Stern voices optimism about future of league
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
WASHINGTON — Commissioner David Stern says the NBA and union might have to make "some adjustments" to the labor contract when it expires in two years, but he foresees no "doomsday scenario" for the league because of the current economic crisis.
Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale said recently the NBA had entered its own "Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac era of subprime loans" because of player salaries. He added that players will need to make substantial concessions at the bargaining table.
Agent David Falk predicted to The New York Times that the next round of talks will be "very, very extreme," and owners could shut down the league for a year or two if the players don't agree to the owners' demands.
"I'd just say the 'doomsday scenario' is that the NBA is somehow going to be irretrievably damaged by some event or another," Stern said Monday at George Washington University, where Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin was inducted into the School of Business Sports Executives Hall of Fame. "The predictions of the demise of the NBA were frequent and profound [over the years], and they've always been wrong."
Last month, the NBA lined up $200 million to distribute to teams needing additional cash.
"We've managed to keep the ship afloat, and I think we will continue to do that this time," Stern said. "I'm not unduly pessimistic. I think when we see where this economy comes out, there may be some adjustments that are necessary at the team level and at the league level. But I think that in our players and in our union, we find a group of realists that are sensitive of the needs of our fans and our sponsors, and I'm optimistic from that perspective that we will be able to ultimately work something out.
"I'm not optimistic or pessimistic about the economy, I'm just assuming the worst and hoping for the best as we seek to stabilize ourselves amid a storm of difficult economic times."
Stern said revenues will be "up a percent or 2" for this season, but he is "quite concerned" about next year.
"We certainly see that our sponsors are hurting, and we're working really hard to do what we can to minimize that hurt and to keep our business going."