Sports

Mavericks, Heat Wary Of Labor Strife Ahead

Billy Hunter, President of the NBA Players Association and NBA commissioner David Stern. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Billy Hunter, President of the NBA Players Association and NBA commissioner David Stern. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — Reaching the NBA finals typically means a shorter offseason for the teams involved. This year, the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks realize they might be looking at a lengthy layoff because labor strife looms.

The collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, and while the league and players are trying to reach a new deal, they remain far apart on major financial issues, raising the possibility of a work stoppage.

“Until something is done, nothing is done,” Heat player representative James Jones said Monday on the eve of the finals. “We’re looking at a scenario where we’re riding a high of excitement and the game is thriving, to coming back to reality and understanding we’re in a labor battle where there may not be games and players may be locked out.”

In an attempt to block a potential lockout, the players’ association filed an unfair labor charge against the league last week with the National Labor Relations Board.

“From what I hear and read and see, we’re going to get locked out,” Mavericks co-player rep Brian Cardinal said. “But hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

Thanks largely to interest in the Heat, the league has seen a big increase in TV ratings during this year’s playoffs. Any work stoppage would come with the sport’s popularity at a peak.

“Not thinking about that now,” the Heat’s Dwyane Wade said. “When it’s time to think about it, we will. Obviously, it’s something that we’ve known is a possibility for a while. All of us have done our jobs and if there is, we’ll be prepared for it.

“But at this point, the game is at its highest. The game is doing great. We’ve been part of the most-watched games in NBA history. NBA basketball is as (good) as it’s been in a long time.”