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NBA lockout: Marathon negotiating sessions overdue

October 19, 2011 |  7:36 am

David Stern

The clock ticked for what felt like an eternity. 

The NBA owners and players met with federal regulator George Cohen for the first time in a group session Tuesday, and the exhaustion appeared evident after the 16-hour session. Roger Mason Jr., the vice president of the NBA Players Assn., tweeted, "Been a loong day, finally heading to sleep." During the meeting, reporters came up with humurous reasons why the lockout ended poorly. NBA league officials indicated both sides agreed not to comment on the proceedings and that meetings would resume again Wednesday morning.

The good news: neither party walked out of Tuesday's talks, and the dialogue seems civil enough that it can continue its course. The bad news: the NBA hasn't reached a new collective bargaining agreement. So it's hard to really determine what Tuesday's session meant. But this much remains clear: Why did it take nearly 3 1/2 months before both sides would have this kind of marathon session?

No matter how much both sides lament the financial losses from canceling the first two weeks of the regular NBA season, it's irresponsible they didn't burn the midnight oil often this off-season. Instead, no one had any formal negotiations for more than a month after the July 1 lockout, and the only prolonged discussions took place last week as they tried salvaging the full 82-game season.

Both the owners and players union would probably say they would have been open to earlier negotiating sessions if only the other party had agreed to it. Such talks also wouldn't have guaranteed progress. But they certainly could have helped bridge the wide gaps that remain on such issues as basketball-related income (BRI) allocation, hard salary caps, the luxury tax and guaranteed contracts.

Instead, we saw both sides stalling and taking their time, behaving like college students do when they have to write a term paper. But by waiting until the last minute, they have already needlessly delayed the start of the season and perhaps beyond.


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--Mark Medina

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Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern. Credit: Louis Lanzano / Associated Press