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NBA players and owners fight to preserve season and themselves

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 10/21/2011, 11:03 a.m.

Federal mediator George Cohen brought together NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBA owners and the players association for 16 hours starting Tuesday afternoon and going into early Wednesday morning. While both sides chose not to comment on the situation as they exited thew meetings, they did plan on coming back to the table late Wednesday morning.

As of press time, there were no actual reports of any real progress.

Wednesday marked the 111th day of the lockout-the second longest lockout in the league's history. The first two weeks of the season have already been cancelled by Stern, and if no deal is reached by the end of this week, he's threatening to cancel games all the way through Christmas Day and possibly the rest of the calendar year.

"If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut-this is not in my official capacity of canceling games-but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day," said Stern during an interview with New York sports talk radio station WFAN last week.

However, some in the media have grown tired of Stern's rhetoric and threats. On last night's episode of HBO's "Real Sports," Bryant Gumbel saved his end-of-show commentary for the commissioner.

Gumbel said that the agreement between players and owners "seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of it." Gumbel labeled Stern "infamously egocentric" and said that he "seems more hell-bent on demeaning the players than resolving his game's labor impasse." And in one line that's certain to draw attention, Gumbel stated that Stern "always seemed eager to be seen as a modern plantation overseer. Treating NBA men as if they were his boys...His moves are intended to do little more than show that he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place."

While Stern has also said that the entire season may be at risk, NBA Players Association President Derek Fisher said, "My gut tells me that there's no way Commissioner Stern and the NBA would damage their business by making us miss a whole season."

Basketball fans all over the world should know the truth by the end of the week.