Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen

Not all 50 players united in decertification effort on reported conference calls


It sounded like a cadre, right? Some sort of group of insidious All-Stars hellbent on destroying the union and sending the lockout into an eternal struggle in the courts. That was the sense gained from the reports about the 50 players who held two separate conference calls this week regarding decertification and potential antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. It made it seem like all 50 were ready to go and just itching to take the legs out from Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher.

But not so fast. From the Boston Globe:

As rumors of a NBA player mutiny surfaced this week because of two conference calls that discussed decertification of the union, Celtics guard Ray Allen downplayed the calls to the Globe, calling decertification simply an “option.”

Allen said Friday night that teammate Paul Pierce organized the call of dozens of players to discuss the possibility of breaking up the union if a deal is not reached in coming weeks. According to Allen, there were two conference calls, one last week and the other Thursday. Allen said he was not on the second conference call.There has been speculation that the conference calls were a clear sign that many players are dissatisfied with the players’ union, including executive director Billy Hunter. Allen said that was not the case.

“I don’t know what kind of feedback or backlash came from it but I didn’t think there was a need for anybody to panic whatsoever,” he said. “Either on our side as a players’ union or as owners. I thought the call was strictly to explore options. It was never call to organize union business. It was purely educational from a player perspective.”

via Celtics Allen downplays decertification talks -Celtics blog – Boston Globe basketball news.

Additionally, Howard Beck of the New York Times, one of the reporters to originally break the report on the conference calls tweeted Friday night:

Players who participated in the conference calls had wide range of opinions/interest. Not unified in threat to dissolve union.Fri Nov 04 21:10:51 via web

So even among the 50 players on the calls, there wasn’t a consensus towards decertification. Factoring how many votes the players would need to approve an involuntary decertification following a 30 percent petition for a vote, this certainly cools the talks of such a drastic move.

Which is good, because decertification and subsequent antitrust suits are the fastest way to lose not just one season, but potentially two. In all honesty, the threat of decertification carries more power than the actual act, and it’s like bringing a grenade to a knife fight. It damages both sides equally. Right now it doesn’t look like the players have their fingers on the pin. We’ll see how this weekend’s talks go to figure out if it stays in the grenade.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.