the mood is the most right that it has ever been to make a deal,'' Magic center Danny Schayes said after Tuesday's meeting. ``I'd say there's been some progress made, but it's hard to judge how much. We still have miles and miles to go.''
Among the issues discussed Tuesday for the first time were the league's drug policy, the power of the commissioner to levy heavier fines and how to deal with players who refuse to report after a trade.
Both sides have agreed to add marijuana to the list of banned substances, although the players don't want the punishment to be as stiff as it is for cocaine or heroin possession. The owners want to begin regular drug testing of veterans for the first time, although the players are against it.
The owners want to add required off-season conditioning programs to a player's contractual obligations. They also want the league to deal more harshly with players who are convicted of crimes ranging from firearms possession to alcohol-related offenses.
Billy Hunter, executive director of the union, agreed with Mishkin's opinion that little was accomplished during Tuesday's four-hour session.
``We thought maybe if we took a break from the economic issues that maybe we could make some progress,'' Hunter said. ``Maybe not. I guess Danny [Schayes) had a little different interpretation of the meeting. I expected a lot more.''