NBA union says owners polled players Hunter says association will do same with GMs

November 07, 1998|By PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

PHILADELPHIA -- Upset with the NBA's negotiating stance, the National Basketball Players Association held a teleconference yesterday after meeting with the league for 90 minutes.

In the teleconference, the union accused the NBA of talking to players about a deal and then vowing to do the same with team owners in a few days.

Promising he would not put any more offers on the table until the NBA made its next move, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter accused the league of "bad-faith bargaining," saying that owners and coaches for teams in Miami, Boston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte, Houston and another unnamed team talked to players in an attempt to shift negotiations in the clubs' favor.

Hunter said the union will counter by sending the players' latest proposal to every general manager to see what they will think of the NBA's posture in this. He said the season may not begin until February.

"What they're doing is polling," Hunter said last night. "They're trying to see what kind of response to their proposal they can get from our players. But we don't have any concerns about that at all. We've kept our players very well informed."

NBA officials were unavailable for comment last night.

After Wednesday's negotiating session in New York, Stern, disgusted with what he termed "agent intervention," said he would lift a league-imposed gag order and allow team officials to talk to the players as a countermeasure against the union.

Almost immediately, players in Miami were contacted by Heat president and coach Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison. In Cleveland, GM Wayne Embry made the rounds. Boston Celtics president and coach Rick Pitino did his part, along with GM Chris Wallace and owner Paul Gaston. And in Milwaukee, it was new coach George Karl.

Before Wednesday, team officials who spoke to the players had the threat of a $1 million fine.

Lockout at a glance

Games lost yesterday: 9

Total games missed: 34

Earliest estimated date that season can start: Dec. 8

Negotiations: After a 1 1/2 -hour bargaining session yesterday, both sides agreed they were far apart and the union said it didn't expect another negotiating meeting for at least a week.

Projected player salary losses (through Dec. 8): $208 million.

Today's best canceled game: Utah at Houston. The teams have split four playoffs series since 1994.

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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