NBA players gather for awards show, union meeting
LAS VEGAS (AP) NBA commissioner Adam Silver insists a ''significant number'' of teams are losing money. But several players waking the red carpet Sunday night at the National Basketball Players Association's Players Awards insist they need to see proof before they believe Silver's claim.
''I've got to see that for myself,'' said Chris Paul, the president of the players' union. ''This is probably one of the first years I didn't really pay too much attention. I think this summer was more about trying to relax and enjoy my family a little bit. But we have a number of things we want to talk about, obviously some a little more important than others.''
Paul said the agenda is clear what the union will discuss, but declined to elaborate, or prioritize, the issues the players will tackle during union business on Monday. Nevertheless, Silver's comments last week during a board of governors meeting was a prime topic among the union members who were on the red carpet.
''I can't agree with that,'' Nazr Mohammed said about Silver's claim. ''I think the league is as healthy as it's ever been. Teams are worth more than they've ever been. The Clippers just went for $2 billion. I think it's hard to say that especially when you networks willing to give us the type of money they are to watch our games.''
Said the union's executive director, Michelle Roberts: ''This is an important time for the game, and it is critical that we have marquee players involved in the discussion. While I'm going to enjoy tonight (at the awards show), I'm really going to enjoy tomorrow (during the union meeting).''
Both Paul and Roberts said having LeBron James directly involved in discussions will help strengthen talks and provide confidence with the younger players who may be encountering their first collective bargaining agreement discussion.
''Obviously me and `Bron talk about it every day,'' Paul said. ''He's the face of our league. His opinion matters. Our players listen when he talks. It'll be great to have him in there. One thing about Bron too is, when he commits to something he's always passionate about it, so I know his voice will be heard.''
It's too early to tell if either side will opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017, which would open the door for another round of negotiations. And while that's still two years away, the question of a lockout was presented to other players who were making their way down the red carpet.
''I've been around long enough and I know there's a lot of posturing that goes on during this process,'' Mohammed said. ''There's going to be things said that can be supported by numbers, but sometimes the numbers don't always give out the real facts. Hopefully they're going to let us see their books and we'll see exactly what they mean by that.''
Everyone attending the first-ever players' awards remained upbeat and were in good spirits heading into the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio Hotel. The NBPA launched its inaugural awards ceremony after union members expressed a desire to vote for categories similar to the ones voted upon by media.
The awards show will air Tuesday on BET.