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Michael Curry Interview




/ Jan. 9, 2005

Michael CurryIndiana Pacers forward Michael Curry is president of the NBA players association. editor Jeff Lenchiner met with Curry for an exclusive interview about league and player negotiations, and avoiding a potential NBA lockout next season. Talk about your role as union president, and the main things you focus on.

Michael Curry: As President, I'm the head of the Union, along with the Executive Director Billy Hunter, and the executive board - and we have a very good executive board - and what we do is run the union. We manage day-to-day operations, along with our staff, and we address all issues concerning the players, both on and off the court. And we just try to make sure that guys, during their playing careers, can maximize their earnings and also make sure that we're, along with the league, putting a good product out on the court. In that board circle comes a lot of different things. With a wide paint-stroke, that's what we do. With renegotiations ongoing, and a lockout possible after this season, what are the key issues right now that separate the players union from the NBA?

Michael Curry: A lot of times, people say, when it comes to collective bargaining, it's a key issue, for instance, if it's a hard cap, or if it's something major like that. But we've given a lot of great things. We've given high-end limits. We've given escrow and the tax system. So, we've given a lot of things that other pro sports haven't given. The reality is, the NBA controls if they lock us out or not. We're ready to sit down and go over things. We've been preparing over the last six years, to see what things we like in the deal and some things we might not like as much, and what we might be looking for in the future, but what we've come to understand is that what we want for our players is flexibility. That the system has flexibility. What specific types of flexibility?

Michael Curry: Just flexibility in the system. Flexibility to earn salaries, flexibility to move from team to team. Flexibility enables players to move, and it enables teams to make movement, and a team doesn't have to be bad. If they make some bad choices, they don't have to be bad for three, four, five years. So that's what we're interested in. We're interested in every team going into the summer saying, hey, if I make a couple of moves, I have a chance to being a good team the next year. That's understandable, because quite often, when a team screws up, or, to put it a different way, makes roster moves that for whatever reason don't work, it often takes way too long for them to rebuild and make things right.

Michael Curry: That's what we're interested in. So, you can't put a deal, bits and pieces; we've found over the years that everything is connected, as far as a deal is concerned. We just have to sit down at the table and when they're ready to negotiate, let's try to get a deal that's good for both the players and the NBA. How about the rookie contracts? Do you want to change anything about them?

Michael Curry: I don't see anything wrong with what's going on. But like I said, we'll sit down and see where we're at on different issues, and we'll go from there. How about a minimum age for NBA players? What do you feel about an age limit - say, 20, as has been mentioned?

Michael Curry: Well, you say 20 minimum, and the MVP of the league right now, probably, just turned 20. So, maybe it's not just a number, moreso than it is that so many kids trying to come out are kids that are not ready when they come into the league, So maybe its other things we can do to address those issues, other than just putting a number out there. So that's what we look to do. Maybe it's a better minor league system that guys can go to. Maybe it's a continuing education, for the guys that come out, or don't go to college. All those issues are things that we can do to answer the questions that might be presented. So, we're prepared. We've been preparing for years now. And whatever issues come up, we feel we have some options that we could go to that could benefit both the players and the NBA. If you had to name a percentage, how likely a lockout is, if you had to guess...

Michael Curry: Couldn't. Couldn't give a percentage, because it's strictly on Commissioner Stern and the owners. Not on you guys.

Michael Curry: Not on us.

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