NBA players:

PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) — On the day NBA training camps were supposed to open, dozens of players around the country took their case to the public Tuesday with a simple message: We are not to blame.
“We’re here to show the public that we, as players, want to play,” union president Patrick Ewing said. “We just want everybody to know that the players want the season start on time.”
Ewing spoke in a parking lot outside the New York Knicks’ practice facility — which was indeed locked — as part of a media blitz that was unprecedented for a union that historically has been considered disorganized and weak.
In all, players appeared at 14 training camp sites and NBA arenas in an attempt to influence public opinion over a labor battle that has grown increasingly acrimonious since the lockout began July 1 when the collective bargaining agreement expired.
Talks are scheduled to resume Thursday, and an agreement must be reached in a few days to prevent the cancellation of regular-season games for the first time in league history. The NBA already has canceled the entire exhibition season.
“In the past, we had a lot of players ready to give in,” Timberwolves player rep Sam Mitchell said in Minneapolis. “But the thing I keep hearing at the meetings I go to, guys keep saying they’re tired of being pushed and pushed into a corner. We’re getting tired of thinking that we’re the bad guys, that we’re greedy.
“We’ve got enough guys in the union that are willing to bend and make concessions. Both parties should be willing to cut a fair deal,” Mitchell said.
But such a dramatic turn seems highly unlikely with the sides far apart on the main economic issues. In a league with almost $2 billion in annual revenues, the owners want to install a “hard” salary cap system with an absolute limit on how much money is paid to players.
The players, meanwhile, want to keep as much of the old system intact as possible, including the so-called “Larry Bird exception” that allows teams to exceed the salary cap to retain their own free agents. Such a rule allowed Michael Jordan to make $33 million last season when the cap was $26.9 million.