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Berger: Union Attorney Says Negotiations Were Hijacked

On Thursday, we posted video of NBPA executive director Billy Hunter pointing the finger at Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen for delivering a message that he felt ultimately led to the breakdown of NBA labor talks. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that head union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler also singled out Allen's role in the negotiations. ------------------------------- Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler speculated that owners in the Board of Governors meetings Wednesday night and earlier Thursday had forced this take-it-or-leave it negotiating strategy on Silver, Holt and the rest of the labor relations committee. I don't have time for conspiracy theories at a time like this, although Kessler made a compelling -- if incendiary -- case, even implying that the strategy was somehow related to Stern's absence. "This meeting was hijacked," Kessler said. "Something happened in that Board of Governors meeting. We were making progress. They came back, they came without the commissioner. They came with Paul Allen. We were told Paul Allen was here to express the views of the other members of the Board of Governors. And that view was, 'Our way or the highway.' That's what we were told. We were shocked. We went in there trying to negotiate, and they came in and they said, 'You either accept 50-50, or we're done, and we won't discuss anything else.' " ------------------------------- NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said commissioner David Stern did not attend meetings on Thursday because he had the flu. Dave offered his take on Allen's role in all of this. -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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