NBA labor talks hit a major wall


NBA labor talks hit a major wall

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Three days and 30 hours' worth of talks couldn't produce a new labor deal, so NBA owners and players walked away without knowing when they will meet again. That's happened a few times during the lockout, but this one felt different. There was a nasty tone, including accusations of lying, and an acknowledgement from Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver that he misjudged just how far apart the sides were. More games seem sure to be canceled, and the entire season could be in jeopardy. "I hate to use the expression gloves are off.' But for all intents and purposes, the gloves are off," players' association vice president Maurice Evans said. "With the press conference that they had -- don't want to get into he said, she said, but that just wasn't very accurate. It's evident of the time we spent in the room that we were here, we were bargaining, we were making progress. For it all to suddenly end -- that should speak volumes in itself." The sides remained divided over two main issues -- the division of revenues and the structure of the salary cap system. The dollars were the obstacle Thursday, after the system caused most recent breakdown. "We understand the ramifications of where we are," Silver said. "We're saddened on behalf of the game." Both sides had said there was progress on minor issues in the first two days in the presence of federal mediator George Cohen, and Silver said he brought more optimism than usual into Thursday's session. "But obviously I was disappointed and sort of maybe overestimated where it turns out we were," Silver said. Without a deal, NBA Commissioner David Stern, who missed Thursday's session with the flu, almost certainly will decide more games must be dropped. The season was supposed to begin Nov. 1, but all games through Nov. 14 -- 100 in total -- already have been scrapped, costing players about 170 million in salaries. Stern said previously that he thought games through Christmas were in jeopardy without a deal this week. Silver said the labor committee would speak with Stern on Friday about the future schedule, though no further cancellations are expected yet. Union officials were upset with Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt's account of the events and felt owners were never serious about trying to make a deal, with union executive director Billy Hunter saying the lockout was "preordained." "They knew when they presented what they were presenting to us that it wasn't going to fly," Hunter said. The union said owners essentially gave it an ultimatum to accept a 50-50 split of revenues. Attorney Jeffrey Kessler said the meeting was "hijacked." "We were shocked," he said. "We went in there trying to negotiate and they came in and they said you either accept 50-50 or we're done and we won't discuss anything else." Both sides praised Cohen and had honored his request not to speak about the process after the first two days. But it was clear by the time talks broke down that there were bad feelings. "We've spent the last few days making our best effort to try and find a resolution here. Not one that was necessarily a win-win. It wouldn't be a win for us. It wouldn't be a win for them. But one that we felt like would get our game back ... and get our guys back on the court, get our vendors back to work, get the arenas open, get these communities revitalized," union president Derek Fisher said. "And in our opinion, that's not what the NBA and the league is interested in at this point. They're interested in telling you one side of the stories that are not true and this is very serious to us. This is not in any way about ego. There are a lot of people's livelihoods at stake separate from us." Hunter said the union made "concession after concession after concession ... and it's just not enough." "We're not prepared to let them impose a system on us that eliminates guarantees, reduces contract lengths, diminishes all our increases," he said. "We're saying no way. We fought too long and made too many sacrifices to get where we are." Previously each side had proposed receiving 53 percent of basketball-related income after players were guaranteed 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement. Silver said the league formally proposed a 50-50 revenue split Wednesday. The union said its proposal would have been a band that would have allowed it to collect as much as 53 percent but no less than 50, based on the league's revenues. "Hopefully, we can get back to the table, but certainly a tough day, a very tough day," said Holt, the labor relations committee chair. Asked whether the players would drop to 50 percent, Holt said he didn't think it was that big of a jump but that the union did. He said the league would not go above 50 percent "as of today. But never say never on anything." Hunter said Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert told players to trust that if they took the 50-50 split, the salary cap issues could be worked out. Hunter's response? "I can't trust your gut. I got to trust my own gut," he said. "There's no way in the world I'm going to trust your gut on whether or not you're going to be open and amenable to making the changes in the system that we think are necessary and appropriate." Owners and players met with Cohen for 16 hours Tuesday, ending around 2 a.m. Wednesday, then returned just eight hours later and spent another 8 hours in discussions. The sides then met for about five hours Thursday, before calling it quits. "Am I worried about the season, per se? Yeah. But I'm more so worried about us standing up for what we believe in," New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack said. "I think that's the bigger issue at hand." Cohen didn't recommend that the two sides continue the mediation process as they weren't able to resolve the "strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues." Though the sides have said they believe bargaining is the only route to a deal, the process could end up in the courts. Each brought an unfair labor practice charge against the other with the National Labor Relations Board, and the league also filed a federal lawsuit against the union attempting to block it from decertifying. Union officials, so far, have been opposed to decertification, a route the NFL players initially chose during their lockout. However, Hunter said Thursday that "all of our options are on the table. Everything."

Cubs beat Dodgers, head home with 3-2 lead in NLCS


Cubs beat Dodgers, head home with 3-2 lead in NLCS


LOS ANGELES -- Jon Lester pitched seven sharp innings, Addison Russell hit a tiebreaking homer and the Chicago Cubs moved one win from their first World Series trip in 71 years by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 on Thursday.

The Cubs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the NL Championship Series and will have two chances to wrap up that elusive pennant back home at Wrigley Field.

"The city of Chicago has got to be buzzing pretty much right now," manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cubs' first opportunity to clinch comes Saturday night in Game 6, when Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw faces major league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks.

"That's a game we expect to win," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "This series certainly isn't over."

Emerging star Javier Baez was in the middle of everything for the Cubs, a common theme this October. The second baseman made a sensational defensive play when the game was still close in the seventh, and his three-run double capped a five-run eighth that made it 8-1.

After busting out of his postseason slump Wednesday, Russell hit a two-run homer for the second straight game. This one was a sixth-inning drive off losing pitcher Joe Blanton that gave Chicago a 3-1 lead.

By winning consecutive games in Los Angeles, the Cubs took control of the best-of-seven series after getting shut out in Games 2 and 3.

Of course, there's no need to remind longtime fans that the Cubs were in the same favorable position 13 years ago - heading home to Wrigley Field with a 3-2 lead in the NLCS.

But even with ace pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood starting the final two games, Chicago collapsed against the Marlins in one of its most excruciating failures.

More than a decade later, the franchise is still chasing its first World Series championship since 1908.

Baez had three of Chicago's 13 hits, matching the team's total in Game 4, when the Cubs snapped a 21-inning scoreless streak and won 10-2.

Lester allowed one run and five hits, improving to 2-0 in three playoff starts this year. He has given up two runs in 21 innings.

The left-hander struck out six and walked one.

Anthony Rizzo's run-scoring double gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first.

Los Angeles tied it in the fourth on Adrian Gonzalez's RBI groundout.

After scoring their first run, the Cubs stranded six runners through the first five innings before finding success against the Dodgers' third reliever.

Russell homered on an 0-1 pitch from Blanton, who gave up a single to Baez leading off the sixth. Baez stole second and scored on Russell's shot to center field that put the Cubs ahead on another unusually hot night at Dodger Stadium.

Chicago jumped on struggling Dodgers rookie Kenta Maeda from the start. Dexter Fowler singled leading off the game and scored on Rizzo's double to right two batters later.

Maeda gave up one run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked two in losing for the second time in three postseason starts. The right-hander has allowed eight earned runs in 10 2/3 innings with a 6.75 ERA over three appearances.

The Dodgers' defense fell apart in the eighth when the Cubs extended their lead to 8-1.

Gonzalez tried flipping Russell's slow roller to reliever Pedro Baez, who came over to cover first and bobbled the ball for an error.

Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras followed with a single, and the runners moved up on pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr.'s sacrifice bunt. Fowler reached on an infield single to first, with Gonzalez losing a foot race when Fowler slid into the bag, scoring Russell.

Kris Bryant reached on an infield single to third, with the Dodgers unsuccessfully challenging the call that he was safe.

The Dodgers thought they'd finally escaped the inning on a double play when Rizzo lined to Kike Hernandez, who forced Fowler at second. But the Cubs challenged the call and it was reversed, allowing Chicago to prolong the inning. Baez got yanked after walking Ben Zobrist to load the bases. Ross Stripling came on to face Baez, who doubled to deep right, driving in three more runs.

With the Dodgers trailing 3-1, Gonzalez found himself on the wrong end of a video review for the second straight game.

With Baez playing way out on the outfield grass in shallow right field, the slow-footed Gonzalez tried to take advantage with a drag bunt leading off the seventh. Baez rushed in for a barehanded scoop and off-balance throw, but Gonzalez initially was called safe by first base umpire Ted Barrett. The Cubs challenged and the call was overturned.

In Game 4, Gonzalez was tagged out at home to end the second after sliding with his left hand stretched toward the tip of the plate while Contreras applied the tag near Gonzalez's upper left arm. The Dodgers challenged, and the video review upheld umpire Angel Hernandez's call.


Vin Scully was back at Dodger Stadium for the first time since ending his 67-year career behind the microphone earlier this month.

The 88-year-old Hall of Fame announcer attended as a spectator and proclaimed, "It's time for Dodger baseball!" from an upstairs suite.


Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur isn't on the NLCS roster, but he's contributing. A day after his bat was borrowed by Rizzo to hit a home run, Szczur revealed during an in-game TV interview that Russell wore a pair of his underwear leggings Wednesday after leaving his own at home.


Dodgers: Kershaw takes the mound in Chicago on an extra day of rest. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance this postseason. Overall, the three-time Cy Young Award winner is 4-6 with a 4.39 ERA in 17 career playoff appearances.

Cubs: Hendricks' 2.13 ERA was tops in the majors this season. The right-hander allowed a solo homer in 5 1/3 innings of Game 2, his longest career postseason start. The Cubs lost 1-0 to Kershaw.

Ex-Stanford star hits WNBA title-winning shot for LA Sparks


Ex-Stanford star hits WNBA title-winning shot for LA Sparks

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nneka Ogwumike's short jumper with 3.1 seconds left gave the Los Angeles Sparks a 77-76 victory over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx for their first title in 14 years in the deciding game of the WNBA Finals on Thursday night.

The league MVP joined her teammates in celebration as a stunned crowd slowly filed out after finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Candace Parker had 28 points and 12 rebounds to earn MVP honors of the Finals. It was Parker's first WNBA title.

"She's been through so much," Ogwumike said of Parker. "She's probably the most misunderstood person in the league. I told her I wanted her to get one. She had an awesome game tonight. She's been our leader."

Parker said she listened to one of Pat Summitt's speeches before the game and that motivated her. Her former coach at Tennessee died in late June.

"She would have been proud of our rebounding. It came down to rebounding and defense," Parker said. "I could hear her voice telling me to keep going. She was definitely present tonight."

Rebekkah Brunson made one of two free throws with 23 seconds left to give the Lynx a 74-73 lead. Parker answered with a layup on the other end that Maya Moore countered with a jumper with 15 seconds remaining. Ogwumike's first try for the win was off the mark, but she worked her way over to the loose ball for another attempt that she coolly swished.

Lindsay Whalen's final shot from just inside halfcourt wasn't close, setting off Los Angeles' celebration as Parker and Sparks owner Magic Johnson embraced in a long hug.

Johnson spoke to the team after the loss at home in Game 4 on Sunday. His presence in Minnesota was all the more impressive considering the Dodgers, the other pro club he's invested in, were playing baseball in Los Angeles at the same time in Game 5 of their National League championship series.

"I told them the series wasn't over and that there was still a Game 5 to be played. They had to believe they could do it on a tough home court. This team Minnesota is tremendous," Johnson said. "We just beat the champions so I give them a lot of credit to. Our leaders led us and we had a great coach in Brian and they believed all season long. I told them this was their year. I wanted them to do it for Candace Parker. She deserves to be a champion. Great group of ladies."

Moore had 23 points and 11 assists for the Lynx, who fell short of matching the WNBA record of four championships. The Houston Comets won four straight titles from 1997-2000.

The Lynx played in the finals for the fifth time in the last six years. They won three.

Parker finally had help with the scoring when reserve Chelsea Gray reeled off 11 consecutive points for the Sparks. Gray capped that run with a smooth up-and-under layup to put them in front 60-59 early in the fourth quarter. Parker's putback with 3:06 left gave L.A. a 71-63 lead, putting the Lynx in trouble.

But Moore seized the moment with a 3-pointer that brought Minnesota within four points, and Parker forced an off-balance 3 on the other end.

Whalen stole the ball from Kristi Toliver and finished the fast break with a layup to tie the game at 71, setting up the final flurry.

On the next play, Ogwumike hit a jumper that appeared to come after the shot clock expired. The officials signaled for a review, but never looked at the basket and Los Angeles led 73-71 with just over a minute left.

The WNBA's new postseason format with the field ordered by overall record regardless of conference sure worked well, leading to this classic matchup between the two teams that fought all summer for the top seed and featuring several of the league's biggest stars.

The game was remarkably close, with 11 lead changes and six ties in the first half alone. Moore gave Minnesota its biggest lead of the first 20 minutes with a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of the second quarter to make it 34-28.

The Sparks had an opportunity for a surge when Sylvia Fowles exited with an injury to her right hand, scoring on a fast break while Fowles was wincing in pain by the bench and out of the play and then picking up a bonus point on a free throw for Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve's technical foul.

Augustus and Renee Montgomery knocked down 3-pointers from the top of the key down the stretch of the third quarter, though, and Fowles soon re-entered the game. She made her presence felt with a powerful take to the rim for a layup and a 53-47 lead.


Ogwumike joined Toliver and Essence Carson with three fouls in the first half and played less than 4 minutes in the second quarter.


If the finals return to Minnesota next year, the Lynx could have yet another place in which to try to pop the corks with a major renovation set for Target Center next summer. They'll play across the Mississippi River in St. Paul at Xcel Energy Center, the hockey home of the Minnesota Wild.