One union, many views in NBA lockout Players to meet today to ponder next move

October 22, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

One is a young star on the verge of making millions who doesn't feel the league's marquee players should make financial sacrifices.

One is a veteran free agent who says he's willing to sacrifice future earnings for a deal good for all.

One is an older point guard likely in his last season who is upset about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he could lose.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson, Washington Wizards free-agent point guard Rod Strickland and Golden State Warriors guard Muggsy Bogues represent three of many views that will be heard in Las Vegas today as the NBA players' union meets and attempts to maintain a unified front during the NBA lockout, which began July 1 and has no end in sight.

The theme during the meetings might be, "Where do we go from here?" after an arbitrator earlier this week ruled that owners are not obligated to pay salaries during the lockout. NBA commissioner David Stern has canceled the first two weeks of the season, with more games expected to be canceled next week during a meeting of the league's board of governors.

Owners estimate players have lost about $100 million in wages with the cancellation of games. If two more weeks are canceled next week, Iverson, who was scheduled to make about $3.45 million this season, will lose $690,000.

"That's tough," Iverson, at Baltimore's ESPN Zone on Tuesday for the launch of his new Reebok shoe, said of the possibility of losing that much money. "I feel I can go a whole season without playing, but I know other guys wouldn't be able to."

That's because Iverson still earns a healthy salary from Reebok during the lockout. That's not a luxury shared by Bogues, the former Dunbar High School standout who is about to enter his 12th season.

Unlike Iverson, Bogues won't be able to make up lost money with future earnings. If two more weeks are canceled, Bogues tTC stands to lose approximately $560,000 of his $2.8 million contract.

"You've got to ask yourself, 'Who are you fighting for?' Guys who will come along later and the top 15 players?" Bogues told Bay area reporters earlier this week. "Maybe I'm not going to be agreeable to where the union stands."

Strickland said he'd be agreeable, although he could lose millions if the league scraps the Larry Bird exception and institutes a hard salary cap. The Bird exception allows teams to exceed the salary cap to retain their free agents.

After leading the league in assists last season for the Wizards, Strickland was looking at a possible contract worth $10 million or more -- which could be affected if the union relents to the owners.

"It'll affect me, but I'm confident with the leadership we have," Strickland said. "They're looking for the best deal for everybody. And if the best deal for everybody means taking a little less, so be it.

"If you concern yourself with yourself, you're taking away from what [the union] is trying to do," Strickland added. "I can't dwell on what I may not get. As long as we get a deal that benefits everybody, that's cool."

But some lower-paid players might think union demands will benefit players like Iverson, who could get a deal approaching the six-year, $126 million deal signed by Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett last year.

"I know the younger guys will play longer, and if they're making an impact, I feel they should get paid what the organization feels they deserve," Iverson said. "I'm definitely prepared [for possible lower income]. [But] I have to live. I have kids to take care of. I feel like I don't have a dollar to waste."

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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