SAN ANTONIO NBA commissioner David Stern said yesterday the players union is making a tragic mistake in collective bargaining and the inability of the two sides to reach a settlement will likely result in a lockout on July 1.
They are making a tragic mistake in their calculation, given the coalition that has been put together amongst NBA owners to make this deal, Stern said at a press conference prior to Game 2 of the NBA finals. If July 1 comes and there s a lockout, the union will have made a mistake of epic proportions that I don t think the average member of the rank and file understands is taking place.
Deputy commissioner Russ Granik said no negotiations are scheduled, increasing the possibility for a lockout.
Well, it has to do with the unwillingness to have a drug agreement that we can feel comfortable about, and the unwillingness on rookie eligibility, the length of contracts, and a demand that the escrow withholding [tax] be reduced [and], a demand for pension increases to be paid entirely by the league, Granik said.
So the combination of the union wanting more money and being unwilling to do the things that we think we have to do that won t cost them any money has just left us with no way to put it together.
ADVICE FOR VILLEGAS: Detroit Pistons guard Carlos Arroyo had some words of advice for University of Toledo senior-to-be Sammy Villegas. Arroyo has known Villegas for several years and came away impressed after Villegas spent last summer practicing with the Puerto Rican Olympic team. Arroyo led Puerto Rico to a sixth-place finish in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Villegas was an alternate on the team.
I ve known this kid since he was 15, 16 years old. I have great respect for him, Arroyo said. He has the talent. He understands the game.
Arroyo said Villegas, a former Mid-American Conference freshman of the year whose scoring average dropped from 13.8 points to 9.3 points last season, has the potential to finish his UT career with a flourish.
The main thing is to stay focused, Arroyo said. For him to be able to get better, you have to be hungry and understand that you re capable of being better than what you are today, and he has that.
HISTORIC SERIES: The Pistons-Spurs championship series marks only the third time in league history that winners of the two previous titles met the following year in the finals. The last time the two previous title winners met in the finals was 18 years ago, when the 1986 champion Celtics faced the 1985 champion Lakers in the 1987 finals.