Players stress unity after Las Vegas meeting

The AP reports:

derek fisher

NBA players will remain unified and calm in what could be a lengthy pursuit of a labor agreement, union president Derek Fisher vowed Thursday.

About 40 players got an update on collective bargaining talks from Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter in what Fisher described as “a very colorful and engaging meeting” at a casino. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith also spoke to the players, who were mostly in town to play in an Impact Basketball academy league.

“There is not the fracture and the separation amongst our group that in some ways has been reported,” said Fisher, the Los Angeles Lakers point guard. “We just want to continue to reiterate that point.”

The players echoed their leaders’ stance, promising they won’t allow the union to splinter when the players start missing paychecks in a few weeks. NBPA members have been educated for several years about the steps necessary to survive a long lockout, and Fisher said the union will continue to protect the rights of players who sign overseas this fall.

“I’ve never seen this union as strong as we are collectively right now,” said Boston Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal, among the few remaining players who participated in the 1998-99 labor dispute. “A lot of our young guys are wide-eyed when they see the numbers at first, but now they’re educated. We don’t need to make a temporary, emotional decision. We need to make a long-term decision for a bigger purpose.”

Pistons retain Brian Hill, finalize coaching staff

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports:


The Detroit Pistons have completed their search for assistant coaches.

Brian Hill, who spent the last two seasons under former coach John Kuester, will return to the bench under new coach Lawrence Frank.

He joins John Loyer, Roy Rogers and Dee Brown on Frank’s staff.

Hill, 63, is an NBA veteran, having served as a head coach with the Orlando Magic (1993-97 and 2005-07) and the Vancouver Grizzlies (1997-99).

Bill Bayno to be hired as Timberwolves assistant coach for Rick Adelman

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:


Rick Adelman hasn’t been introduced yet as Wolves coach, but his staff is starting to take shape:

According to league sources, Portland assistant coach Bill Bayno is expected to join a staff that also could include  Adelman’s son R.J., Jack Sikma and T.R. Dunn from Adelman’s Houston staff.

Bayno, 49, is a former UNLV and Loyola Marymount head coach who also was a longtime assistant for John Calipari at UMass.

Bayno worked as a graduate assistant under P.J. Carlesimo at Seton Hall and Larry Brown at Kansas early in his career.  He has worked two stints with the Blazers as a scout, player personnel coach and assistant coach and also has knocked around the American Basketball Association, the Continental Basketball Association and a league in the Philippines.

Amare Stoudemire working out with Isiah Thomas at FIU

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports (via blog):

amare stoudemire

Amar’e Stoudemire has been spending some quality time with Isiah Thomas.

ESPN reported that Stoudemire was working out at FIU which happens to be the school Isiah coaches when he isn’t serving as a de facto GM of the Knicks.

There were several NBA players working out at FIU, including Atlanta’s Joe Johnson. None of this is surprising since FIU is located in a favored city among NBA players: Miami.

Plus, Isiah continues to share a close relationship with some of the league’s top players. That would including Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e and more importantly, Chris Paul.

This is the reason James Dolan continues to lean on Isiah for advice, even though Isiah doesn’t have an official position with the Knicks. (If he did, Isiah would be in violation of NBA bylaws for having contact with players during the lockout).

VP of players union Roger Mason says a lost season is absolutely possible

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News blog reports:

Late last week, thanks to a tweet both misplaced and misconstrued, Roger Mason Jr. became the inadvertent face of hope in the NBA players union’s ongoing labor battle with league owners.

By Wednesday afternoon, hope had seemed to vanish from Mason’s vocabulary.

Calling the good vibes that led up to Tuesday’s stalled bargaining session with owners “a false sense of optimism,” Mason — vice president of the players union and a former Spurs guard — said there was “absolutely” a possibility the entire 2011-12 season will be erased by the lockout.

“I’m an optimistic person at heart,” Mason said after a game in the Impact Competitive Basketball Series in Las Vegas. “But what would make me think we’d have a season?” …

“Right now, it’s looking like we’re going to miss training camp and some preseason games,” Mason said. “Unless some things change, we could lose the season. There’s no reason for me to think otherwise.”

Joe Johnson has a 500-square foot shoe closet with a fingerprint sensor

Joe Johnson

Here is Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson speaking to Stacey Pressman of ESPN the Magazine on his huge shoe collection and the massive closet it lives in:

“I wanted to display all of my shoes, so I had this 500-square-foot closet made. I just thought this would be a cool idea, and it would almost look like a museum. I had a fingerprint sensor put on the door to make sure I’m the only one who can get in here. I mostly wear Air Jordans. All of the Jordan guys are selected by Michael Jordan himself. It’s kind of hard to tell MJ no. I have 436 pairs of sneakers in here, and they’re mostly unworn. I’ll wear all of them eventually.”

And, here’s Johnson on some of his jewelry:

“I bought this chain 10 years ago when I was 20. It’s probably worth at least $150,000 now. It reminds me of the decisions I made when I was younger. I still like the chain and still wear it sometimes, but it’s not a purchase I would make today.”

Players Union president Derek Fisher writes letter to players

NBA players union president Derek Fisher has written a letter to all the players, setting the record straight on a few key NBA lockout-related issues.

The letter was obtained by Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated:

Derek Fisher’s Letter to Players:

To Each & Every Player,

After the latest round of meetings, I thought it would be best to update you personally as to where the leadership of the National Basketball Players Association stands, where the negotiations stand where we are headed and the reasons why.

Without a doubt, someone will be leaking this. I know it. The moment you read this you will know it. So, I say all with the fullest transparency.

I was elected as your President. By you. For you. I take great pride and am honored to serve the over 400 members of our association. I and our Executive Committee take this job and this role seriously and will not agree to an unfair deal on behalf of you and our players. Period.

I’m not looking out just for the marquee guy, I’m looking out for the guy that dreams of being a professional basketball player and gets a minimum deal. I’m not just trying to protect the guy on a team in a huge market. I’m protecting the player that is in a small market with incredibly loyal fans.

I’ve made it clear, I want to play. You have each made it clear, you want to play. The fans have been unwavering, they want their basketball. The thousand of employees that work in the arenas, the ticket offices, the concession stands, they want a season. We all want to go back to work.

The league and the team owners have locked us out. This was not our choice. Our employers decided to stop allowing us to do our jobs.

My job since July 1st is to find a solution. To find an outcome that protects each of you and your livelihoods and continues to allow us to play the game we love so much and the fans love supporting.

Since before the lockout began, I have spent hours upon hours, days, months, years, working on preparing you, the fans and the media about the possibilities. Now as the lockout has set in, reality of the situation is here.

The most recent meetings in New York were effective. What you have been told by your agents, representatives and the media is probably speculative and inaccurate.

What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides. The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.

So it is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement we as a smaller group deemed reasonable.

Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I’d like to address it. I’ve read yesterday’s stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I’ve answered their questions, I’ve been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I’m working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don’t make a commission, I don’t make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.

It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives.

I work every day on these negotiations. I work so that each player from Blake Griffin to Tyler Hansbrough, Pau Gasol to De’Andre Jordan, Dwight Howard to Jrue Holiday, Taj Gibson to Danny Granger, Steve Nash to Luke Babbit and every single player get a fair and reasonable deal. Not just for this year, not just for next year but for years to come. So that the league that WE the players largely helped build, continues to grow and thrive.

So to address the agents that have decided to say their piece yesterday, I don’t mind. Perhaps they are trying to make news. Perhaps they just want to show you, their clients, they are working hard. But what would be appreciated by the 400+ players would be the support of our agents and constructive ideas, suggestions and solutions that are in our best interests. Not the push for a drastic move that leaves their players without a union, without pensions, without health care. We just aren’t there.

I will remain committed to finding resolution to this because I know how important this is. I ask you to remain united with me and your over 400 allies, friends, brothers and colleagues. We are a powerful group if we remain united and focused on the task at hand.

I urge every single one of you to call me, text me, email me with anything. An idea, a suggestion, a concern, a question. I represent you. I work for you.

So to each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this…I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15 year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much. I’m a teammate, I’m a father, I’m a son, I’m a husband, I’m a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask each of you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive. We’re ready.



NBA reaches labor deal with referees

The NBA has announced the following to and other media:

The NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association announced today that they have entered into a new labor agreement.

The five-year agreement, which will run through the 2015-2016 season, has been ratified by the NBA Board of Governors and by the NBRA.

The AP reports:

The NBA and its referees agreed to a new five-year deal Thursday, just two years after a contract dispute nearly caused the league to open the season with replacements.

A person familiar with the negotiations says the referees approved the deal last week, and owners are scheduled to vote on it later Thursday at their meeting in Dallas. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been approved yet.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports:

The existing two-year labor agreement between the NBA and referee’s union expired Sept. 1, and the league was facing the possibility of using replacement officials for the second time in the past four years. Replacement referees were used in the 2009-10 preseason, but a deal was ratified before opening night of the season.

This agreement clears the way for the NBA to focus solely on its negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA locked out the players on July 1, and talks have broken down between the two sides. It appears almost impossible for the NBA’s training camps to open as scheduled on Oct. 3.

LeBron James plays touch football game in NYC park

Sam Gardner of Fox Sports Florida reports:

When Brian Eduardo took the field for his weekly flag football game Monday night at Chelsea Park in New York City, he expected it to be just like every other Monday night, and it was.

lebron james

That is, until LeBron James showed up.

Eduardo was one of about 40 people playing in a New York City Social Sports Club league that had just wrapped up their games for the night when the 6-foot-8 Miami Heat forward happened to walk by and asked if he could play.

“Our games were done,” Eduardo said. “We were putting our flags away and he stepped up to everybody and said, ‘Hey, are you guys done?’ and we looked up and we were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s LeBron James. No, no, no, we’re not done, we’re not done.’ ”

Minutes later, two of the four teams in attendance — the Untouchables and WRTL — were on the field for a two-hand touch game with LeBron.

James played on Untouchables side of the ball and Eduardo played for the WRTL team as the other two squads watched from the sidelines. LeBron played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back, and — as you might expect — he did just fine.