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Published: Tuesday, 10/18/2011

Stern hopes mediation can settle NBA dispute

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — The NBA and players’ association are ready to try mediation, and commissioner David Stern wants results quickly.

Stern said last week during an interview with WFAN radio in New York that without a deal Tuesday, when the sides meet with federal mediator George Cohen, his “gut” was that there wouldn’t be NBA basketball on Christmas.

Owners are opening two days of board meetings Wednesday, and Stern wants to be able to bring a deal to them.

But can a mediator swoop in and smooth out two years of bickering in one day?

Attorney Jay Krupin, chair of EpsteinBeckerGreen’s national labor practice in Washington, doesn’t think so — unless the players are prepared to concede on some issues.

“If the players want to get back on the court, then this is a great time for them to try to show that they’re willing to make some type of compromise, and I think that’s what it is,” he said. “This is an opportunity to really determine whether or not the players are willing to make concessions. I think the owners are willing to walk away without concessions, so if the players really want to make concessions when they meet, that has to be expressed to the mediator.”

Players already feel they’ve conceded plenty financially, and they dismissed Stern’s attempt to attach added importance to Tuesday’s talks, with union president Derek Fisher of the the Los Angeles Lakers saying it was just an “arbitrary deadline” for potential Christmas cancellations.



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