Long day of talks don't deliver agreement

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NEW YORK — NBA players and owners met for more than 14 hours with a federal mediator, hoping to deliver the progress Commissioner David Stern says is needed to avoid canceling more games.

The talks started about 10 a.m. Stern sought immediate results in just one day of mediation, saying during interviews last week that proposals could get worse and more games could be lost without a deal Tuesday.

“If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday,” he told NBA TV. “And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us because we aren’t making any progress.”

This was the longest negotiating session since owners locked out players when the old collective bargaining agreement expired at the end of the day June 30.

In another interview, Stern told WFAN radio in New York that his “gut” was there wouldn’t be NBA games on Christmas if the 110th day of the lockout ended without a deal.

Large gaps remain, with both sides seeking 53 percent of basketball revenues and players opposing owners’ attempts to significantly change the salary cap system.

George Cohen, who was appointed director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 2009, met with the sides individually at their offices Monday before both brought their full bargaining committees to a hotel Tuesday. The union said it wanted to have the whole week set aside for negotiations, but owners have two days of board meetings beginning today.

Stern wants to be able to bring them a deal. If not, they may have to discuss further cancellations after the first two weeks of the season were already wiped out.

Cohen was present for talks between NFL owners and players for 16 days in February and March before that mediation broke off.

He previously helped broker a deal between Major League Soccer and its players and was lead lawyer for the baseball players’ union when it won an injunction against its owners in 1995, ending the 7½-month strike.

Meanwhile, the Memphis City Council is asking its attorney to explore options for recovery of revenue lost during the NBA lockout.

A resolution adopted Tuesday says that the cancellation of the NBA season’s first two weeks has caused the city to lose revenues that are used to pay the debt service on bonds issued by the city’s sports authority to build the FedExForum, and public revenues may have to be used to cover the shortfall.


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