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National briefs: Today’s talks ‘huge’ for NBA’s future

October 4, 2011

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After a lockout that has lasted more than three months, whether the NBA season starts on time could come down to one “very huge day” in labor talks.

Owners and players will be back today for a full bargaining session, knowing if they fail to produce results, there may not be enough time left to avoid canceling regular-season games.

“A lot of signs point to tomorrow being a very huge day,” players’ association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said. “There will be a lot of pressure on all of us in the room, and we’ll accept that responsibility and go in and see what we can get worked out.”

The sides met in small groups Monday for about five hours, a session that Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said was mainly about “setting the table” for today. While careful not to put too much pressure on Tuesday’s talks, he and Commissioner David Stern made clear there had to be signs of compromise.

“Each side understands exactly what’s at stake and where potentially there is movement in order to try to get a deal done,” Silver said. “I mean, we can only say we’re running out of time so many times.

“We both understand that if we don’t make our best offers in the next few days, we’re going to be at the point where we’re going to be causing damage to the game, to ourselves, and they’re going to be out paychecks,” he added.

The regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1. Players would have reported to training camps Monday, but those were postponed and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled last month.

“We still are in the same position that we all wish we were starting training camp today and we know a lot of our fans in respective markets feel the same way,” Fisher said. “So we’re going to continue to work at this until we can either figure it out in a way that will spare us all a lot of collateral damage and games missed, or not, but we’re going to put the effort and the time in as we have been doing and see if we can come to a resolution.”

NFL

Hitler dig gets Hank yanked

Bristol, Conn. — ESPN pulled Hank Williams Jr.’s classic intro song from its broadcast of Monday night’s NFL game after the country singer famous for the line “Are you ready for some football?” used an analogy to Adolf Hitler in discussing President Barack Obama.

In an interview Monday morning on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Williams, unprompted, said of Obama’s outing on the links with House Speaker John Boehner: “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”

Asked to clarify, Williams said, “They’re the enemy,” adding that by “they” he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Anchor Gretchen Carlson later said to him, “You used the name of one of the most hated people in all of the world to describe, I think, the president.” Williams replied, “Well, that is true. But I’m telling you like it is.”

“While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to ‘Monday Night Football,’” the network said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”

College football

Three Buckeyes suspended

Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State is in trouble with the NCAA again, this time because three Buckeyes players — including two who have already been sitting out for taking cash and free tattoos — accepted too much money for too little work in their summer jobs.

Last year’s leading rusher, Daniel Herron, and the top returning receiver, DeVier Posey, along with offensive lineman Marcus Hall will not be permitted to play when the Buckeyes play at No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday.

Athletic Director Gene Smith insisted at a Monday afternoon news conference that there was no “systemic” problem at Ohio State, which has admitted to having several players involved in different NCAA violations over the past 10 months.

He blamed it all on the athletes, former coach Jim Tressel and a booster who Monday was banned from further contact with the Buckeyes.

OU WR Franks reinstated

Norman, Okla. — Receiver Trey Franks has been reinstated after serving a two-game suspension for No. 3 Oklahoma, allowing him to return in time for the Red River Rivalry game against No. 11 Texas on Saturday.

Coach Bob Stoops announced Monday that he was bringing back Franks, whom he suspended indefinitely two weeks ago for an unspecified violation of team rules.

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