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The NBA and the players need someone to break the ice, someone who can speak plainly and calmly to both sides and move them out of the bunkers they've built and toward a possible deal.
Thankfully for those who want a basketball season, the ideally qualified person with the right relationships and experience and an impeccable reputation as a deal-maker has come forward to solve that problem.
That person is Jim Quinn, who for nearly 20 years served as lead outside counsel for the National Basketball Players Association and who helped broker the deal that ended the 1998-99 lockout. Quinn's unique perspective as a longtime, formidable and respected adversary of commissioner David Stern covers multiple collective bargaining agreements as well as the landmark antitrust lawsuit spearheaded by Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson in 1976.
Reached by CBSSports.com Tuesday at the offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he is a partner and chairman of the global litigation team, Quinn confirmed he has spoken with both Stern and NBPA director Billy Hunter since the collective bargaining process broke down and the union disclaimed — leading to multiple antitrust lawsuits.
Quinn characterized the conversations as "touchy-feely" and "off-the-record," and said they have occurred "in the past number of days."
"The reality is," he said, "sometimes off-the-record conversations can be useful."
The NBA season hinges on the negotiating power of super-lawyer Jim Quinn. We can only hope he possess the calm, rational, logical, problem-solving ability of Winston Wolf.
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