NBA turns to mediation to help speed up labor deal

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NBA turns to mediation to help speed up labor deal

NEW YORK The NBA lockout is on the verge of taking a turn that may very well be the game-changer both sides have been looking for to get the process of reaching a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement going.

And his name is George H. Cohen.

Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, will serve as a mediator between the two sides this week.

He'll meet with NBA commissioner David Stern and NBAPA's Executive Director Billy Hunter in separate meetings on Monday. On Tuesday, Cohen is scheduled to have a joint meeting with both sides.

While Cohen doesn't have the authority to make either side do or say anything, his intervention may be just what both sides need to cut down on the rhetoric, and actually move closer towards a new CBA that would endthe league's second work stoppage.

When it comes to mediating high-profile sports leagues, there are few, if any, in the same class as Cohen.

Cohen has been involved in mediating disputes between Major League Soccer and its players union, and more recently the NFL and its lockout, which didn't cost any regular-season games but certainly had an impact by limiting what teams did in the offseason.

Here's a closer snapshot of the man that just might be the key to bringing NBA basketball back this season.

Name: George H. Cohen

Title: Director, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (October 8, 2009-present).

Bio: In addition to the NFL and MLS, Cohen has also mediated disputes between the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, as well as the American Red Cross and national coalition of labor unions; served as appellate court attorney with the National Labor Relations Board.

Education: Cornell University and its law school; has an LLM degree from Georgetown University Law school. From the mid-1970s thru 2005, was an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law School where he taught the Art of Collective Bargaining, Labor Law and Professional Sports and The Law of Occupational Safety and Health."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."