The NBA players have chosen their path. It’s a hard path they see as being based on their principles, it’s about fairness and the future
But they are not the first to walk this path — the NHL did it before. The league lost a full season. And now a second NHL players has come out and warned NBA players it’s not worth it.
Long-time NHL veteran Dave Andreychuk spoke to the Orlando Sentinel about it (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
“If players think it’s better to sit out the season, let me tell (you), it’s not. It’s just not,” Andreychuk says. “In the end, it will be worse….
“The deal got worse by us sitting out,” Andreychuk admits. “At the end, we were so willing to sign, we had to agree to what the owners wanted. We gave back a tremendous amount just to get a deal done so we could go back to work….
“All of the momentum and excitement surrounding the franchise after we won the Stanley Cup was lost,” Andreychuk says (he was captain of the Lightning team that won right before lockout). “Fans who bought tickets and jumped on the bandwagon during the playoffs never came back because the next season was cancelled.”
Bill Guerin, as hardline an NHL union guy as there was during the lockout, also has warned NBA players not to lose a season. You can say that former pro athletes should support the current generation, but these guys are speaking from the heart about how it went for them.
Yes, the NBA lockout is different in a lot of ways. It’s also the same in a lot of ways. You don’t have to heed what NHL guys tell you, but you should listen.
In the meeting Monday when the players voted to dissolve the union, Kobe Bryant reportedly told the team reps that if they went this path it couldn’t be halfway. All in, long haul. Because if the players cave now — like a lot of owners think they will — the price they pay will be very severe. Just ask the NHL guys.
After more than two years of negotiating against the NBA players’ union, the owners will get together on a conference call Thursday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, and map out a strategy now that the union has dissolved.
Wojnarowski also explains the union’s new position.
Antitrust attorney David Boies, who is leading the players’ suit, wants the owners to negotiate a new labor deal through him.
We are here because the owners got the players to agree to a 12 percent salary rollback — enough money to cover the owners’ stated losses — plus some system concessions, but that was not enough. Rather than offering the players an olive branch and a way to save face so we could have basketball, the owners went for the jugular. There was no give, no way out for the players to claim even a partial win at the end.
So instead the players reached for the biggest club they could find and blew up the negotiations. The players pushed the button, but the owners are far from blameless (really, they are more so).
Thing is, the players’ new strategy is not going to work short term. There is no way the owners will be more likely to give in now. The players have challenged them to a legal battle and the owners do not want to look like that strategy worked and it scared them back into negotiations. The owners are going to stay strong for a while.
Eventually there will be negotiations. Whether those talks happen fast enough to save the season — or even who is in the room — is impossible to say, but there will be negotiations. I hope the owners talk about that, too. They need to talk about how to save the season, not just how to win.
The court date has been set in California (Oakland, to be exact) for the players lawsuit against the owners — Feb. 29. By then, if no deal is reached, the entire season will be lost. Of course, anyone who has ever followed any kind of legal proceeding knows that the first court date set is meaningless. Everything gets moved around. And the players want it to move more quickly, anyway.
But even before a group of players sued the NBA and owners on antitrust grounds Tuesday, there was already a legal battle going on between the two sides. Remember that the league filed a preemptive lawsuit against the (then) union trying to take the teeth out of any union decertification efforts. The union filed to have that lawsuit dismissed.
Now with the legal battle opening up on new fronts, the attorneys for the players and league tried to reinforce their case original case. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe had asked for more information from both sides and he got it on Tuesday, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
Unsurprisingly, the league argued that the NBPA’s decision to disclaim and take up its case with the NBA in federal court under antitrust law further supported the NBA’s contention when it filed the lawsuit Aug. 2 that the players were going to do that all along. …
League attorneys sought declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that the lockout could not be challenged under antitrust law, asserting that the NBPA’s harboring of that threat was hindering negotiations and that a new CBA would be more easily reached if the court pre-emptively removed the threat. In a motion to dismiss, attorneys for the NBPA argued that the court lacked jurisdiction because there was no “ripe controversy” — since at the time the NBA sued, the union had yet to decertify or seriously consider it. Kessler reiterated those arguments Tuesday.
Gardephe’s eventual ruling could impact the lawsuits filed in California and Minnesota — the league wants him to rule the lockout cannot be challenged. He’s not likely to do that, yet anyway. Basically, expect this to just keep grinding on in the courts for a while, while no basketball is played but attorneys make outrageous fees.