NBA, NBPA Talks Break Down; Fisher Blasts Owners

Despite three consecutive days of labor meetings, the league and players union failed to agree on a framework for the new CBA. The sides met for nearly 30 hours in the past three days, but the gathering today broke off after the parties could not agree on the basketball related income split. Although the owners told the media that the union came off its 53% of BRI and went down to 52.5%, Billy Hunter offered a rebuttal and said the league told the players that it will only meet again if a 50-50 split was agreed upon.

KBergCBS: “Holt told union that owners wouldn’t talk about the system unless players agreed to 50-50, Hunter said. “Take it or leave it.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern did not attend the meeting due to the flu, but Adam Silver and Peter Holt took charge in today’s talks. They were the first to speak to the reporters and talked about how they are staying firm at 50%, for now. When asked if the league would never go above 50-50 split,  Holt said, “As of today, that’s true. But in negotiation, you never say never.”

NBA fans had some sign of optimism when Deputy Commissioner Silver and union Chief Billy Hunter said some progress was made over the past couple of days. However, strides to close the gap between the parties were the results of compromises on small issues, not big ones like the split and luxury tax. Silver said he came into the meeting more optimistic than before, but that sense of hope vanished after the sides could not find a way to bridge their economic gap.

The groups have not scheduled anymore labor meetings as of today, but based on previous pressers, the sides could in fact gather again soon. However, there is no guarantee to that and they could return to the negotiating tables in several weeks.

Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler offered his explanation for the sudden lack of harmony between the sides. According to Kessler, the meeting was “hijacked” and the the Board of Governors meeting played a major role in the unsuccessful session. The league and union were making strides toward a new CBA, but the owners meeting changed the entire situation.

More bad news for NBA fans came when federal mediator George Cohen decided to no longer assist the groups in trying to solve their issues. It seems as though Cohen understands he cannot end this NBA lockout.

Based on the facial expression and tone of voice during the press conferences, particularly those of Derek Fisher’s, the sides are extremely far apart. This may have been the worst day of negotiating and the most depressing day up to this point in the lockout. Fisher accused the league of lying about the facts, and there was anger in his voice.

Nevertheless, the Lakers guard commented on how this work stoppage affects millions of fans across the world and the workers at various NBA arenas.

To sum up this day in one sentence, the sides are still debating over the BRI split and they both need to sacrifice a lot in order to sign a new CBA.

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