NBA owners and locked-out players met with a federal mediator for more than 15 hours as new contract negotiations stretched into Wednesday morning and their bitter money dispute reached its 111th day.
The marathon session was the longest since the lockout began on July 1 and the first to feature US mediator George Cohen, who entered a similar collective bargaining dispute earlier this year with American football owners and players.
The first two weeks of the 2011-2012 NBA season have already been wiped out and NBA commissioner David Stern said that more games could be lost if the two sides, widely split on how to divide revenues, could not reach a deal quickly.
As talks began Tuesday morning, players had dismissed comments by Stern that hinted games as far off as Christmas might be at risk if there was no progress toward a new deal in the session.
NBA owners will meet later Wednesday and Thursday to discuss their next moves in the stalemate, the first shutdown of the league since the 1998-99 season was reduced from 82 to 50 games per club over similar issues.
Billionaire club owners and multi-millionaire NBA players each want about 53 percent of revenues, a four-percent cut in what players enjoyed from the prior contract that expired July 1.
Owners want to exclude more income from the revenues that must be shared with players and they want a larger chunk of the shared money as well, plus a salary cap without the numerous exceptions that were in the prior contract.
Players have already agreed to cuts they say would provide the league $1.3 billion over six years and do not want a salary cap.
Some players have signed with overseas clubs to be certain of not losing a full year of their careers to the lockout.
Cohen’s background also includes serving as a lawyer for Major League Baseball’s players union in 1995 when a court injunction against club owners in 1995 ended a 7 1/2-month dispute, one that wiped out the 1994 World Series.