After 15 hours of meetings, “some progress” in NBA labor talks

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I’ve got to say this for the owners and players, when they sit down to talk they don’t get up.

NBA owners and players union representatives met for more than 15 hours in New York Wednesday — going until 3:20 a.m. Thursday morning. The two sides will get back at it on Thursday at 2 p.m. (with David Stern saying he would have a conference call with the owners Labor Relations Committee prior that).

Out of all that we have a glimmer of hope.

“The energy in the room has been good, the back and forth has been good,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said

Through the day Thursday there were multiple reports that the two sides made progress discussing “system issues” — things such as the luxury tax and length of contracts. Both sides confirmed that.

“We were able to work through a number of different issues today regarding our system,” union president Derek Fisher said. “We can’t say that major progress was made in any way but there was some progress on some of our system issues.”

That leaves the big issue — the split of revenue, or basketball related income (BRI) — untouched. BRI was not discussed at all on Wednesday, both sides confirmed.

“I think we’ll turn to the split when we finish with the system…” Stern said. “Right now it has been profitable to turn to the system.”

In the old system the players got 57 percent of BRI, they have offered to come down to 52.5 percent, but the owners have not budged off 50 percent. The system issues the two sides discussed would impact salaries and BRI, but at the end of the day the split is the key issue.

However, some in the negotiations believe that if they can solve the system issues the BRI will become easier and almost fall into place.

Maybe. Maybe not. What is undeniable is this bargaining session left a general sense of optimism that things might be moving forward again.

Remember, however, that this has been the pattern in the past. When it is a small group led by Stern and Hunter progress is made, but when that progress is presented to larger groups of players or owners that is when things blow up. That is when the hardliners step in.

Still, “some progress” will lead to some hope we will see NBA basketball soon.

“I can’t describe (the progress made) other than to say it’s better than not making any progress at all,” Stern said.