Monday, October 31, 2011

NBA Lockout Day 123

Yes, there's other news aside from Kris Humphries and that irrelevant woman splitting up. Like still suffering through an NBA stoppage. I've been saving this demoralizing '98 Lockout video for a rough period in negotiations. Well, we're about there. Long meetings, 'optimism', and a depressed Stern were all present 13 years ago. Now if only that homeless beard carried over to today. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On This Day, October 30th: NBA Lockout Day 122 & the ABL


This is my throw-away post. Here's a Shannon Rose write-up of the American Basketball League and how the ladies were dreaming of satisfying disappointed NBA fans. Stern's WNBA would always be superior though, and the ABL shut down on December 22, 1998 to I'm sure quite a lot of surprised people. The only good thing that came out of the Sentinel on this morning was George Diaz's anger-filled first paragraph

Without getting into a spitting match over whether the WNBA or the American Basketball League is the better comodity, let's just say the ABL has a tremendous opportunity right now.

As the NBA squabbles over lucrative paychecks and continues to be on strike, the ABL could wind up with the chance to steal all of the limelight by being the only professional basketball league in action.

It's a possibility not lost on ABL co-founder and CEO Gary Cavalli as the ABL gets ready to kick off its third season Nov. 5 with the Philadelphia Rage at the New England Blizzard in Hartford, Conn.

``We plan to exploit that opportunity as much as we can,'' Cavalli said.

The ABL is already running print ads in some of its franchise cities that read ``Looking for pro hoops? We're playing.'' Cavalli got some bitter calls from NBA folks about that one.

But there is no reason for him to be sensitive right now. It's time to call in all the troops, time to go after the fans, the media, the television market and sponsors with gusto.

The ABL has all of the characterists of the underdog everybody loves to support, it just needs center stage to tell everyone its story.

It's been tough for the ABL to compete during the traditional basketball season with the NBA and college hoops stealing most of the glamour.

But now, with a new contract with CBS Sports and the possibility of adding other networks to the mix with the NBA lockout, the ABL could have the undivided attention of the country to sell its product.

Unlike the WNBA, which had the NBA's financial backing and name recognition, the ABL started from scratch and has built this league with the help of a lot of different people.

But mainly the players, who have been the backbone throughout the league's existence. The ABL prides itself on its players, using the motto ``Real Basketball.''

Though it's been hurt by the defection of players like Dawn Staley and Nikki McCray, the ABL turns it around and focuses on the players who have stayed.

Eighty-five players had their contracts expire. Eighty-one signed extensions. Among them: Jennifer Azzi, Jennifer Rizzotti, Teresa Edwards and Shalonda Enis, the 1997-98 Rookie of the Year. She signed a four-year contract extension.

The players' loyality have in turn created some loyality by the management. Cavalli said he has had opportunities to steal away WNBA stars but refused to meet their financial demands, which sometimes extended the salaries of the founding players.

``It's a matter of principle,'' Cavalli said.

The commitment got even stronger recently as the Board of Directors unanimously voted to make Edwards, the only four-time Olympian, a part of the seven-member board.

``We believe in this league,'' Edwards said. ``We had an original idea. We started this thing.''

Certainly, the ABL has had its trying times. The Long Beach franchises was shutdown, other teams had to be moved to new cities. But what business doesn't make mistakes along the way?

The ABL increased attendance by 23 percent, up to a 4,900 average (excluding Long Beach's figures) and expects to average more than 5,500 this year.

The ABL has proven to look toward the future while still providing security and benefits in the present. The league's salaries range from $40,000 to $150,000. The players also are awarded stock options, letting them own part of their own league, and have 401K plans.

All of that while the ABL has lost millions of dollars in its first two seasons and expects to lose another million this season. It projects to break even after its fourth season.

But the ABL isn't about money, exposure or television commercials. It's about players.

``I'm so excited I could care less if we are on TV or not,'' Edwards said. ``I just want to toss it up.''

Don't hear that from many NBA players.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On This Day, October 29th: NBA Lockout Day 121 & MJ's Negotiation Role


Remind me not to believe in any of Billy Hunter's predictions. He assumed Michael Jordan wouldn't retire because of his Airness' massive involvement in these player-owner sit-downs. Interesting that MJ now-a-days isn't very vocal since he's moved to the other side of the table. Still waiting on an NBA superstar to truly step up.

NEW YORK - By suddenly taking such an active role in the labor negotiations that have paralyzed the NBA, Michael Jordan may have tipped his hand concerning his future plans.

When - or if - this season ever starts, Jordan likely will be in uniform again with the Chicago Bulls. His retirement talk isn't being taken very seriously anymore.

``When we get this thing settled, we can expect Michael Jordan to come back,'' said union Executive Director Billy Hunter after spending the past few days with him. ``He hasn't exactly said that, but I'm prepared to predict it.''

After three days of bargaining, the league and the union took off Thursday, with both sides huddling to re-evaluate their latest positions. Their last bargaining session - which went on for eight hours - ended Thursday at 1:05 a.m.

The only discussion later in the day was a phone conversation between Jeffrey Kessler, outside counsel for the union, and Jeffrey Mishkin, the NBA's lead attorney. Although there is no scheduled bargaining session for today, both sides said that one could be set up quickly in the morning.

``At least we've got some great dialogue going right now,'' Jordan said after the latest session ended early Thursday. ``In terms of how close and how far away we are, that's hard to determine right now. We're starting to understand each other's position. Is that improvement? Yes, I would say so.''

Jordan has been non-committal about whether he would play again, but his actions suggest otherwise. He gave an emotional speech to the union membership last week in Las Vegas, then he dominated their meeting Wednesday in New York.

The labor/management battle has sparked his competitive desire.

``I owe it to the union as a veteran to step forward,'' Jordan said. ``It's a pride thing. I want the players of tomorrow to have the same opportunities that I had.''

Although Jordan is neither an officer in the players union nor a member of its negotiating team, he was very active in the two bargaining sessions Wednesday. And he expects to return for the next one.

``It's not the players who caused this. We want to play. We'll play with the old rules,'' Jordan said. ``I think the owners just want to maximize their profits. There's money to be made. But why penalize us because the owners can't control their own spending?''

The two sides have settled on much of the framework of the system they want. It's the split of the money involved - what percentage of revenues the players will receive in salary - that they are negotiating.

The owners have backed away from an earlier insistence that player salaries be reduced from 57 percent to 48 percent during the new agreement. The players, meanwhile, have come down from the 63 percent they originally wanted.

``There are still some wide gaps that separate the sides,'' NBA Commissioner David Stern said. ``But at least we identified the sizes of the gaps between us.''

Said Jordan: ``We have to keep plugging away at this. There has to be a feeling of compromise.''

Friday, October 28, 2011

On This Day, October 28th: NBA Lockout Day 120 & Awful Deja Vu


Don't need to say much other than this: David Stern cancelled all NBA games up to December 1st on October 28, 1998. Stern just did the exact same thing 13 years later. Back then, Michael Jordan had stepped into the ring to challenge the Commissioner. Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade have kind of gotten credit for showing some fight, but it's in no way close to what MJ was doing.

The big difference between the two periods in time is that NBAers wanted to RAISE the BRI from 57% to 63% in '98. Even back then, owners even wanted 48%. Their range now is 47%-50% while the union is resistant to fall under 52%.

NEW YORK - November has yet to arrive, but it's already history in the eyes of the NBA.

All games are canceled. That is the only sure thing today.

Negotiations plodded along Wednesday on a new working agreement between the NBA and its players,

costing the Orlando Magic the easiest month on their schedule - the first 11 games against mostly patsies.
Commissioner David Stern, who engaged in a face-to-face, heated exchange with Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, announced the cancellation of all games until Dec. 1 and an indefinite postponement of the entire season.

Although both sides admit a framework for a new agreement has been established, they continue to bicker over the real substance of the deal.

The players still want more of the burgeoning revenues - estimated at $2 billion last season - than the owners are willing to give.

The players received 57 percent of all basketball revenues in salary and benefits last season. They have asked for 63 percent. The owners gradually want to reduce it to 48 percent over the next five years.
``Right now, we're driving cars,'' said union president and New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing. ``They want us to go back to horses and buggies.''

Bargaining Wednesday took a different twist, with both sides trying to show some solidarity. After Stern talked with all the owners in the morning, he and his eight-member labor relations committee met for 90 minutes with an estimated 100 players who had gathered nearby. The session included some heated exchanges, including one involving Jordan.

Stern's group facing the players included Les Alexander (Houston Rockets), Micky Arison (Miami Heat), David Checketts (Knicks), Jerry Colangelo (Phoenix Suns), Gordon Gund (Cleveland Cavaliers), Peter Holt (San Antonio Spurs), Larry Miller (Utah Jazz), and Abe Pollin (Washington Wizards).

The only Magic player in attendance was Danny Schayes, who is on the union's negotiating team.

``You have to stand up for what is right,'' Jordan said. ``What's right is for them not to come in and lock us out and force us to accept any deal they put on the table. You have to stand up when somebody is trying to take advantage of you. That's what has happened here.''

With November gone from the schedule, each team has lost 11 to 15 games. Stern estimated that players have lost a combined $200 million in salary.

He did hint that the league will re-examine and possibly redo the entire schedule when or if the season does begin.

The NBA already had canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, which was scheduled to begin Nov. 3. In the latest round of cancellations, the Magic lost four home games, against Portland, Washington, Philadelphia and Vancouver. They also lost a game at Philadelphia. Earlier lost games were against Dallas, Miami, Detroit, Toronto (two) and Sacramento.

Season ticket holders will receive a refund for all games missed, plus 6 percent interest.

``The players don't feel any greater pressure now because games were canceled,'' said Billy Hunter, union executive director. ``I'm still convinced that ultimately, a deal will get done. They [owners) are not prepared to put a gun to their heads. NBC and TNT [which televise games) are not going to stand by and let there not be a season. Ray Charles could see that one.''

The two sides had a second negotiating session - with much smaller groups - Wednesday evening, marking the third consecutive day the two sides tried to bargain.

The deal being discussed Wednesday included a loose-fitting salary cap with a luxury tax on the higher-end salaries to discourage spiraling payrolls. The owners want to include an automatic reduction of salaries if they exceed a specified percentage of revenues.

``At this point, I don't know if we are any closer,'' Spurs center David Robinson said. ``There still are some basic differences. There are issues where we just have to draw the line.''

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On This Day, October 27th: NBA Lockout Day 119 & 'It's Not About the Money'


Probably the most overstated annoying line in sports history, 'it's not about the money.' When someone says that, we know it's mostly about the $$$. Povtak provides us with a correlation between 13 years ago and today, the two sides couldn't agree on anything. Economic or not, the union and owners just couldn't find middle ground on countless issues. The same standoffish type of negotiating is going on currently. At least both sides this summer have not been denying the fact that revenue is the massive wedge between them. Your eyes will also focus on our new least favorite word, 'progress'. Long sit-downs mean nothing if you don't compromise.

It's not for a lack of trying that the NBA still isn't close to a collective bargaining agreement.

Negotiating teams for the owners and players met again Tuesday, turning the focus to the non-economic issues, yet still they struggled to find much common ground.

``We talked about a lot of different things,'' said Jeffrey Mishkin, NBA attorney and lead negotiator for the owners on Tuesday. ``But I can't say we made a lot of progress.''

The session followed an eight-hour meeting between the two sides Monday that produced some scattered optimism but little concrete progress that could help end this four-month stalemate.

``The biggest stumbling block remains what it's always been, and that's trying to agree on an economic system that both sides regard as fair,'' Mishkin said. ``So far, we've been unable to do that.''

NBA Commissioner David Stern wasn't at Tuesday's bargaining session. He was addressing the NBA's annual Board of Governors meeting that concludes this afternoon.

Full-scale bargaining will resume today. Up to 100 players and most owners are expected to attend as talks return to the major economic issues.

``I can assure you this will be one of the more focused board meetings that we've ever had,'' said Magic President Bob Vander Weide, who was joined by owner Rich DeVos in New York.

Unless some surprising progress is made in negotiations, Stern is expected to cancel more regular-season games today, wiping out all of November and the first part of the December schedule. The league already canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.

``I think the mood is the most right that it has ever been to make a deal,'' Magic center Danny Schayes said after Tuesday's meeting. ``I'd say there's been some progress made, but it's hard to judge how much. We still have miles and miles to go.''

Among the issues discussed Tuesday for the first time were the league's drug policy, the power of the commissioner to levy heavier fines and how to deal with players who refuse to report after a trade.

Both sides have agreed to add marijuana to the list of banned substances, although the players don't want the punishment to be as stiff as it is for cocaine or heroin possession. The owners want to begin regular drug testing of veterans for the first time, although the players are against it.

The owners want to add required off-season conditioning programs to a player's contractual obligations. They also want the league to deal more harshly with players who are convicted of crimes ranging from firearms possession to alcohol-related offenses.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the union, agreed with Mishkin's opinion that little was accomplished during Tuesday's four-hour session.

``We thought maybe if we took a break from the economic issues that maybe we could make some progress,'' Hunter said. ``Maybe not. I guess Danny [Schayes) had a little different interpretation of the meeting. I expected a lot more.''

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On This Day, October 26th: NBA Lockout Day 118 & 'Progress' is a Popular Word


The owners and players have quickly coordinated yet another negotiation session on Wednesday. Clearly length means nothing based on the results (or lack there of) that have come about from the latest talks. 13 years ago, there was optimism that a deal could finally get done. This was mostly gauged on long hours spent in these meetings, and bad rumors. Sound familiar? 'Progress' is starting to become my least favorite word. Looking at the quotes, optimism was showing on some NBAPA guys. Others knew they were about to get bent over a barrel.

There was progress made during NBA labor negotiations Monday in New York. How much, though, is clearly up for debate.

On the eve of a two-day owners meeting in New York - and the looming threat of losing an entire season - the NBA and its players union met for 81/8 hours Monday, still struggling to secure a labor agreement.

``There was some progress, sure, but I'm not sure how you categorize it,'' said Magic center Danny Schayes, who is part of the union negotiating team. ``We were 1,000 miles apart. Now we're 800 miles apart.''

The two sides ended their latest negotiating session - with 20 people on the union side and 12 on the league side - at 11:30 p.m. Monday.

``There was no real progress,'' said NBA spokesperson Teri Washington.

The NBA has been paralyzed by a lockout since June 30, when the owners exercised an option to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league backed off somewhat on its demand for a hard salary cap, meaning the sides have to be closer, at least in principle, to coming to an agreement on the main economic issues.

``We need a system that eventually gets to where there's a set percentage for the players and a set percentage for the owners,'' Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik said. ``I don't think it has to be a hard cap, and in fact some of the things we're talking about now are not hard caps.''

They did agree to meet again Wednesday - with all owners present and with as many league players who want to attend. There is a good chance of a smaller, private meeting this afternoon after Commissioner David Stern meets with many of his owners.

``I don't think we've completely agreed on any issue, but at least now we're talking about the same system,'' Schayes said. ``They've come off the absolute hard-cap-or-nothing idea. And we've put certain things out there now to give them the cost certainty they want.''

At issue is how to split an estimated - but still increasing - $2 billion in annual revenue. The first two weeks of the regular season already have been cancelled. The rest of November schedule is expected to be cancelled this week when the owners adjourn unless the two sides are near an agreement.

Until Monday, the owners have been insisting upon an absolute limit on player salaries, while the players last week insisted they never would agree to a salary cap with no exceptions.

Any compromise this week likely would include a luxury tax to deter owners from signing their own free agents to overly lucrative contracts. The owners want to reduce the percentage of revenues used for player salaries.

``There's hope now,'' said Dikembe Mutombo of the Atlanta Hawks, also part of the negotiating team.
The luxury tax system being talked about would be phased in gradually, changing if certain conditions are not met by either side.

``Instead of absolute cost certainty, there would be mechanisms that give the owners a very good shot at costs within a certain range,'' Schayes said. ``So it's a good compromise in that area.''

In earlier bargaining sessions, the union proposed a 50 percent tax on the amount of any annual salary exceeding $18 million. The owners proposed a tax of anywhere from 50 to 200 percent on any free-agent contract signed under the Larry Bird exception for more than $2.6 million annually.

``The good news is at least we're talking about the same thing,'' Schayes said. ``We're not close on the specifics.''

Ankle Breaker Collections (Animated Gif)

Gary Payton head and shoulder fake crossover against Miller

Shaq vs Kobe Bryant 

Dwayne Wade head and shoulder fake

And the best of all the ankle breakers.... 
Vince Carter fake himself with his move

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NBA Lockout Day 117

April 20, 1994 marks Shaquille O'Neal's best scoring output in a Magic jersey. You may have seen me post the abbreviated clip of O'Neal's 53-point showcase at home against Minnesota, but here's the entire game film. the 53 points, at the time, were a franchise and personal record. Shaq also managed to snag 18 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. 22-of-31 shooting is absolutely ridiculous.

He sat down at the 9-MINUTE MARK of the 4th quarter and never came back. So God knows how much more he could have tortured that Wolves defense if it had been a close contest. On this night, there were no signs that Orlando would be swept out of their first postseason performance in the coming few weeks. Between Anthony Avent's blinding misses and the cheerleaders having communication issues, Chip Caray and 'Goose' Givens had an abundance of laughs. Definitely a superb night to be inside the O-Rena.

Monday, October 24, 2011

NBA Lockout Day 116

'Pistol' Pete Maravich's Vintage NBA piece. Need I say more? I'm sorry Jason Kidddampens the viewing at the beginning. He's not exactly the most exciting narrator. 

UFC 137 | Georges St-Pierre (c) vs. Carlos Condit

The UFC 137 event will be held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, so you can be sure the UFC is com Welterweight champion. In the co main event of this fight card we will finally see Nick Diaz in the UFC when he faces perhaps the toughest challenge of his career, BJ Penn. You can watch St.Pierre vs Condit online using the UFC 137 stream, and you can also watch Diaz vs Condit online along with the rest of the fights.

Catch it live here!

  • Georges St-Pierre (c) vs. Carlos Condit
    UFC Welterweight Championship
  • BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz
  • Matt Mitrione vs. Cheick Kongo
  • Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson
  • Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop
  • Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone
  • Bart Palaszewski vs. Tyson Griffin
  • Brad Tavares vs. Dustin Jacoby
  • Jeff Curran vs. Scott Jorgensen
  • Brandon Vera vs. Eliot Marshall
  • Ramsey Nijem vs. Danny Downes
  • Francis Carmont vs. Chris Camozzi

Sunday, October 23, 2011

On This Day, October 23rd: NBA Lockout Day 115 & Penny Returns to the Court


Lost amid all the Lockout panic was the fact that Penny Hardaway was coming off potential career-ending left knee surgery. In a way, Anfernee would never be the same again after that first of a career 4 knee surgeries. But the fact he'd come back and play all 50 games of the '98-'99 season is something to admire. The work stoppage truly was a hidden blessing for Orlando's All-Star guard. It all began in Houston, at that cancer charity event. Penny would post 19 points in a 170-168 'victory'. This is also where Hardaway was trying to recruit Ike Austin.

HOUSTON - A group of NBA players took a timeout from their labor problems with league owners to put on a charity basketball game Friday night at the University of Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion.

For one night everything seemed right in the world of the NBA. There was no talk of lockouts, salary caps or union decertification. It was clearly a case of the show must go on.

``This was great, I'm sure nobody expected a player turnout like this,'' Magic guard Nick Anderson said.
In this particular show the least important part of it was the score, which was 170-168 in favor of Gallery Furniture, the sponsor for the team that included Magic guards Penny Hardaway and Anderson.

Hardaway finished with 19 points, including 13 in the third quarter when he helped his team wipe out an 85-64 halftime deficit. Anderson finished with seven points, all of which came in the first half.

``It was just fun to be out there and see all of the NBA players together,'' Hardaway said. ``Even though it's just an exhibition game, it's always fun to win. That's why in the third quarter I told [San Antonio point guard) Avery Johnson, `Let's try to make a run,' because I knew that late in the game, nobody was going to be serious.''

All together 23 NBA players and two rap artists participated in the All-Star benefit game, which raised money for M.D. Anderson Cancer research.

An estimated 10,000 people paid from $40 to $50 per ticket to get into the game.

Former Houston Rockets star and current University of Houston Cougars first-year Coach Clyde ``The Glide'' Drexler served as honorary coach of the winning Gallery team. He jokingly said afterward: ``That was the hardest I've ever had to work in a basketball game in my life.''

West Side Tennis Club, which has been host of a fall NBA recreation league during the lockout, was largely responsible for making this game possible. The West squad was led by rap artist Silkk, who had 27 points. The Gallery squad also included a celebrity rap artist, Master P, who did not arrive until the third quarter, but finished with 25 points.

Former Rockets guard and one-time Magic player Kenny Smith served as the honorary coach for the West Side club, which also included Minnesota Timberwolves point Stephon Marbury, who scored 14 of his 22 points to lead the first-half charge.

Players were given appearance fees ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. But the biggest beneficiary from the night's events may not have been the area cancer research center or the players. But the fans.
From the Magic's standpoint, it was a huge benefit for them as well.

Not only did Hardaway use this as another means to sharpen his game after having endured back-to-back seasons with knee problems, he used this opportunity to recruit free-agent center Isaac Austin, who scored 17 points for the game winners.

Said Hardaway: ``I had been preaching to Ike all day, trying to get him to come to Orlando. He told me that he's coming. That would be great.''

NOTE: Amid growing concern that the season will be in jeopardy if the labor dispute runs into December, the chief negotiators for the NBA owners and the players have tentatively set meetings for this weekend in Manhattan.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update on Dwight's 'New Magic-Old Magic' Games

In case you haven't been aware, despite the unwarranted and panicky assumptions that he's supposedly already decided to bolt (calm down folks, you'll live longer), Dwight Howard has been planning a potential local exhibition game or more of current Orlando Magic players against 'old school' Magic men. How far back in the time machine will Dwight wish to venture? No idea. But we do know now, thanks to the technology of Twitter, that it will be at the UCF Arena November 11th-13th. So that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday just got more exciting and should occupy calendars. Look at Ticketmaster, and you'll see a November 11th event was cancelled at UCF. So it's a wise move to sweep in and fill that slot.

This is where diehard Orlando fans can dream of possibly seeing Greg Kite and Tree RollinsRony Seikaly can be the DJ. It would be mighty interesting if we saw the likes of Shaquille O'NealPenny HardawayDennis Scott, and Horace Grant show up. It'd be an NBA2K12-like fantasy. Keep in mind, because of the Lockout, many former players will not be extended an invite because of their current coaching or front office Association affiliations. Nick AndersonBo OutlawDarrell Armstrong,Otis SmithScott Skiles are just a few names who under the normal guidelines of this work stoppage would not be allowed to participate.

It's safe to say we may see the likes of Courtney LeeMickael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat as they all still associate themselves with our community. After that, it's pure assumption. Tracy McGradyRashard Lewis, and Grant Hill are rumored. Maybe we see a few UCF Knight basketball players as well (as long as it doesn't attract the NCAA). Either way, I'm sure Dwight and crew will put on a superb show. I would expect to see a good chunk of the '95 and '09 Finals squads getting phone calls.

On This Day, October 22nd: NBA Lockout Day 114 & Charity or Gambling?


While some players attended Las Vegas for union voting (see the article below), Magic men Penny HardawayNick Anderson, and Bo Outlaw were in Houston participating in a charity exhibition along with other very notable names. The money raised from the 14,000 fans that would be attending would be handed over to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. As usual, if the quotes weren't interesting I wouldn't be posting these old articles. It's weird to see the players divided up, even if these friendlies were for a great cause, when your union is having a crucial get-together.

LAS VEGAS - The NBA players, with a strong show of union solidarity, voted almost unanimously Thursday to allow the entire season to be canceled unless team owners stop insisting on a hard salary cap.

An estimated 240 players - including the majority of the league's stars - met to solidify their stance in the ongoing labor dispute that has paralyzed the NBA.

``I don't think [Commissioner) David Stern would be that foolish - it would be a demonstration of ineptness - but if the NBA keeps insisting on a hard cap, there might not be a season,'' said Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. ``That's what we're preparing for.''

Hunter said he expects to reopen negotiations with the league on Tuesday, coinciding with a scheduled NBA owners meeting in New York. He said he expects more than 100 players to be there as a show of support.

The NBA already has canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, meaning the players have lost 1/12 of their annual salary. Stern said he expects to announce the cancellation of another two weeks of games at the owners' meeting unless there is serious progress on a new agreement.

One of those at the meeting Thursday was Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, who remained noncommittal about returning to play this season.

``The owners are being unfair. If they can't manage their checkbook, why ask us to manage it?'' Jordan said. ``I haven't made up my mind on [this) season, but I'm here to support the young guys and the guys that came before us.

``The players deserve a fair deal. And they should wait until they get one.''

Although the meeting brought together a cross-section of superstars, mid-level players and journeymen, both young and old, they all sounded a unified theme when the meeting adjourned.

``At this point, we're being strong-armed by the owners. It's `Here's the deal, take it or leave it.' They think they can outlast us,'' veteran Michael Cage said. ``But I'm not sure they understand our resolve. We're not going to cave in. This meeting really solidified everything.''

There didn't appear to be any splintering of the union. The meeting, which lasted almost five hours, was both informational and inspiring, according to players who attended. It ended like a union rally, with a commitment to stay together.

Among those attending with Jordan were David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley and Dikembe Mutombo.

None of the five Orlando Magic players with contracts - Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson, Bo Outlaw and Johnny Taylor - was in attendance.

The players and their agents are planning to arrange a variety of exhibition games to raise funds if the lockout continues. Tonight in Houston, more than 25 players are expected to participate in an all-star charity game.

Next month, the union will begin to distribute the $25 million licensing fund that it has amassed. There are also preliminary talks of forming a loosely organized basketball league for the players.

Both Jordan and Robinson spoke to the gathering, urging unity. Both speeches were well-received, according to a variety of players.

Also speaking to the players were Donald Fehr, head of the baseball players union, and Gene Upshaw, head of the NFL players union. Upshaw urged the players to consider decertification of the union. Fehr discouraged it.

``I told them the solution was simple - decertify the union and sue the league,'' Upshaw said. ``I don't know if that's what they wanted to hear, but they listened.''

The players last week were dealt a serious blow when an arbitrator ruled that the owners did not have to pay the 226 players with guaranteed contracts during the lockout. But that didn't seem to dim anyone's resolve Thursday.

``We're not going to decertify. We're ready to make a stand. I think that's what really came out of this today,'' veteran guard Steve Kerr said. ``That's what a union has to do. I realize now that this could last awhile. That's sad, but it's something we have to do.''

The players have been locked out since July1, when the owners exercised their option to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement. At issue is how to divide the estimated $2 billion in annual revenues.

Last season, more than 57 percent went to the players in salary and benefits. The owners want that reduced, and the two sides remain far apart on the major economic issues.

``Nobody wants to miss the whole season, and I still can't foresee that happening,'' former Magic player Dennis Scott said. ``This union never has been stronger, but it's the same with the owners. You've got two very determined sides, and neither one is ready to give in.''

NBA Players as their Comic SuperHeroes

 Dwight Howard caught all the crowds attention by his Superman gimmick. Those people forgotten  it was not a DUNK!!.. its a  slam lay-up... though he still  got the trophy. Wondering if those people didn't buy his gimmick  he could have lost from that competition and that epic fail will be the most shameful Dunk in the NBA history. Anyway here are the photos from your NBA Stars- superheroes wannabe.

Flying so high for the super slam lay-up

the black Superman in NBA.... but look at his underwear? is it a thong?

Obama is the first president as so Howard is the first Black superman

ohh shit...! I won't gonna make it.. this won't be a dunk

what else I'm going to do? how about I jump high to the roof and bring down the Scoring box 

I got you all tricked !.. guess what .. I'm not the real Superman

MJ maybe has superman blood from being a super extra ordinary

here comes Shaq with the big 'S'

J.Wall always has his Superman suite with him..

The Green Goliath fella from Clippers

grwaaahhhh!!!.. get down from my back.. you all are too heavy!!!

The dynamic duo from Miami..
Robin : Hey Batman someone stole my rubber ducky?
Batman : noohh.. I don't have it here in my underwear .. I swear

Behind The Flash mask is another 'The Flash' from Miami

The Flash ... as dwyane wade

a never seen Spiderman the movie cover

see him web swinging around  in your neighborhood

both of them can stick in any wall with the similar pose

I know there's a bit weird with Spiderman dark sides

I'm the Master Jedi .. I have the Force.. but I don't have any ring

Incredible Hulk Movie could have been a Big Hit if they remade it this way

how many times I told you that I'm not Mr. Dwight Howard..
I'm Shaq.. I don't do clown performance

Stupid.. I'm not Robocop .... 

Some real Marvel Comics super heroes