The head of the NBA Players Association said yesterday shorter seasons or shorter games will be an issue in contract talks with the league to remedy what he calls a significant increase in stress-fracture injuries. The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union expires in June 1987.
Two weeks ago Larry Fleisher, the union's general counsel, suggested ending the draft. Now, he has proposed reducing the 82-game season or the 48-minute game.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said Fleisher "can bring as big a wish list to the bargaining table as he desires," virtually repeating his response to the call to end the annual draft of college players. An NBA spokesman called Fleisher's suggestions "prebargaining rhetoric."
Fleisher also said there are "questions about the possibility of congenital problems with the athletic shoes now being worn. Some of the players are 'psycho' about wanting the shoes to be as light as possible.
"Up until Bill Walton, you virtually never heard of stress fractures in pro basketball," he said, referring to the Boston Celtics' reserve center who missed three entire seasons and portions of several others over a decade while with Portland and San Diego.
This season, Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls' star guard, has missed all but the first three games.
"Besides Jordan, there's Sam Bowie, Frank Johnson, Darrell Griffith and a lot more," Fleisher said. "I don't have the exact numbers, but the increase is a significant one."