-- NBA Commissioner David Stern said that if the league and the players' union cannot come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement before the end of the month, the NBA could be facing a lengthy lockout. "If July 1 comes and there's a lockout, the union will have made a mistake of epic proportions," Stern said Sunday before Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Stern said the league has laid out a proposal in which the players would receive 57 percent of the revenue, the maximum length of contracts would be reduced from the current seven years to six years, and the minimum age limit would be increased to 19. The league also has attempted to change its substance abuse policy, which has become a major obstacle to a deal being completed.
Stern said if the union doesn't accept the proposed deal, it will be snatched from the table. "I would say that this is our last offer," he said.
At their previous meeting, the players' union suggested extending the deal that is already in place. That isn't an option now, or in the future, Stern said. "Our fear, given who we are, given our life's experience in the NBA, is that our business will slip away from us faster than even some other sports," he said. "And if that's the case, then I'm not in good conscience going to sit in front of owners trying to get in front of a train to say, you know, it's okay, we'll make the same deal that we were willing to make before all of this damage to your business occurred. I'm not going to do it."
The league and the players' union currently don't have any meetings scheduled in the next 17 days, but the players are scheduled to meet Monday in Chicago and Tuesday in New York. "I'm optimistic that, in light of what's at stake, we'll find someone to negotiate with," Stern said. "I remain disbelieving here, actually, because whatever the public would think of us, the fact that we could explain it is not going to change the view that in a time when the world seems to be pretty much on fire . . . that we couldn't sit down and come up with a way to divide up the three billion dollars a year of revenues that we are going to generate, in a sport that . . . back in 1976 was probably generating 75 million dollars in total. It is incomprehensible and in some ways inexplicable and I'm not looking forward to it."
More Fines for R. Wallace?
Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace is expected to be fined for failing to speak to the media on Saturday. Wallace showed up at his podium at SBC Center at the proper time, but he spent his 20 minutes playing with his video game system and never acknowledged the reporters gathered around him. "I'm sure he will" be fined, Pistons Coach Larry Brown said before Game 2. "He told me he had, you know, nothing to say because we hadn't done anything." Wallace has already been fined once in the playoffs, paying the league $20,000 for publicly criticizing the officials after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
Horry Shooting for Six
San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry is attempting to win his sixth championship ring and become the first player in NBA history to "truly" win a title with three different teams. Horry discredited John Salley, who won titles with the Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. "In my eyes, I would be [the first]," Horry said. "John Salley won three, but he doesn't count. When he went to the Bulls, he didn't play. When he was with us with the Lakers, he didn't play. He's like me -- very lucky." Horry, who has hit his share of big shots for the Houston Rockets and the Lakers, isn't headed for a plaque in Springfield, Mass., but believes he will join a list of players. "You're going to have the Hall of the Famers, and the 'Yeah, I remembers,' " Horry said. "You know, 'Yeah, I remember him.' "