home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 31, 2011

Adam Silver

David Stern


COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: Thanks everyone for coming. Welcome to the 2011 NBA Finals. I want to first congratulate Mark Cuban and Dallas, and Mickey Arison and Miami and all of their staffs and players. We watched some regular season games, some playoffs and two great teams are here. What we know will be an exciting Finals.
We've had a great season. I'm not going to bore you with all the metrics. They've been written about. I would say the most important thing for us is that the play of our players has captured the imagination of our fans. If you look at print, blogs, TV, social media, there's an incredible amount of buzz around our game.
And the same is true on an international basis as well. We've credentialed probably 2,000 media for this series. Over 300 will come from outside the United States. Pretty exciting, from 37 different countries.
I can't say enough good things about the two teams that have attracted this kind of attention. Tomorrow we'll be doing an NBA Cares event at the Dunbar Elementary together with members of the Heat, and next week at J.W. Ray Learning Center we're going to do it in Dallas as well. We've been doing this for a decade. And it's a part of what we do.
I just have a small announcement to make, that the Board of Governors, it's a very important announcement, but the Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Detroit Pistons to a group led by Tom Gores. We expect the deal to close this week. It's very important to us, because we think Tom will bring renewed vigor and energy to that great franchise. And he's really very anxious to get going. I spoke to him earlier today on my way here. And that's a very good development for the Detroit Pistons and the good fans of Detroit.
Finally, with all this great news, we all know that we have a collective bargaining agreement expiring on June 30th. And I guess I would say to you that it's going to be a challenge to the NBA owners and the union to reach the right deal so that this success that we're having can continue, and the challenge is to do it before the expiration of the current agreement on June 30th.
To that end, I have scheduled, together with Billy Hunter, Adam Silver and Peter Holt, the chairman of our labor relations committee, full-blown bargaining session for tomorrow here in Miami, and two full days next week in Dallas. And the question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the tack that it is on now, which is straight up.
With that, we're happy to take any questions.

Q. Their complaints to the NLRB was basically they charged you with not wanting to negotiate so there could be a lockout, and then you can negotiate after that. Have they ever brought that up to you? And what did you feel about that?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: As a matter of fact, we learned about the unfair labor practice charge on our way to a negotiating session last week in which they were delivering to us some ideas, and then we agreed to schedule meetings for tomorrow and next week. So I think that's a part of the challenge, really, whether we're going to be bold enough to negotiate as opposed to posture.

Q. Mr. Stern, two questions: What is full-blown bargaining as compared to what you've been doing already?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: It really goes to the number of people in the room. What I meant by that, and maybe it was a bad choice of words, last week we had what we called a small group meeting with a couple of owners and just a couple of players, a few players. Tomorrow we're bringing in all members of the executive committee who could make it from the union side and all members of the labor relations committee are able to make it from our side. So there's going to be a large group gathering, both tomorrow and next week.

Q. I understand in passing negotiations with you and Billy, there has been a moment where your offer has significantly improved and then a deal has quickly followed. When do we get that? When do we get your good offer?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: I think you're spending too much time listening to the wrong people.

Q. So you're obviously not going to improve your offer?

Q. I have two questions: The first one on the current topic, would you be able to put a percentage chance in your mind as you sit here tonight of a lengthy lockout? And how would that number compare to what you would have said at All-Star Weekend in February?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: I can't answer that. I don't even want to make guesses, because I know that both sides will make their best offers before the lockout, because if they don't, than there's going to be a lockout that would be destructive of our business from the owners' perspective and the players' perspective. So that's why we've scheduled these sessions, and we'll schedule more, because we want to face this issue, being not making a deal together with as many players and owners as we can gather in.

Q. My second question, unrelated topic, it's my understanding you have not yet received a formal tampering complaint from the Cleveland organization. Have you received any correspondence at all from that representatives that would indicate what the status is of that topic?

Q. David, is it fair to say that if the lockout begins July 1st, it's going to be a long time before anybody moves off of whatever offer they are at at the moment, and that the lockout will drag on well into the next season?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER: No reason to believe that. As David said earlier, all our attention is focused on trying to get a deal done before July 1st. I'll add, and we've been asked this before, and that is whether we've already begun to incur damage to our business before the expiration of this deal, and the fact is we have. While season ticket sales across the league are going very well, our business partners, both our marketing partners and our licensees who need to plan in the normal course of business, are unable to make their usual media buys, place orders.
And so the uncertainty is having a great impact on our business. It doesn't mean that if we reach the expiration of this collective bargaining agreement that you, therefore, leapfrog into a much later date before a deal is done. And in fact, to your point, all of our emphasis is on that July 1st deadline. As David said, I think it would be a mistake for both sides if we do not put our best proposals forward before that deadline, because it is a very real deadline. And while we've incurred some damage already, it will move to a new level once we're in a work stoppage, if that were to occur.

Q. Isn't it a complication, though, first of all, you have negotiations going on with owners with revenue sharing as well as with the players. So there's two separate negotiations. Doesn't that complicate things? And then also, the idea that there are really almost two deadlines. There's one in July and one when training camps actually start, when players are going to start getting paid going into the season.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: There are dollars that are going to be due all summer, number one. Number two, once you go into a lockout, everyone knows the offers get worse, not better. And number three, the confluence of revenue sharing and collective bargaining, that's why commissioners were invented. If we can make a deal, we'll take care of all the issues.

Q. The NFL has gotten a pretty strong negative reaction to its ownership from its lockout. What kind of things have you heard from your fans about any potential lockout and work stoppage on the NBA's part?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER: I think the amount of chatter out in the marketplace is nothing like what the NFL is hearing. And what we hear from our fans is we want to see NBA basketball. Really same types of things you're all asking us today, which is basketball has never been better, and it would be a shame if there was a stop in play of any kind.

Q. If there is a hard cap, would there be any concern about there being a risk of a team with multiple all stars like Miami has, having to shed one of those contracts? And is that something you would like to avoid?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: That's part of the negotiation. There are all kinds of negotiations that go on in these things between teams that have different roster make-ups, between teams and among teams that gross different amounts generally when it comes to revenue sharing, and on the other side, amongst players who have different economic interests and deals. This is very complex. It's going to involve a lot of working together with the union, with the full confidence of both the players and the owners that if there's a will, we'll be able to work all those issues out.

Q. One other quick unrelated thing, there was so much talk last summer about whether having this Heat team together was good. Seeing the TV ratings is there any question in your mind that this has been a good thing?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: The reason we're scheduling the meeting tomorrow, we told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach.

Q. With regard to the NLRB complaints, first of all, how do you interpret the complaint itself? What does it mean to you and to the negotiations? And secondly, anything you can say to the specific charges of take-it-or-leave-it bargaining, trying to directly go to players, these kinds of things?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: When you learn about our process and the various offers that have been made by us, you will see that that will be a difficult charge to sustain, to say the least.

Q. Do you have a sense of what they meant by the specific charge of trying to go directly to players?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: I'm guessing some players have started dialogue with an owner saying something about not wanting his contract to be changed, or something, or an owner saying don't worry about it, we'll be making a new offer, or whatever. And the union for whatever reason got themselves a lawyer that thought he would put that together an unfair labor practice charge. We're not concerned.

Q. David, has there been any consideration to extending the deadline past July 1st if negotiations are close, or even maybe not close?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER: There's been no consideration of that yet. There have been times historically where we have had deadlines of existing collective bargaining agreements and have entered into moratoriums while negotiations were progressing. But we're not at that point yet where we've even considered doing that here.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: It would be great to be in the position, as sometimes happens, where you stop the clock. But that would require some more intense negotiations than we currently can report on.

Q. Non-labor topic here.

Q. Commissioner, what would it take for you or the League to decide to award the Most Valuable Player after the postseason and make the postseason a criteria of the award?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: It's an idea that should get some traction. I have no particular opinion on it one way or the other. And the worst answer I can give you is the truth, it's always been done this way. That doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. It's something we would consider if there was any momentum for it amongst the Competition Committee, our ownership. It's something we can always consider for next season.

Q. David, so often we're left with he said, he said in these negotiations. You know, any shot we can get these bargaining sessions on NBA TV?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: More likely dot com. We'll stream it. Give me your e-mail. We'll do it for a party of one.

Q. Any thought to giving a franchise tag in this league to protect the smaller-market teams like Denver, Cleveland, Toronto?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: That hasn't been proposed. We have historically tried to make it more attractive for a player to stay with his current team, and I'm sure that that trend will continue, if not be enhanced.
But as you consider this with respect to the small-market teams, and you think about what a harder cap might do for them, and you consider what revenue sharing might do for them, there are sort of limits in terms of what the committee is thinking about and the franchise tag is not one of them. Although a strong incentive for a player to stay with his team and the ability of the team to keep the player is there.

Q. Does that concern you, this colluding among the players to build these super-friend teams?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: I don't consider it colluding.

Q. Planning?
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: You mean saying to a friend, wouldn't it be great to play together and then going that way?

Q. Yes.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: It doesn't get my juices going.

Q. I'm curious, how did the current CBA become so bad for the owners that there needs to be such a correction?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER: Costs have risen much faster than revenues over the course of this deal. The last year of the prior deal our BRI, our gross revenues, essentially, were rising 10% a year. Two years ago revenue increased 3%. Last year 1%. This year probably somewhere between 3 and 4%. At the same time, non-player costs are growing at a much higher percentage, and the built-in increases of our contracts are much higher than inflation and the growth in our business. For example, the three key players on the Heat all have 10 1/2% per year increases built into their deals for next year, at a point when revenues in our business are growing somewhere around 3%. It's a broken system.

Q. David, good evening. Mark Cuban seems to have turned over a little bit of a new leaf. He hasn't done a formal interview in months, maybe weeks. I'm wondering if I can get your reactions and observations at a time when his team is accomplishing so much, he's saying so little.
COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: It's too delicious, but I'll pass. I just think that he's trying to be as supportive as he can of his team, and he's doing a heck of a job in terms of the talent that they've gotten, the coach he's put there, and I think he's enjoying it and spending a lot of time supporting his team. And I think that's terrific.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297