The head of the National Basketball Players Association began his testimony in the arbitration case that will determine if NBA players with guaranteed contracts should be paid during the lockout.
Billy Hunter, executive director of the players association, and union lawyer Ron Klempner were the only witnesses to testify before arbitrator John Feerick during Thursday's 12-hour session.After Hunter was questioned by union lawyers, the league's attorneys began their cross examination. His testimony was to resume Friday.
Because of the Labor Day holiday, Friday's session will end in the early afternoon, the league and union said. The proceedings will continue on Tuesday.
The union says that owners should be forced to pay about 220 players with guaranteed contracts because the agreements didn't include specific language on whether players would be paid during a lockout. Guaranteed contracts for the 1998-99 season total about $800 million.
Neither the league nor union expects to negotiate until Feerick rules on this case, which began last week. If the Fordham University law school dean sides with the players association, it could bring about a speedy resolution to the lockout, which began July 1, because owners would have little financial incentive to cancel regular-season games.
Feerick has 30 days to rule after he gets any post-hearing briefs from either the league or players association.
The NBA and union last met on Aug. 6, although the bargaining session ended after owners and league officials walked out after seeing the players' latest proposal.
The lockout centers on owners' desire to curb skyrocketing salaries by amending the Larry Bird exception and establishing a hard salary cap. The Bird rule allows teams to re-sign free agents without regard to the salary cap.