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Mediator says “no useful purpose” to continue labor talks

Oct 20, 2011, 9:26 PM EDT

Federal mediator George Cohen addresses the media in New York Reuters

The reviews of federal mediator George Cohen from both sides out of the 30 hours of NBA labor negotiations this week were positive. They said he was able to take the emotions out of the talks, made progress on smaller issues and tried to build momentum to big ones.

Then it all blew apart today, and Cohen basically threw up his hands and walked out of the room.

He was a lot more kind than that officially, but read his statement below and tell me that’s not what you take away from it.

“As a follow up to the NBA’s and NBA Players Association agreeing to my invitation to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS, three days of mediation have taken place. During this period, a wide variety of issues were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner, consistent with what one would expect to take place in a constructive collective bargaining setting.

“Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues.

“In these circumstances, after carefully reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered judgment of myself and Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, who has been engaged with me throughout this process, that no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time. For our part, the Agency has advised the parties that we will be willing and prepared to continue to facilitate any future discussions upon their mutual request.”

In other words: “We give up, you’re on your own.”

Which is bad, bad news for NBA fans.

  1. alligatorsnapper - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    It is always a good thing to send them back to their homes and/or constituents and take a break from the negotiations. After a few days out of the pressure and a chance for people they trust to have an oppotunity to bend their ears, they might return to the negotiations with new perspectives.

    • kappy32 - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:14 AM

      Constituents? Which players or owners also serve as elected officials as well? That’s what constituents are; the people who live in the district you are elected to represent.

      • Kurt Helin - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        Constituencies do not just apply to politicians. Fisher was elected as president of the union by the players. Holt was elected head of negotiations committee by the owners. Hunter and Stern keep their jobs by keeping the owners and players happy. Those are constituencies.

  2. barklikeadog - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    Thank goodness! Who else hopes they lose the whole damn season?

  3. dcipher80 - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    I want as many games as can be salvaged after a system is in place that gets us closer to parity. That is all.

  4. stevenfbrackett - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Does this surprise anyone at all? The owners have been opening planning to have a lockout since before last season and have made it clear they are willing to cancel the entire season or more to get their way.

    Is it any wonder at all the players don’t trust them at all? Why should they?

  5. denverdude7 - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    Mediator says “no useful purpose” to continue labor talks.

    There never really was a “useful purpose” to continue the labor talks.

    The NBA lost control of their own sport the very moment Wade, Bosh & Bron-Bron pulled their crap.

    Their actions turned basketball into a farce. The only way basketball can survive is a hard salary cap that applies to all teams equally with no exceptions and a contraction of at least 6 teams to better distribute top level talent.

    People in small markets have tired of watching their teams be a non-factor year after year and are simply changing the channel. Major League Baseball is guilty of the same thing.

    The NBA owners should continue their hard line stance even if it means the loss of several seasons. The players should not be the ones to control a sport they are merely employees of.

  6. bobdira - Oct 21, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    NBA lost me when the game became a one on one game. College BBall is much more entertaining and pure in the sense of team basketball. Fixing the financials associated with the game won’t fix the game. It’s lost forever.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      Actually, there is a lot more one-on-one and a lot more standing around in college. Watch closely, it’s not a better team game.

  7. hoosierdude - Oct 21, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    ” Hardliners represent at least a large enough majority on both sides right now all that we see is a couple days of meetings, then the two sides get pissed at each other, storm out of the room and don’t talk for a few days. Well, they talk to the media — as if either side could win the PR war — but not to each other.”

    Sounds like they’ve been taking lessons from Congress.

  8. florida727 - Oct 21, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    “denverdude” is dead-on accurate. The players need to realize they are nothing but ’employees’ of the owners. The owners take all the risk, pay all the taxes, manage the ‘business’, etc. Try going to your employer today and demanding ‘x’ percentage of all business-related income. You’d be collecting an unemployment check tomorrow. The players have no leverage… and they know it. Sorry, Billy Hunter. You’re useless. Accept what’s being offered or pretty soon all ‘your players’ will realize what little value you are, and YOU will be unemployed too.

  9. laphil66 - Oct 21, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    So the owners made zero concessions and are willing to cancel the season to avoid doing so. The players have offered something like $200million in concessions.
    The owners in the smaller markets want to be protected from the bad contracts they have signed. And the owners contend that revenue-sharing is none of the players’ business and that the small market income stream must be supplemented by player give-backs.
    If the owners shut down the season, the union can take the nuclear option and de-certify and the owners can deal with the players individually.
    How much for LeBron and Wade to sign with New York?
    How about a WBA(World Basketball League)?

  10. chief0727 - Oct 21, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    I’m just wondering where in fact these “concessions” made by the players came from? Last time I checked, the players received 57% of BRI under the terms of the prior CBA. That CBA expired. There is no current CBA. Consequesntly, there are no “concessions” to be made. With no current binding CBA, the players get 0% BRI. What we have here is the negotiation of a “NEW” CBA. The 53% BRI split requested by the players is a NEGOTIATION PROPOSAL, not a concession. If we are to believe what we read, the owners proposed a hard salary cap; 53%/47% BRI Split (owners 53%); and no guaranteed contracts. The players proposed 53%/47% BRI Split )players 53%); no hard salary cap; and guaranteed contracts. The owners have countered with a 50%/50% BRI Split, NO hard cap; and players can continue to have guaranteed contracts. The players have said “no thank you” and have repeated their original proposal of 53%/47% BRI Split )players 53%); no hard salary cap; and guaranteed contracts. Sounds to me like its the players who are not lowering their proposals and not negotiating in good faith. ,

  11. jbraxton3rd - Oct 21, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Cancel the season. Let’s see how much sympathy fans will show….

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