Ailing Stern to miss NBA labor talks

The marathon NBA bargaining sessions have taken their toll on Commissioner David Stern.

Stern was sent home Thursday by his doctor with the flu and was not be available to join afternoon negotiations with players in person, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Silver handled a news conference after the league’s Board of Governors meeting, where he said it was ”unclear” to him whether an 82-game schedule was still possible.

Trying to end the lockout, owners and players met with federal mediator George Cohen for 16 hours Tuesday, ending around 2 a.m. Wednesday, then returned just eight hours later and spent another 8 1/2 hours in discussions.

”I’m sure David’s flu was not helped, his symptoms were not helped by the fact that we had several late nights this week,” Silver said. ”I know the various members of the media who’ve been there with us as well, so it’s been a long week for anybody, but particularly with our Board of Governors meetings and negotiations, and he just got a little bit worn down.”

Silver said Stern would still be working from home and would be an ”active participant,” perhaps taking part in a conference call.

The first two weeks of the season have been scrapped, and Stern has said it will be difficult to play the canceled games later because arenas are filling the dates with other events. Silver said the released dates after the cancellations were filled ”almost instantaneously.”

But he left open the possibility it could get done if a new labor deal comes soon.

”There’s no doubt that once we come to an agreement with the players’ association, we will have a common interest in putting together as complete a schedule as possible, and whether or not an 82-game schedule is still possible is unclear to me,” Silver said. ”As David has said previously, we’ve just lost part of the calendar. I think that’s part of the pressure on both sides.”

Owners met Wednesday and Thursday and discussed their plans for expanded revenue sharing, which they plan to implement after they have completed the collective bargaining agreement. Stern has said they hope to at least triple the amount teams share annually, and Silver said there would be ”roughly $150 million” annually in the new program.

The union has sought to make revenue sharing part of the CBA, but Silver repeated that it can’t be finalized until after the negotiations with the players. Stern and Silver have both said they have kept the players updated on their progress.

”The CBA discussions have not been held up in any way based on revenue sharing,” Silver said.

Silver said little about the state of the negotiations, as both sides have honored Cohen’s request to stay mum. Without a deal soon, further cancellations would become necessary.

”Owners want to play, but at the same time they want to ensure that we accomplish what we set out to accomplish in a new collective bargaining agreement, so it’s a balance,” Silver said.