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Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010

NBA, players talk tough on labor

DALLAS (AP) The executive director of the NBA players' association said Friday the league tore up its proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement after a "contentious" 90-minute session.

News photo
Aerial acrobatics: Sacramento's Tyreke Evans goes up for a reverse layup against New York's Danilo Gallinari during the Rookie Challenge game on Friday at All-Star Weekend. AP PHOTO

But Billy Hunter said that doesn't mean the league is closer to a lockout when the current deal expires on July 1, 2011.

"No, I think that everybody has a different sense of things and nobody wants to see this thing that David Stern has worked and built, the NBA, the successful entity that it is, the brand, we're not out to damage it or destroy it," Hunter said after a news conference.

"So we're going to make every effort to get an agreement done, we just want an agreement that's a lot more equitable and one that doesn't have a structure that's oppressive."

Hunter said the union will submit its own proposal, but offered no timetable for when that would happen. He's in no rush, since the players believe the current system is working for both sides, and it doesn't expire for another 16 months.

The sides met Friday, with negotiators for the players fortified by the presence of All-Stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett, who came to the meeting instead of attending the community service events they were scheduled for. A number of top players vowed earlier in the day to get more involved in the process.

"We should be involved," Anthony said before the meeting. "It's not only going to affect the players with the lesser contracts, it's going to affect us, too.

"When you walk into one of those meetings, one of those CBA meetings, and you see myself, you see the LeBrons and the Kobes and the Kevin Garnetts, it's a stronger presence. So I think we should go in and make our presence felt."

Hunter said the union received the proposal on Jan. 29. It calls for dramatic financial changes, with Hunter saying the league seeks a "hard" salary cap which would eliminate the Bird and midlevel exceptions that teams over the cap can use to sign players if they are willing to pay a luxury tax.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who heads the league's negotiating team, said in a statement that, "While we do not agree with the players association's characterization of today's meeting or the status of the NBA's bargaining proposal, David will address the subject of collective bargaining during his media availability prior to All-Star Saturday night."

Blair leads rookies

DALLAS (AP) San Antonio's DeJuan Blair told his fellow NBA rookies before the game that he was going to try to get every rebound. Then he went out and set a record.

Blair grabbed a record 23 rebounds and scored 22 points for the first 20-20 game in the Rookie Challenge, leading the first-year players to a rare 140-128 victory over the sophomores on Friday night.

"He started getting the rebounds for us. He did what he said he was going to do," said Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, who had 26 points and was the game's MVP. "That's why I wanted to share the (MVP) trophy with him."

Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City scored 40 points for the sophomores, but he was one of seven players on the second-year team who were handed a surprising result — consecutive losses in this All-Star weekend event.

Hall finalists named

DALLAS (AP) Two-time NBA MVP Karl Malone, six-time champion Scottie Pippen, and two of the great U.S. Olympic champions are finalists for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

The 1992 Dream Team, which Malone and Pippen played on along with superstars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, is a finalist in the team category. Also up for induction is the 1960 gold medalists, a team led by Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robertson that won its games in Rome by 42.4 points per game.

"It was great to play with Larry, Michael and all the guys after all those years," Johnson said at a news conference. "They said there's no way we could play together. They underestimated us from the beginning. We didn't care who scored the points or got their name in the paper. All we cared about was bringing the gold back to the U.S."

The 19 finalists were announced Friday at the start of the NBA's All-Star weekend. The class of 2010 will be announced on April 5 in Indianapolis before the NCAA championship game.

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Visit The Japan Times' Web site for a recap of Saturday's bj-league games.

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