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."