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NBA, players joint news conference transcript

Posted Nov 26 2011 9:37AM

David Stern: Well, we've reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations but we are optimistic that will all come to pass and the NBA season will begin December 25th, Christmas Day, with a triple-header. I won't give you the details to tune in yet. We are very pleased that we have come this far.

There is a lot of work to be done in a lot of places, with a lot of committees and player groups and alike but we are optimistic that it will hold and we will have ourselves an NBA season.

Billy Hunter: I want to announce on behalf of those who are gathered here, Derek (Fisher) and Maurice (Evans), that we are happy that we have been able to resolve and reach a tentative litigation settlement with regards to many issues that are pending for the various courts. We are going to turn it all over to the lawyers here and let them work out the details and we'll then be able to talk further as that process proceeds.

Stern: From our side I want to thank Peter Holt, the Chairman of our Labor Relations Committee who has done yeoman's service making New York City his second home for the last several months. And Deputy Commissioner, Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver of the NBA, our General Council Rick Buchanan and our Deputy General Council Dan Rube who was here this evening with us.

Q: David and Billy, what can you tell us about the issues that kept you divided a couple of weeks ago and how those might have been resolved tonight?

Hunter: We really can't tell you much because we haven't' as of yet had a chance to speak with the plaintiffs in the case. I think I owe it first to them to discuss with them a tentative settlement that's been reached before we disclose to the press and the public.

Stern: In our case we have a conference call setup tomorrow (Saturday) with our Labor Relations Committee. In some ways it would probably have been better to juxtapose this session with what Billy has to do and what we have to do but out of a sense of admiration and sympathy for those of you who have been standing outside for 13 hours we thought it would be a good idea to sort of stop in. Adam, do you agree?

Adam Silver: Absolutely and in addition I would like to thank our 13-member Labor Relations Committee who worked hand in hand with Peter Holt over the last two and a half years and also express admiration for Billy, Derek and Mo and the rest of their Executive Committee. We have developed a very close relationship working together over these past few years. I know, as we said before, this was not an easy agreement for anyone. Owners came in having suffered substantial loses and feeling that the system wasn't working fairly across all teams and I certainly know that the players had strong view about expectations in terms of what they should be getting from the system so it required a lot of compromise on both parties part and I think that's what we saw today. I think we saw a willingness of both sides to compromise yet a little more and to reach this agreement. We look forward to opening on Christmas Day and we are excited to bring NBA basketball back and that's most important.

Q: With all due respect to those that have to vet the details, can you sort of tell us how you fell this deal will help you accomplish your goals of a more competitive league?

Silver: I think it will largely prevent the high spending teams from competing in the free agency market in a way that they have been able to in the past. As I have said, it is a compromise and it is not the system we sought out to get in terms of a harder cap but the luxury tax is harsher than it was in the past deal and we hope it's effective. You never can be sure with how a new system will work but we feel ultimately it will give fans in every community hope that their team can compete for championships and that their basis for believing in their team will be a function of management of that team rather than, as I have said before, how deep the owners pockets are or how large the market is. Peter, do you want to speak to that point?

Peter Holt: That is a big part of it and I appreciate what Billy and Derek and the players have compromised on because it will allow us as a small market to be competitive and create more parity across all 30 teams. We are really excited. We are excited for the fans. We're excited to start playing basketball for the players and for everybody involved. This is going to give us an opportunity we think it is, a contract as we work through it over the next many days getting all the details done, that is going to allow all of that. And so it is really exciting. It is going to be exciting whether you are in a small market or a large market. Fans are going to have a lot of hope and a lot of excitement going forward.

Q: David and Billy, how confident are you both that you can convince your respective parties to agree to this deal?

Hunter: Well you know, what we have to do is obviously sit down with the litigants because it has to be resolved in the context of litigation. We are confident that once we present it that they will support it and I think that's why Derek and Maurice are here. They are both defendants in the case that was filed by the NBA in New York City and named participants in the settlement and I think they are convinced they can do it and that would be principally part of Derek's job and Maurice. Derek?

Derek Fisher: I think for us, we'll stick with the understanding that we can't get into too many details about our understanding in the settlement but I think for myself as a representative of a lot of our players and for Maurice as well and the Players Association staff and everyone that has worked hard, there is a lot of mutual respect personally and professionally for the NBA and the men in this room. The most important key thing here is that our fans and the support from the people and the patience through a large part of this process, that is who a lot of this credit goes to. The efforts that have been made have been largely with them in mind. So, with that being said, there is a lot of work left to do. Attorneys and lawyers will handle a lot of the heavy lifting. For myself it is great to be a part of this particular moment in terms of giving our fans what it is that so badly they have wanted to see.

Q: How did you get from ten days again what was called the NBA nuclear winter to how we are sitting here now? How did it fix itself?

Hunter: I think it was the ability of the parties to decide it was necessary to compromise and to kind of put this thing back together in some kind of way to put and end to the litigation and everything that that entails. We just thought, rather than trying to pursue this in court, that it was in both of our interests to try and reach a resolution to save the game and to be able to provide the kind of superb entertainment that the NBA has historically provided.

Stern: I would say in answer to the question, that we expect our Labor Relations Committee to endorse this deal, this tentative agreement. We expect our Board of Governors at a meeting we will call after that, to endorse the deal. And we expect that a Collective Bargaining Agreement will arise out of this deal as well. I think I really do want to express our appreciation for the parties that were here tonight - Mo, Derek and Billy and the entire party -- because we talked about not just our teams and our players but literally thousands of people who are dependent upon the playing of our games at arenas, at parking lots, at restaurants around the stadium. We resolve that despite some, even bumps this evening, that the greater good required us to knock ourselves out and come to this tentative understanding. I think that there is still a lot, of shall we say, other issues to finish because we have the broadest outline but I think both sides are optimistic that this will yield a full blown series of agreements.

Q: Would we be correct to assume it's a 50-50 split of BRI?

Hunter: I think the details of the deal will be revealed shortly. But I'm not prepared to discuss them tonight.

Q: How quickly can you guys move ... obviously there's a litigation aspect that has to be settled and put aside first. But how quickly can you move to have the executive board, and the then the player reps and then the full body vote?

Hunter: We intend to meet first thing in the morning with our lawyers; we've been on the phone with them tonight. One of them is here from the Boise firm and also here (inaudible). And we intend to meet with other lawyers in the morning and turn matters over to them to see how quickly they can get things resolved. It could be a matter of three days to a week.

Q: That includes re-forming the union and then having the votes that are necessary?

Hunter: Well, I'm not at liberty to give you the specifics of how it will unveil itself. But I'm confident that we'll get it done.

Q: David, did you say both the labor relations committee and the Board of Governors would have a vote tomorrow?

Stern: No. The labor relations committee will be briefed tomorrow, and it will have to make a recommendation to the board. But we'll call for a Board vote in due course because we want to do that at such time that the understandings are adequately represented in pieces of paper. And our goal is to, if we can do that and get everything out of the way, to open training camps on Dec. 9.

Q: How many games are you expecting to play?

Stern: Sixty-six.

Q: How long of a free agency period can you squeeze in, or will training camps and free agency overlap?

Stern: Likely, they will start at the same time.

Q: Did you have a conference call with your labor committee tonight also?

Holt: Yes, we visited with them at least twice through the afternoon and the evening.

Q: What was the nature of those meetings?

Holt: Strange. Only one thing: I'm trying to get a deal done. And we've had a great labor committee group that's been on-call, literally night and day, for almost two years, and almost everybody is on almost every call and has been deeply involved. Of course, a lot of them have been at a lot of meetings.

Q: What's the schedule for discussing the B issues or the smaller issues.

Stern: Sleep first. (laughter)

Silver: Tomorrow.

Stern: Yes, tomorrow.

Holt: Start pretty soon.

Silver: We're on an incredibly tight schedule as you might imagine between now and opening on Christmas.

Q: Is the deal reached tonight because of the calendar, because of the pending litigation, a combination?

Holt: Play basketball.

Stern: We want to play basketball.

Holt: Let's go play basketball.

Stern: For us, the litigation is just something that has to be dealt with.

It was not the reason for the settlement. The reason for the settlement is we've got fans; we've got players who would like to play; we've got others who are dependent on us. And it's always been our goal to reach a deal that was fair to both sides and would get us playing as soon as possible. But, that took a little time.

Q: Do you think you'll get a unanimous vote from the owners?

Stern: I would be disappointed if we did. (laughter)


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