NBA union disputes it canceled labor talks

Players Association officials disputed NBA commissioner David Stern’s contention that the union canceled a scheduled negotiating session Wednesday with the league.

Union sources said the players didn’t have a meeting scheduled with Stern and his negotiating team.

“The NBA refused to have a staff meeting [Thursday],” a union official said. “Billy Hunter has been with the [National Labor Relations Board] the entire week, including Thursday, and the NBPA was told that Stern would be completely unavailable to meet for the next two weeks.”

The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Stern said the players had canceled negotiations scheduled for Wednesday. Stern also told the Globe he thinks the union and league will eventually reach an agreement to keep the 2011-12 season from being canceled.

“I would say that we have very smart players who recognize that this system is very good to them,” Stern told the Globe. “You got 13 players on a roster averaging $5 million apiece – that’s $65 million – and what the owners have said is, ‘We’re going to try very hard as we reset this thing to keep you as close to that number as we can.’

“At a time when the NFL, which is usually profitable as opposed to the NBA, which isn’t, got the double-digit [revenue] reductions from their players. Our players will understand that when the rhetoric stops, and they will understand that the owners are trying to do the right thing and our players always try to do the right thing.”

If the two sides don’t reach agreement on a new labor contract, Stern told the Globe, “the alternative is very destructive.”

“It’s destructive of $2 billion worth of player salaries and it’s destructive most important to our fans of the game,” Stern said. “And if it spirals badly, everyone gets hurt. But in some ways I worry because the players have more to lose, especially those in the later stages of their career. So we’re going to do everything when can when the rhetoric slows down to get this thing back on track.”

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Adrian Wojnarowski is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Adrian a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Aug 11, 2011