Bloomberg News

NBA, Players Meet With Mediator for 16 Hours; More Talks Today

October 19, 2011

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association and its players union negotiated for 16 hours without resolution under the supervision of a federal mediator, and will return this morning for more labor talks.

The two sides began discussions yesterday at 10 a.m. New York time and the talks concluded at 2 this morning, more than doubling the previous longest bargaining session during the lockout now in its 111th day.

After an eight-hour break, the two sides will meet again at 10 a.m. at a midtown Manhattan hotel.

“The mediator has asked both sides to refrain from commenting,” Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, told reporters following the day of negotiations under the supervision of federal mediator George Cohen. “Both sides have agreed.”

Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, is overseeing the talks between the full negotiating committees of the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

It has now been nine days since NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season -- which was scheduled to begin Nov. 1 -- and said he believed it was no longer possible to fit in a full 82-game schedule.

The only other time NBA games were canceled was during the 1998-99 season, when the sides reached a deal in early January 1999 and a 50-game season began in early February.

Stern said in a televised interview last week that, “If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday.”

“And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us,” Stern told NBA TV.

Board of Governors

Now it’s Wednesday, and the two sides still are discussing how to split money from a league that had about $4.3 billion in revenue last season, as well as what type of system the league will operate under. Stern has said the league’s 30 teams collectively lost at least $300 million in each of the last three seasons.

The NBA’s owners were scheduled to begin Board of Governors committee meetings today and then have a full session tomorrow. It’s unclear how long the mediated negotiations with Cohen will last.

The National Football League locked out players in March after negotiations overseen by Cohen in Washington failed to yield an agreement on how to divide about $9 billion in revenue. The NFL was able to save its entire season by coming to an agreement in July. Cohen helped broker a labor accord for Major League Soccer in 2010.

--Editor: Rob Gloster

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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