NBA city mayors push for new CBA

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NBA city mayors push for new CBA

NEW YORK We have heard from many of the NBA players. We have heard NBA Commissioner David Stern speak on behalf of the NBA's owners.

But the voices of those who will arguably suffer the most due to the lockout, has been relatively silent . . . until now.

On Tuesday, news broke that the City of Memphis plans to "explore all options" in recovering the money the city may have lost due to the NBA lockout, which has already wiped out the entire preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.

And now less than 24 hours later, a letter signed by 14 mayors in NBA cities - including Sacramento's Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player - urges the NBA and the players to broker a deal quickly.

"We know the issues being discussed between NBA owners and players are complex and need to be addressed to ensure the long-term well being of the league," the letter reads. "We are not interested in taking a side. Rather, we respectfully ask that you consider the consequences to our cities should the lockout continue. We ask that you work quickly to find a way to compromise so that we might salvage the upcoming season."

Those two developments, maybe more than anything else happening in New York, may become factors that can accelerate a new CBA being hammered out soon.

With the entire preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season already canceled, Stern hinted last week that games scheduled for Christmas might not be played if an agreement were not in place by Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Stern was part of a bargaining session with the union that lasted more than 16 hours, easily the longest session thus far during the lockout.

But when it was over, Stern and NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter declined to comment, citing a gag order placed on everyone in the meeting by federal mediator George Cohen.

Both sides as well as Cohen were back at it Wednesday, hoping to continue pushing towards a new CBA. After TuesdayMonday morning's 16-hour marathon session, both sides returned to the table on Wednesday for another round of talks that lasted more than eight hours. Cohen said the two sides would meet again on Thursday afternoon, marking the first time both sides have met for three consecutive days.

After the meeting, Cohen told reporters that both sides were "extremely focused" on the issues, and added that the meetings had been "direct and constructive."

But meeting on Wednesday was a bit tricky because of the league's Board of Governors meeting, which began on Wednesday.

At one point, Stern, as well as some of the league's owners - among them was Boston's Wyc Grousbeck, who is also the Chair of the NBA's Planning Committee - had to leave the bargaining session with the players to attend to another meeting among the Board of Governors.

Among the topics discussed among the owners was revenue-sharing.

It's especially important to small-market teams like Memphis, whose ability to repay the bonds used to build the FedEx Forum, depend heavily on games being played.

"If it gets to be half a season, that's a big problem," Allan Wade, the council's attorney, told BusinessWeek.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

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Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”