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September 15, 2011

Adam Silver

David Stern

DAVID STERN: We've just had a very full day with the owners. There was a full report from the labor relations committee on the status of collective bargaining, there was a full report from the planning committee on the latest iteration of our revenue sharing plan, there was a ratification of our collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the NBA Referees' Association, and there was a report on the status of the transactions involving Philadelphia, Atlanta and the potential of a new building in Sacramento.
As it relates to collective bargaining, I think it's fair to say that the board was well briefed, they expressed their full support for the committee, and they -- and we look forward to continuing to engage with the union over the possibility that we might reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
There is virtual unanimity on approach. We have a very unified board, have a very unified committee. On one subject that you may have -- that we've heard some chatter about, it is the view of the board and the committee that an individual team's salary cap as opposed to a league-wide salary cap is preferred and the better way to go. But as we told the union and will continue to tell them, everything is negotiable. And we're going back to New York and we'll see where we go from here.

Q. So is it accurate to say that all the owners are collectively on the same page moving forward?
DAVID STERN: Oh, absolutely. They expressed their strong support for the committee and the unified nature of their position.

Q. Derek Fisher came out today and said that fewer than half the owners are committed to a hard salary cap system. Can you comment on that?
DAVID STERN: Sure, I'm happy to comment on that. I don't know what the basis of Derek's belief is, but I can tell you having just come out of the meeting that the vast majority of owners are indeed in favor of a hard cap system as Derek referred to. Having said that, they authorized the committee to be ready to negotiate on all points, and the committee is.
ADAM SILVER: And from the beginning we were never caught up with the label of a hard cap, what we've said from day one is we need a system where all 30 teams can compete for a championship, and we have absolute unanimity among our owners on that principle. So while we've discussed over the last several hours and the last several weeks different concepts to achieve that result, there's absolute agreement and it's a complete fiction coming from somewhere that there isn't among our owners.

Q. What does virtual agreement --
DAVID STERN: Virtually unanimous, because some people might say they want a hard cap with this wrinkle and some people might say they want a hard cap with that wrinkle, but I would say there's unanimity in favoring a hard cap, period. That said, the committee has been authorized to negotiate on all subjects.
And I guess I wanted to say one thing: There's been some reporting speculating from, quote, "sources" about what one owner or another's position is. It is so wrong and incorrect and fictional that I think I can understand why they would only attribute it to sources and that nobody would be willing to stand behind it. It's been absolutely untrue. And I don't want to single out ESPN The Magazine for that quality of reporting; it wouldn't be fair.

Q. So you're saying that there is a point where enough changes in the economics would make the previous soft salary cap a workable system?
DAVID STERN: No, what we said is everything is negotiable.
ADAM SILVER: But just so it's clear, they're two completely different principles. For example, in the NHL they have a hard cap type system through a flex cap, but a majority of the teams lose money because the economic split doesn't work. And what we've told the players from the very day we began these negotiations are that we need a system in which every team if well-managed can be profitable, but independently we need a system where every team can compete for a championship.
So those aren't trade-offs. It's not as if every team could compete as in the NHL, we're willing to sacrifice the economics, and it's not the case that if the macroeconomics of this league work, by the way, so revenue sharing isn't a solution. What we've told them is that 30 teams combined are losing $300 million, so all we would be doing is divvying up those losses among the 30 teams. But what we've told them is that in addition to solving the economics, on behalf of fans in 30 independent communities, those teams need the ability within a system to compete, if well-managed, for a championship.

Q. Back in February you had told us when asked about revenue sharing that collective bargaining and revenue sharing would be equally intense processes. Given where collective bargaining is at, is revenue sharing keeping up with the intensity?
DAVID STERN: Absolutely. We spent almost as much time I'd say on revenue sharing today, in fact as much time as on collective bargaining, and the planning committee has a meeting scheduled for Friday in New York. We got solicited input from 30 teams on this, and we're teeing it up in a way that it'll be ready to go when we -- if and when we make a deal on the collective bargaining side.

Q. What can you tell us about any of the aspects of the revenue-sharing plan?
DAVID STERN: Only that the net transfers of dollars will be a multiple of what they were under the old deal, of revenue sharing. That's all.

Q. Adam, when you were saying about the competitive balance, is that as much or more of an issue now than the overall economics? Or how does that tie together?
ADAM SILVER: I wouldn't say it's more or less of an issue. I think they're equally important. That was the point I was trying to make, that we need to solve both problems, and as David has said, we've told the union that we're willing to negotiate about all aspects of a new system and all aspects of the economics, but that to come out of this negotiation with an economic system but one that doesn't solve the problem of competition among the 30 teams would not be a result that would be in the interest -- long-term interest of the league, of our fans or of the players for that matter because presumably every player in this league also wants to play for a team that can compete for a championship, not be -- even if they can make the money, they still -- these are the best competitors in the world, and they want to win. I mean, and I think I would assume you would hear that from players, that of course they want to be paid the most the system can provide them, but on the same token, they want to be in a position to compete for championships and to compete to win, and that's what this league is about, competition.
DAVID STERN: Even if a league where one team could pay 100 to its roster, another team could pay 50 and would be economically successful; our owners and our fans don't want it because it wouldn't be competitive, and so you can see that these are completely separate issues for us, and they're equally important.

Q. How proactive has the union been in terms of suggesting remedies for competitive balance?
DAVID STERN: I think it's fair to say there's been debate and discussion about that, you know, and by the way, I just want to say one other thing. I get reports that the union is coming out of their meeting today unified. We think that's a good thing. We would like to negotiate with a strong union capable of delivering a deal, and that's something that is, I think, a very positive step.

Q. You've got the referees locked up now. The bottom line is are they going to have games to ref on time?
DAVID STERN: That's a really good question.

Q. Do you have a really good answer?
DAVID STERN: No, it depends upon our negotiation with the players.

Q. Is the clock ticking?
DAVID STERN: The clock is ticking, but it hasn't struck midnight yet. We have time to do what has to be done, and we'd like to do it, actually.

Q. Can you tell us both what's next? Where do you all go from here with the next step in the process, and did you vote on those ownership transfers?
DAVID STERN: No, there was no vote on the ownership transfers, just a report. The only vote was on the referee deal, which was ratified by the NBA and the owners, and we can't get back to our phones in New York until we get back to New York, and we're going to end this press conference and head back to New York.

Q. Are there any other negotiating --
DAVID STERN: Well, there's nothing scheduled right this minute because we're traveling back to New York and I assume the union is traveling back to New York, but we'll both be in New York starting tomorrow, and it wouldn't surprise me if there was some conversation that was going on.
Thank you very much, everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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