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After taking six days apart from one another, the NBA and the NBA Player's Association spent more than 15 hours at the bargaining table on Wednesday (and into Thursday). These extended labor negotiations, the first since last Thursday's epic failure inside a different swanky New York City hotel, began at high noon and went past 3 a.m.
When the session finally broke apart (this time without vitriol), the two sides seemed to have made at least some progress toward their next collective bargaining agreement -- and toward saving the NBA season. Although an agreement has certainly not yet been reached, progress was made on system issues, and the potential for a deal seems to exist.
The two sides have agreed to continue meeting on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Wednesday's meeting produced guarded optimism after months filled mostly with frustration and pessmism.
The NBA Player's Union spoke first, at approximately 3:30 a.m. The NBA spoke afterward, beginning at approximately 3:45 a.m.
NBA commissioner David Stern called the day a "solid day of negotiations" and union president Derek Fisher and union chief Billy Hunter said, "Depending on how much progress is made tomorrow, we'll be prepared to discuss specifics of a deal."
Both sides seemed to agree that an outside possibility existed -- if a deal was reached sometime in the next few days -- that a full 82-game schedule could still be played. Stern said he's expressed to the union that, given all of the considerations, the league will do its best to play as many games as possible, whether that's a full 82-game schedule or something very close to it no one could yet say.
Fisher and Hunter said Wednesday's session focused primarily on the system issues and didn't touch the split of basketball revenue (BRI). Neither side would go into detail about progress made, saying that until a full deal was reached, it made no sense to become excited over progress made on other issues.
"I think we'll turn to the split when we finish with the system," Stern said.
"I have a pretty good idea on what they would like, and we'll be back at 2 p.m. to see what we can do for them," Stern said.
Although the lengthy bargaining session produced a certain level of optimism, both sides made sure to temper any enthusiasm. Stern said: "I can't describe it other than to say it's better than not making any progress at all." And when Fisher was asked about the possibility that a deal was near, Fisher cautiouned that huge system hurdles still existed.
"There's no deal on anything unless there's a deal on everything," Stern concluded.
The negotiations will continue tomorrow -- today, Thursday -- at 2 p.m.
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