Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NBA Turns the Key on Players in Wake of Scuttled Deal, Lockout to Begin Today

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NBA Turns the Key on Players in Wake of Scuttled Deal, Lockout to Begin Today

Article excerpt

The National Basketball Association, enveloped in the same labor turmoil that hurt baseball and hockey, was to lock out its players starting at 12:01 a.m. today, beginning the first work stoppage in its history.

The lockout prohibits teams from negotiating or signing contracts with free agents and the rookies selected in Wednesday's draft. No summer leagues or tryouts will be conducted, and players will not be permitted to work out at team facilities.

"It affects players as far as any payments that might be due and benefits" such as health insurance, deputy commissioner Russ Granik said.

With the league unable to reach a new labor deal with its players, Commissioner David Stern said the NBA was taking a painful but necessary step.

"It's a shame that the success we and our players have enjoyed as a result of working together is now in jeopardy," Stern said in a statement Friday afternoon.

It was the third work stoppage to affect major league sports in the last 12 months. Baseball players went on strike last Aug. 12, and NHL owners locked out their players Sept. 30, forcing cancellation of 468 games and a delay in the season.

The NBA had been operating under a no-strike, no-lockout agreement reached last Oct. 27 with its players. But that pact, already extended when the playoffs ended, was set to expire at midnight Friday.

The two sides seemingly had a deal 10 days ago, but opposition to the proposal by Michael Jordan and other big-name players divided the union and scuttled a ratification vote.

Despite the lockout, Granik said the league is willing to continue labor negotiations.

Simon Gourdine, the union's executive director, said he still thought an agreement was possible. No talks between the league and the Players Association were scheduled.

"We all realize next season's at risk, and we have to try to make a deal," Granik said.

On June 21, the league and the union announced a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expired in June 1994. It called for added revenues that would be shared with players, a rise in the salary cap from $15 million to $23 million, a luxury tax intended to tighten the cap and a rookie salary cap. …

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