NEW YORK -- The NBA is making "tremendous progress" toward avoiding any possibility of a work stoppage -- with an assist from Michael Jordan.
While Adam Silver cautioned that a deal is "not done-done" yet, the commissioner optimistically reported that the NBA and the Players Association are closing in on an extension for the collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires in June 2021 but both sides have until Dec. 15 to opt out in 2017.
That sounds as if it won't be necessary, in part due to the cooperation between Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, with help from Jordan's clutch touch -- this time as owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
"Let me just single out one owner in particular, Michael Jordan," Silver said during his upbeat update on CBA negotiations this week following the Board of Governors meetings in Manhattan.
"I think having Michael Jordan as part of our negotiating committee, the unique perspective he brings to the bargaining table because of his playing career, having been, of course, a superstar player. Now for players to see him in that position, it doesn't mean that if Michael says it, it necessarily means that they accept that as the position they should take. But I think that's really added a special element unique to this league."
As a player, Jordan once famously snapped at former Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin during a 1998-99 labor meeting between players and owners when talks were contentious.
Now as an owner, Jordan's influence on the players is positive for the NBA, according to Silver.
"I think [Jordan's presence], that added an enormous amount to the atmosphere in the room," Silver said.
Before this current CBA, previous negotiations led to a five-month work stoppage that shortened the 2011-12 season by 16 games. But there is strong incentive for both owners and players to continue the current healthy state of affairs with contracts and TV money at unprecedented levels.
"We don't want to strike and they don't want to strike," the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, who serves on the union's executive committee, said recently. "So the best thing to do is really figure it out sooner rather than later."
"I think [in the 2011 negotiation] we were so far away from each other," Anthony later added. "You can feel the difference, you can see the difference, you can see the reaction, you can see the contact we're having, the information that's being sent on both sides. I think we're closer to getting something done. Hopefully it'll get done soon."
But Silver said the tone of negotiations has been better than in the past in large part due to his working relationship thus far with Roberts.
"Michele's word is we both agreed to be 'adults' in this process," Silver said. "... There hasn't been agreement on everything. I think there's been a healthy back and forth, but I think it's begun from a basis of trust. I credit Michele Roberts enormously with coming in with that perspective, with being very professional about how she and her colleagues and the players went about this negotiation."
"We're on our way toward getting an extension done of this collective bargaining agreement, and I'm very pleased to report that," Silver noted. "Hopefully we will be back to all of you in the not-too-distant future to say that negotiations have been completed, but we're not quite there yet. But I continue to be optimistic."