NBA stars say they want to get season started
Not even the NBA's biggest stars know when professional basketball will be back.
Their uncertainty mirrors that of fans, arena employees, agents and league executives throughout the country.
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The prevailing belief is that the league's labor dispute, which has led to a 4 1/2-month-long lockout, could linger and keep the NBA closed for business for quite sometime.
“I'm definitely confident we're going to have a season,” said Thunder guard James Harden. “I just don't know when.”
Players like Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay shared Harden's sentiments following the US Fleet Tracking Basketball invitational Sunday night, an All-Star game of sorts hosted by Durant.
“We like playing these games for the fans, but we'd rather be doing our jobs,” said Gay, the Memphis Grizzlies star. “This is fun, but of course we want to get back to work. We're sorry to the fans for the long wait, but we're looking for a fair deal and that'll happen soon enough.”
But how soon is soon enough? How much longer must venues like the renovated Chesapeake Energy Arena sit idle on fall nights?
“I don't know,” said Anthony, the New York Knicks All-Star. “You're asking the wrong person.”
In this case, the powers that be are NBA commissioner David Stern and his 30 owners who have imposed this lockout and player union director Billy Hunter. Talks between the two sides broke off last week following 30 hours of negotiations over three days when the union refused to accept a 50-50 split in the league's gross basketball-related income.
Under the old collective bargaining agreement, players were guaranteed to receive 57 percent of the league's revenues. After holding firm at a concession of 53 percent for weeks, the union last Thursday reduced that number to 52.5 percent but had it rejected by owners.
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