x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

NBA talks to resume today as Obama calls for sides to think of basketball fans

Players and owners meet in New York as the NBA season is likely to be cancelled until 2012, while the US president calls for lockout to end for fans sake.

NEW YORK // Officials from the NBA and players' association will meet today, less than a week after three days of talks with a federal mediator could not produce a deal to end the lockout, a person with knowledge of the plans said.

Talks broke down last Thursday after players said owners insisted they agree to a 50-50 split of revenues before they would further discuss the salary cap system. By not reaching an agreement last week, the NBA will likely be forced to cancel more games to go with the two weeks that were already scrapped.

There was a far nastier tone than usual to the breakdown, with Derek Fisher, the union president, accusing Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner and Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the league's labour relations committee, of lying during their press conference.

But just as they have multiple times this month when they walked away from the table without another meeting scheduled, the sides are getting back at it relatively quickly.

The meeting, first reported by the Daily News of New York, will be small groups from each side, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the negotiations were to remain private.

Commissioner David Stern will take part after he was forced to miss the session last Thursday because of an illness.

Stern said without a deal last week, he feared games could be lost up to the Christmas period. The sides tried, spending 30 hours together while meeting for three straight days for the first time since the lockout began on July 1.

They made some progress on minor issues, but continue to be stuck on the two main ones.

Players proposed lowering their guarantee of basketball-related income to 52.5 percent, leaving the sides about US$100 million (Dh367m) apart annually based on last season's revenues. They are also sparring over the length of contracts and the raises attached to them, along with the penalties teams would face for exceeding the luxury tax level.

The lockout has even forced Barack Obama, the US president, to call for both parties to think of what the continuing dispute is doing to the sport's fans.

Mr Obama, a basketball enthusiast, also warned that labour stoppages could take some time to recover.

Mr Obama, appearing on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno compared the situation to the recent labour row in the NFL, which was solved before regular season games were cancelled.

"We should be able to figure out how to split a US$9 billion pot so that our fans, who are allowing us to make all of this money, can actually have a good season," he said, paraphrasing the conversation between NFL players and owners.

"I think the owners and the basketball players need to think the same way.

"I'm concerned about it. I think they need to just remind themselves that the reason they are so successful is because a whole bunch of folks out there love basketball."

"And, you know, basketball has actually done well, but these kinds of lockouts a lot of times take a long time to recover from them."

The first two weeks of the regular season — 100 games scheduled from November 1-November 14 — have been lost.