Blog Entry

Marathon mediation leads to another meeting

Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:02 am
NEW YORK -- After a marathon, 16-hour bargaining session supervised by federal mediator George Cohen, negotiators for the NBA and its players' association left a Manhattan hotel after 2 a.m. ET Wednesday with no comment -- but with another meeting scheduled hours later in an attempt to end the lockout.

The two sides will reconvene at 10 a.m. Cohen requested that both sides refrain from making public comments, and both sides obliged.

"Nothing has been agreed to," said a person who was briefed on the talks. "There was nothing to say."

Negotiators rehashed the issues they've been wrestling with for more than two years, with the difference being that Cohen, according to a source, "took the emotion out of it." No topics were excluded from the mediation session, including the biggest obstacles in the way of a deal -- the split of revenues and a revised luxury tax system that would replace the hard team salary cap owners long sought in their efforts to achieve parity and competitive balance.

Cohen, a presidential appointee and the top federal mediator in the country, was at least able to do something that the two sides had been unable to do during a recent flurry of negotiations: focus on bridging the gap between them as opposed to concentrating on their own, still widely divergent positions, a source said. 

At one point late into the night, it was decided that the two sides needed to come back later Wednesday -- a session that is expected to decide whether the change of format and removal of emotion will yield movement in each side's position. 

Both sides clearly realized it was time to make a deal, but neither was ready to do it in this -- by far the longest -- bargaining session of the 3 1-2 month lockout.

A meeting of the owners' labor relations committee previously scheduled for Wednesday morning will be replaced by that committee's bargaining session with the players, again under Cohen's supervision. The owners' full Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, and Thursday, the planning committee is scheduled to present to the full board its revenue sharing plan -- a key cog in the logjammed talks.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. Tuesday and finally broke up at 2 a.m. Wednesday, when both sides decided to return to the bargaining table eight hours later.

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