Mon, Oct 10, 2011 - Page 18 News List

NBA stars play for charity as dispute threatens season

AFP, MIAMI

The 100th day of the NBA lockout on Saturday brought no sign of a resolution that could preserve the scheduled start of the season as a charity game in Miami gave fans a taste of what they could soon be missing.

The Miami Heat’s star trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh — along with some of their buddies from around the league — played before a sellout crowd of about 4,000 on a university campus.

“We want to show our fans it’s all for them,” Wade said. “We’re happy we can bring some kind of basketball to the fans.”

Wade and James played on opposing teams, with Wade’s team winning 141-140 in overtime.

Several such games have been played this summer, as the players who were locked out of team facilities when their last collective contract with the league expired looked around for something to do.

“I think we’re all starved for basketball right now,” Bosh said. “I was excited when we pulled up and we saw all these cars here and fans lined up. We felt great because people showed up.”

The good feelings could be well and truly gone today, however.

Today is the day NBA commissioner David Stern has warned the league would have to cancel the first two weeks of the regular season — scheduled to start on Nov. 1 — if no deal has been reached.

“We would like not to lose the first two weeks, but it doesn’t look good,” Stern said last week, as he completed the cancellation of all 114 pre-season games.

Team owners and players have not been able to agree on how to divide US$3.8 billion in annual revenues or on salary cap issues, with the gap so wide it could jeopardize the entire 2011-2012 campaign.

Stern noted the cancellation of regular-season games would likely harden the positions on both sides.

“When you start losing regular-season games on top of losses in the exhibition season, you have two parties that have been financially wounded,” he said.

Talks broke off when players were unwilling to accept a 50-50 split of basketball-related revenues, a substantial drop from the 57 percent they enjoyed under the previous contract.

Only once before has the NBA shortened a season because of financial issues.

NBA teams each played only 50 games in a truncated 1998-1999 campaign after more than two months were lost to bickering over money.

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