Following NBA commissioner David Stern's first meeting with the players association since the lockout began on July 1, both sides remained as far apart as they were when the day began, according to CBSSports.com. As if that news weren't bad enough, revelations Tuesday morning may have strained matters even more.
"I don't feel optimistic about the players' willingness to engage in a serious way," Stern told reporters on Monday. Asked if he felt the National Basketball Players Assocation was negotiating in good faith, Stern added, "I would say not."
The NBPA had already issued a grievance to the National Labor Relations Board, lobbing the same allegations towards the league's owners in hopes that a federal judge could reinstate the collective bargaining agreement from the past five seasons, CBSSports.com reported.
Stern's comments foreshadowed the NBA filing two claims against the NBPA on Tuesday morning: a similar charge to the NLBR and a federal lawsuit. A press release on the NBA.com website reads: "The unfair labor practice charge asserts that the players association has failed to bargain in good faith by virtue of its unlawful threats to commence a sham 'decertification' and an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA's lockout. The federal lawsuit seeks to establish, among other things, that the NBA's lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws and that if the Players Association's 'decertification' were found to be lawful, all existing players contracts would become void and unforceable."
"These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," said NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith."
While the owners claim they have steadily backed off their initial proposal of a 33 percent pay cut that would decrease player salaries from $2.1 billion to $1.4 billion, the players -- led by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher -- claim their proposal rolls back the players' revenue share from 57 percent to 54.3 percent. Either way, the two sides remain worlds apart in the negotiations, and this week's comments make it all the more likely that the 2011-12 NBA season could be lost.
Stern, Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor represented the owners at Monday's meeting. Meanwhile, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck attended an event honoring the team's "Heroes Among Us" at the Massachusetts State House and did not have any comment on lockout matters, The Globe reported.
Both sides plan to meet once more over the next couple weeks and eventually for consecutive days before September 1, when a two-week window opens for owners and players to come to a deal or make plans for postponing training camps, according to the CBSSports.com report.
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