By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - LeBron James expects to be heavily involved in the next labor negotiations with NBA owners after his election as vice president of the Players Association.
"It's going to be a very important negotiation and process and I think I'm a big part of the process," James said after the Cleveland Cavaliers star practiced with his East team mates for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
James was unanimously elected first vice president at a meeting of the union on Friday night despite not attending due to a sponsors' commitment.
“LeBron has been a force to be reckoned with among our players since the man hit the court," said National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts.
"We have always wanted to have players of influence be included on our executive committee. It gets your attention."
Another contentious negotiation could be in the offing in 2017, when the union is expected to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement following a new $24 billion television deal that could impact player salaries.
Other issues include installation of human growth hormone testing and a revisiting of the one-and-done rule for college players, who now may enter the NBA one season following their high school graduating class.
James would not be drawn into the specific issues.
"We'll have a game plan. Today is not the time or place to discuss what we need to do as a union. We will get to those matters when it's time."
James joins a leadership team that includes union president and good friend Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.
"If you want to learn about the league and understand what it's all about, then it should be important to you," James said.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)