Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Christmas Miracle: How Mediation's Confidentiality Can Save Christmas Day Basketball

Sick of hearing about the NBA lockout? Well, you likely will not hear much more from both sides as the NBPA and Owners have moved their tense and acrimonious labor negotiations to mediation, where they hope common ground can be found under the guidance of a third party neutral in confidential negotiation sessions.  During this critical time, the owners and NBPA have turned to the Federal Mediation as a way to rebuild trust and thrust the negotiation's momentum forward.

It seems like the Mediation is off to a good start. Yesterday,  both sides met individually with Federal Mediation and Conciliation Director, George Cohen, and then today they joined together for a marathon ten hour negotiation session. If Cohen's name sounds familiar, it is because he was the man who oversaw the NFL Mediation sessions.

The two sides have not talked since players walked out of a bargaining session a week ago that led to Commissioner Stern's cancelling of the first two weeks of the season.  The players and owners (except for Mark Cuban ) took to the media to negotiate in the public theater, which led to David Stern's threat that the Christmas game would be cancelled and we would not be able to watch the Dallas Mavericks take on the Lakers, which I assume would be the NBA's prime time Feliz Navidad match up and necessitate this Jew to see two movies instead of allowing me to get my NBA Christmas  Day fix, and disappointment, as the Lakers never play well on Jesus' birthday.

Mediation seems like the perfect process to avert this technical foul as part of a mediator's skills is to rebuild trust and a problem solving relationship. Mediation is also a confidential process.  Anything that is said during mediation cannot be revealed outside of the sessions.  Because agreeing to the confidential nature of mediation is a fundamental foundation of the process, I am sure that will cause most players and owner negotiators to respond with "no comment", much to the chagrin of any NBA reporter.  Not even Steven Colbert's Super PAC will be able to infiltrate the sacred confidentiality that these talks will be structured around.         

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However, in auspice of this confidential and trust building process, a deal can materialize quickly and deflate the Commissioner Stern's Grinch like threat of a Christmas without the NBA.  And with that, I am hopeful that Mediator George Cohen, a Jew, will bring us a Christmas Miracle.

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