SPRINGFIELD — Commissioner David Stern, despite NBA owners and players being far apart in reaching a labor accord, told the Globe tonight that he “expects” an eventual agreement that would prevent cancellation of the season.
“I would say that we have very smart players who recognize that this system is very good to them,” he said. “You’ve got 13 players on a roster averaging $5 million apiece, that’s $65 million and what the owners have said is, ‘we’re going to try very hard as we reset this thing to keep you as close to that number as we can.’
“The NFL, which is usually profitable as opposed to the NBA, which isn’t, got the double-digit [revenue] reductions from their players. Our players will understand that when the rhetoric stops and they will understand that the owners are trying to do the right thing and our players always try to do the right thing.”
Stern walked away discouraged from the first full negotiating session two weeks ago and less than 24 hours later, the NBA filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board to prevent a decertification.
Still, Stern said he is optimistic about reaching an agreement.
“I expect that we’ll make a deal because the alternative is very destructive,” he said. “It’s destructive of $2 billion worth of player salaries and it’s destructive most important to our fans of the game. And if it spirals badly everyone gets hurt. But in some ways I worry because the players have more to lose, especially those in the later stages of their career. So we’re going to do everything we can when the rhetoric slows down to get this thing back on track.”
The previous statement may have been a shot at Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, who told the National Bar Association last week that he expects the 2011-12 season will be lost because of the labor dispute. Stern said a scheduled negotiating session yesterday was canceled by the players.
“They’ll be smaller meetings, conversations, you don’t need these great media events to have dialogue,” he said. “Eventually we’ll get it done.
“I will not set a deadline on Aug. 11,” he said. “We close to two months away.”