Tag: NBA owners

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Players file first antitrust suit in Minnesota, official one in California


Well, the NBA is in the courts now, not on the courts.

Four players — Anthony Tolliver, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler and recent No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams (who does not yet have an NBA contract) — became the first plaintiffs in a players suit to challenge the lockout on antitrust grounds. This first lawsuit was filed in Minnesota and was a class action representing all players. Minnesota is where the NFL players filed their case, a place the players see as friendly to their case.

However, that was not the main suit filed by the players antitrust attorneys. It was a different action and one some reports suggest the union was surprised by.

A second — and the players’ official — suit was filed in Northern California with the plaintiffs being Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe and Kawhi Leonard (another rookie without a contract).

The first lawsuit states (according to the AP) that the owners’ lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act.”

The players are framing this as a restraint of trade issue, saying the owners’ proposed CBA would have damaged the free market for players to ply their trade.

This lawsuit was made possible by Billy Hunter and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) leadership filing a “disclaimer of interest” Monday, essentially saying the union was no longer interested in representing the players in contract negotiations. This legal strategy is the course NBA player team representatives decided to take Monday.

The next move by the players will be to file for summary judgement — a ruling from a judge that they win on the facts alone.

The league will soon step in and first challenge the entire disclaimer as a sham, saying essentially that the union has been negotiating for two years, it can’t just walk away and say it’s not a union anymore.

The second battle will be over venue. The owners filed a preemptive lawsuit trying to block union decertification in August, and they filed it in New York. One of the first issues to be decided will be if these cases need to be in the same venue and decided by one judge, and if so which venue.

This is just the start of the legal wrangling that could well doom the entire NBA season.

Video: CNBC’s Darren Rovell talks missed NBA paychecks

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Tuesday would have been the first payday of the first payday of the year for NBA players — as of today they are missing paychecks. How much money are we talking? CNBC’s Darren Rovell breaks it out for some of the big names and yes, Kobe Bryant just missed a more than $1 million payday. But of course, that’s before taxes, after taxes it’s barely enough to live on (*cough*).

Some owners thought going into this that if the players missed a paycheck or two the owners leverage would skyrocket. Instead, the players have dissolved the union as its negotiator and filed antitrust lawsuits against the owners. They are fighting back.

Which may well doom the season.

Major NBA sponsor MillerCoors cuts off payments during lockout

NBA Labor Basketball

Tuesday — November 15 — would have been the first day that NBA players had gotten paychecks if there were an NBA season. It’s not a huge shock we got this far. Some owners wanted the players to feel the pain of missed money, thinking the players would cave when it happened. (The players response on Monday was to push back the hardest way they knew how.)

But the owners are going to feel a financial pinch, too.

Not only is there lost revenue from gate receipts, now some sponsors are pulling back, too. That includes MillerCoors, a major sponsor for the league, according to the Journal Sentinel (via SLAM).

MillerCoors, which spends heavily on sports advertising and has sponsorship deals with many NBA teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, disclosed Monday that it had been withholding payments to its NBA partners.

Peter Marino, a MillerCoors spokesman, said the payments will be made in full upon resolution of the bitter dispute….

In addition to MillerCoors, BMO Harris Bank has a sponsorship arrangement with the Bucks. A spokesman said the bank had not suspended payments to the Bucks.

You can bet it’s not just the Bucks — a lot of owners are feeling the pinch. And when MillerCoors and others said they will pay in full, what they are really saying is “paying our prorated share.”

The thing is, those teams and owners can hold out without the cash flow a lot longer than the players. They are feeling some pain, but a lot less of it than the players the longer this drags on.