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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NBA Deal Awaits Players' Vote

LOS ANGELES -- The National Basketball Association and its Players Association announced agreement on a labor deal and have embarked upon the next step -- selling it to the union membership.


The player representatives are scheduled to meet in Chicago to vote Friday, with 21 votes needed to ratify Wednesday's deal.


The union is under an 11th-hour siege by an opposition group of players and agents, spearheaded by David Falk, the representative for Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning.


Jordan, Ewing and 15 other players filed papers with the National Labor Relations Board to block the agreement by decertifying the union. If 98 more players -- representing 30 percent of the membership -- back the move by Friday, the NLRB could order a vote by the membership.


However, in conference calls among 20 of the 27 player representatives Wednesday, sentiment reportedly was running in favor of ratification.


The league's owners will meet the same day in New York, needing only a majority.


The deal would raise the salary cap from the present $16 million to almost $24 million but imposes a luxury tax (potentially growing to 100 percent) for raises above 10 percent and closes the other loopholes in the current cap.


"I have been told that much of the strategy of the NBA is to prevent someone like Shaquille from maximizing his market potential,'' said Leonard Armato, the agent for Shaquille O'Neal.


Less controversially, the sides agreed on a "rookie cap.'' Rookies will be limited to three-year contracts and can then become unrestricted free agents. Their salaries would be decided by the salary of the players drafted in that slot for the previous seven years, plus 20 percent.


Neither the union members nor the agents have opposed this.


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In Athens, former world champion Yugoslavia recovered from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat host Greece 84-80 in overtime in their opening match in the European basketball championship.


Russia kicked off with a 126-74 win over Finland on Wednesday and an 85-65 win over France on Thursday.


The Yugoslavs, world champions in 1990 but banished from international play for three years, relied on the talent and strength of Los Angeles Lakers power forward Vlade Divac on Wednesday as they hit back to square the match 72-72 in regular time.


Backed by 10,000 fans, the Greeks had a flying start and led 11-0 in the first five minutes. They were ahead 43-34 at halftime and held their lead until three minutes from time when the Yugoslavs went ahead for the first time 70-69.


Greek coach Makis Dendrinos said: "We are very disappointed because we deserved to win. I believe the referees respected more the mighty Yugoslavia."


Defending champion Germany went down 68-67 to Italy on Thursday after falling 96-82 to the impressive Lithuanians, back in European competition after 56 years on Wednesday. In other Thursday action, it was Croatia 91-83 over newcomer Slovenia.


In Wednesday's other games, France beat Slovenia 89-68, while Italy beat Israel 73-71 and Spain scored a comfortable 85-70 victory over Turkey.


(LAT, Reuters)