MIAMI – LeBron James will spend part of his All-Star weekend playing, some of it listening — and if the mood strikes, he might do some talking about the NBA's financial future as well.
The Miami Heat forward and two-time reigning NBA MVP reiterated Tuesday that he'll be part of the discussions in Los Angeles later this month about the league's future. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on June 30, and there's widespread concern around the league about a lockout and possibly a disrupted 2011-12 season.
"I'm not just going out there for the game," James said. "I'm definitely going out there for business. I will be a part of the labor talks. Even though it's a huge game going on Sunday, there's a lot of business that needs to be taken care of, too."
Given how far apart the sides are, it's doubtful that any major progress could be made from the talks in Los Angeles.
The NBA has said it expects a loss of about $350 million this season, and Commissioner David Stern said in October that owners want to reduce player salary costs by about $750 to $800 million annually. James is one of the league's highest-paid players, signing a deal with Miami last summer worth roughly $110 million over six years.
He's not the Heat player rep — that role is handled by James Jones — but James said he will not think twice about speaking up if needed.
"I'm going to listen a lot, because it's not like I'm there on every conversation or every phone call that they have," James said. "I don't know all, but as a player, as a person of this league, I know a lot about this league. If I feel like a comment needs to be said from me, I've never been one to hold my tongue. So I'll definitely voice my opinion."
Little progress has been made toward a new deal in the past year. James has attended meetings in the past, and says he stays as current as he can on the behind-the-scenes goings-on toward a new contract.
"Just being involved in it is a privilege for me," said Jones, who'll join James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as Heat All-Star representatives; Jones will be part of the 3-point contest on All-Star Saturday. "I've always taken this opportunity to try to learn a little bit more about the business and also do whatever I can to help grow the business."