Tag: NBA lockout

Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter

The real problem on the players’ side in this fight


OK, the headline’s a bit misleading. The owners are the real problem for the players in this fight. Not that they want something the players don’t, but that they want everything. I made the comparison earlier this week on Memphis radio that this is the equivalent of the geek throwing the jock up against the locker and shaking him down for his lunch money. That’s pretty accurate. There’s no “bargaining” going on here, just extortion. You may think the owners have every right to do this to their employees, and that’s fine. We can have that argument later.

But beyond the owners’ Biff-ness is a secondary problem which has been apparent since the beginning and which Sam Amick of SI.com touched on Friday night.

The inefficiency in communication and organization from the players at such a dire time is astounding to me.Fri Nov 11 23:12:53 via TweetDeck


I’m consistently hearing about player reps who don’t contact/inform teammates, agents are scrambling for info on where things stand. Unreal.Fri Nov 11 23:13:48 via TweetDeck


There has to be a better way to bridge the gap between experts in the union & the ones they represent.Fri Nov 11 23:20:30 via TweetDeck

This has been an ongoing theme throughout this process. Decertification  is a legal tactic any which way you slice it, but the origins of it within the context of this labor dispute aren’t just about putting pressure on the players with lawsuits (which will not, let’s be clear, in any way shape or form, actually ever work out to favor the players, the threat is all that matters). The origin is with players unrest. And it’s not just from those who hate the NBA’s tactics and want to blow them out of the sky. Players have expressed displeasure with the fact that there hasn’t been enough caucusing of the membership. You want to know the real reason there’s not going to be a vote on Monday of all membership? Because no one’s asking to have one.

Who’s fault is that?

Everyone’s. Not just Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, and not just the hardliners like Paul Pierce. Everyone. No one is taking responsbiliy for the union to be on the same page.

The league’s a lot different. Each team has a leader, and the league has two. You have 32 people who need to be on the same page. Even the owners who aren’t involved in this know their interests are represented by someone else. But the players have 450 members, plus Hunter. Plus the agents, no matter how messed up this may be, need a seat at the table. They have too much invested, and the players in them. But no one has gotten out in front and said “We need to communicate better with the players about what’s actually going on.”

There are going to be allegations that the reason union leadership doesn’t want the players educated is because they might realize how badly the union’s been hammered in talks. You can actually understand it from the Exec Committee’s standpoint. You never had leverage and are expected to beat back the Kraken that’s tearing down your house, armed with nothing and yet also expected to calmly soothe it back into the ocean so you don’t lose a season. There’s no way to convince the players you’re doing well if you’re losing at every turn. It’s hard to explain to anyone that they have no leverage and that this is really all about determining how much they will lose.

But still there hasn’t been enough. And it should have been both ways. “Yes, we’re giving up the money. But we’re not losing guaranteed contracts. We’re not getting a hard cap. We’ve saved these elements, but we’re losing these. You have to decide what is most important to you.”

But it’s not all on them. Because the players don’t want to try and understand these concepts, not enough of them. Get into a conversation on Twitter with a player and you’re going to hear the same talking points over and over again. “We’ve given up $3 billion over ten years!” and “We’ve made concession after concession!” The same things. But you wonder how much they know about the details. About what they mean and what the alternatives are. The players should be beating down Derek Fisher’s phone, should be in New York in meetings while the meetings are going on. If this fight is important enough for them to lose the entire season over, they should be getting minute-by-minute updates. In this day and age of technology, there’s no excuse.

There’s been talk that the players aren’t smart enough to understand this stuff. I think that’s ridiculous. You don’t need a graduate degree in economics to understand how the MLE works, how player movement works, what Bird rights are. You just have to have it explained to you the right way. This means everything to them, it’s their livelihood, the game they’ve dedicated thousands of hours of their life to.

And now they’re on a cliff that ends with everyone involved from owners to agents to players to teams to fans being damaged. The league put them on that cliff, but the NBPA failed to build themselves a ladder off it.

Monday’s probably it for the 2011-2012 NBA season


This isn’t scare-journalism. I’m not being sensationalist, over-dramatic, or jumping to conclusions. I have ducked and dodged this scenario for as long as possible, believing there was always another chance, always another bargaining session, always another scenario that could happen to avoid it. But I can’t get around it any longer. They’ve broken me, and I’ve come to the conclusion based on everything in the past two days that it is inescapable.

The 2011-2012 NBA season is really, actually going to be cancelled. You may be saying “I knew this for months!” or something similarly cynical, but no one knew. They were talking. Not as early as they should have, but they were talking. No one knew how it would end. But here we are. We’re not going to have a season.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute, for all of us, before I continue.

The players’ union is set to pursue decertification after rejecting the league’s latest offer. I’m not going to rehash the issues or break down the MLE. I’m not going to point out how the players are just seeing what’s directly in front of them instead of the whole board and how, regardless of their consideration of threat, the offer must get worse from here on out to recoup the owners’ losses. I’m not going to rail on the owners for their continued program of bullying, intransigence, obtuseness and outright disdain for the lives, jobs, and joy of millions of people.

Let’s instead start here:

What I know for sure: David Stern didnt arbitrarily arrive at 72-game offer. To have a season, Im told, Stern insists on at least 70 games. League VERY unhappy w/50-game sked in ’99. Sources say Stern has conveyed to union deal must come soon so 2011-12 game count can start w/a 70-game season.

via Twitter / @ESPNSteinLine: What I know for sure: Davi ….

You may be one that responds with “Of course the league is leaking such thing to the media! He wants to put pressure on them to take the deal!” And that’s fine. That’s what this has come to. It’s down to whether you believe the league is bluffing or not. The players either think Stern’s bluffing, or don’t care. But to step back and look at it, it’s hard to believe the league has come this far down the path of playing “chicken” with any intention of swerving. This whole thing has been lead by forces which are irrational. They’re squabbling over a sign-and-trade for tax teams which has been used three times in ten years, for crying out loud. They’re arguing over table scraps, after they’ve taken half of the players’ food to begin with.

And for the players, there’s no one to say “step back and see the whole board.” The union’s entire plan has been predicated on living day-to-day, moment-to-moment, game-to-game. They’re taking it one game at a time, and it’s killing them.

“How about this deal?”

“No, we don’t like that. Rejected.”

“How about his deal?”

“No, we don’t like that. Rejected.”

“OK, this is our last offer before things get monumentally worse for everyone because we can’t control the forces on our side.”

“No, we don’t like that. Rejected.”

There’s no sense of what comes after they reject this, because the players are reacting emotionally to what’s right in front of their faces. The people who usually are looking out for them long-term? Those are the agents, who are looking at this long term, they’re just looking at it long-term for all players and all agents, ever, not for this group. Based on an infinite time-table, nuking the entire thing and risking everything on a decertification and lawsuit ploy that according to experts has a snowball’s chance in hell of working, and even less of a chance of being sustainable through the appeals process for the players who won’t have the funds to fight this thing to the need, that ploy is still preferable to the agents that swallowing this deal. Fighting is better than not-fighting and coming back in seven years. For the players, they don’t see that. They just see a group of owners who don’t care about their injuries, their wives and kids, their livelihoods, their game, and have bullied, pushed, prodded, and insulted them for two years. They’re reacting emotionally.

“You want a fight? Fine. Let’s fight.”

No one’s thinking rationally, no one’s thinking clear-headed, no one’s thinking big picture. It’s the Cold War, only without the economic and geographic realities to keep the two sides separated. The owners think the players will buckle, the players think the owners are bluffing. Each side’s going to die in this, everyone’s going to lose.

Except hockey. Hockey should make out pretty well.

In July I thought it would be settled by early November. In October I thought maybe Christmas. Now I can’t see it. The optimists are out of hope. Hope is stupid. The only thing being driven here is power and money and ego, and there’s nothing to derail the train. The only way to prove to the other side that they’re not afraid to kill the season is for both sides to kill the season.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe cooler heads will prevail at the players’ meeting Monday. Maybe the threat of decert will magically scare an organization almost entirely lead by lawyers into continuing negotiations on their offer. Maybe … maybe… maybe…

I’m out of maybes. The league’s out of maybes. The players are out of maybes. All that’s left is the press of a button, a mushroom cloud, and a nuclear winter for professional basketball. I’m not even angry anymore. I’m out of energy to be livid at the owners, frustrated with the players, disappointed in leadership. I’m just sorry for every parking lot attendant, concession worker, six-year old fan who would have seen his or her first game, every lifelong fan with season tickets, every writer looking forward to doing what they do best, every player whose career gets irreparably damaged, every community who gets a chunk of their economy removed, every blog writer and every fan, everywhere.

It all ends Monday.


Isiah Thomas wants to replace Billy Hunter. Worst. Idea. Ever.

New York Knicks v New Jersey Nets

What would be the one thing that could make the situation for the NBA union worse? What one person could find a way to take a terrible situation and turn it into an unmitigated disaster?

Hello Isiah Thomas.

From rumormonger Peter Vecsey at the New York Post (so please consume this with liberal amounts of salt) comes a report of a situation very unlikely to ever become reality in this universe (please let it never happen in this universe). But apparently Thomas wants Billy Hunter’s job as head of the NBA players union, according to the New York Post (via Eye On Basketball).

How many would be stunned to learn Florida International University’s current head coach is angling in due course to replace the executive director of the Players Association should its membership feel flogged (compromised following so many compromises) by David Stern upon the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement or if negotiations again break down and additional salary (games) get forfeited?

I have no doubt Thomas would want that job (he was once president of the players union, remember). But he ruined the Continental Basketball Association and the Knicks. I have serious, serious doubts that any player would actually vote to put him in charge. Not even Michael Beasley after a tin of “brownies” would vote for him.

But man, what an idea.

Report: NBA union reps meeting set for Monday morning

Etan Thomas, Billy Hunter, Chris Paul, Maurice Evans, Roger Mason Jr., James Jones

Well, at least we won’t have to wait long for Armageddon.

The NBA players’ union team representatives are set to meet in New York at 9 a.m. Monday morning, according to a tweet from Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune (talking about Wolves rep Anthony Tolliver).

Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter and union leadership will present David Stern and the owners latest ultimatum, er, offer to the players’ representatives — and don’t expect a positive spin. Right now the entire tide of the union seems to be turning on the offer, and while some guys just want to get back to playing (if it went to a secret ballot I think it would pass but many agents think it would not) the key decision makers and union reps seem opposed.

And then… either more talks, or the owners reset offer with a side of union decertification. Pray for more talks, because the reset and decertification is the path to Armageddon.

Tide of players turning against Stern’s latest ultimatum

Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter

It will not be until the first part of next week that we see officially how the players will respond to the latest ultimatum from David Stern and the owners.

But Thursday night union president Derek Fisher seemed hesitant about it, and as Friday wore on more and more players and owners seemed to turn against the deal the more they learned about it. It showed up in twitter, in conversations with sources, just about everywhere.

Check out this quote from an agent that spoke to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (and know that this is the prevailing sentiment out there):

“They’ve lost me,” said one of the previously moderate agents. “Three months ago, we thought this would be done. We thought people would be reasonable.”

Players seemed to be echoing those thoughts. Like what the Pacers Danny Granger told Mike Wells if the Indianapolis Star.

‘From what I’ve seen and heard, the counter offer is the same they presented us a week ago, making a few minor changes that in the big scheme of things that really did nothing to the deal. I would expect that proposal to be rejected after all the players learn more about the deal. The next step I don’t know.'”

Check out the tweets below from Jared Dudley and T.J. Ford that seemed to speak for a lot of players.


My guess is the players will try to do what they did last time Stern made an ultimatum — ignore the threat and try to negotiate off this latest offer.

The bigger question is what Stern and the owners do? If they really do revert to his reset offer and the players start the decertification process, well, how do you feel about talking lockout on Christmas Day?