Tag: NBA owners

Los Angeles Lakers Fisher speaks at a news conference alongside Executive Director of the NBA player's association Hunter in New York

Fisher, Hunter send letter to players explaining process


Usually when you are talking NBA and “disclaimer of interest” we’re talking about Carmelo Anthony and defense.

But now we are talking about the legal process and how by the NBA players union filing a disclaimer of interest they are abandoning their place as the negotiating body for the players in getting a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It means anti-trust lawsuits and a whole lot more. It’s complex.

NBPA president Derek Fisher and Director Billy Hunter sent out a letter to NBA players, which was obtained by ESPN. Here are a few highlights.

As a result, we will now function as a trade association to assist and support NBA players, but we will
no longer engage in collective bargaining with the NBA owners…

With no labor union in place, it is our sincere hope that the NBA will immediately end its now illegal boycott and finally open the 2011-12 season. Individual teams are free to negotiate with free agents for your services. If the owners choose to continue their present course of action, it is our view that they subject themselves to significant antitrust liability

If you think the NBA is going to open up free agency, then I am a Nigerian prince with a great money-making plan for you. Just email me.

Also as part of this, the union had to withdraw it’s unfair labor practices complaint against the owners with the National Labor Relations Board. Also, the union can no longer regulate agents.

The process is that the union will file its disclaimer and the league will challenge it as a sham and then it is on in court. The two sides will fight a few legal skirmishes and talk big for a month, then probably start to negotiate again to try and save the season.

But right now it feels like there is little chance of saving that.

In fighting for final dollars, league has cost itself much more

NBA basketball spaulding

Today I and a lot of NBA fans feel like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes.

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

The ultimate stupidity of what has happened with the NBA lockout is that in the fight over the system of movement and the last dollars in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the two sides will have cost themselves hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.

They are fighting over how to divide up the pie, but that pie is about to get a lot smaller. Fans are pissed.

There is almost zero chance of games on Christmas Day, which is when football starts to wind down and the average sports fan starts to turn his or her attention to the NBA.

There will be no games that day, and the backlash will cut the league and its revenue for years. Fans will feel the recession and see no NBA games and rightfully be disgusted.

Fighting over percentages of revenue while at the same time reducing the amount of revenue is maybe the ultimate foolishness on the players’ and owners’ part.

While nobody is blameless, I side with Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com that the owners have been the worst offenders.

They created this system, and everyone’s franchise values rose dramatically since Stern first masterminded the star-players-in-star-cities Strategy. This the owners deciding that profits can be increased and maybe even maximized with a new and more punitive system whose only real feature is that the owners can now be indemnified against their witless exuberance, poor judgment and flat-out mistakes.

And if you think the owners are taking all the financial risk, then you should see who paid for most of their stadiums. You, the taxpayer, did.

The owners’ biggest mistake was not giving the players a way out of the negotiations to save face (it didn’t have to be much). The owners had the big win, but to win by 30 was not enough, they kept on the full-court press and wanted to win by 40. So they gave ultimatums and drove this kind of bargain that was almost certain to make the players fight back with the biggest club they had.

The players are not blameless. They should have decertified long ago, not pushed the button and blown it all up Monday as time to save the season has run out. You can make an argument that they should have taken commissioner David Stern’s latest offer or at least put the entire thing to a vote of the entire union membership. If they accepted the offer, they still would be making incredible money to play a game.

But where we are now is that the sides are fighting over a shrinking pie. If they had solved this like adults, everyone would have gotten their fill. Now the game suffers and everyone goes hungry.

I feel like Heston right now.

Only hope for NBA season is rational negotiations. Which is bad.


The courts are not going to solve the NBA lockout.

That’s where the process is headed after the union started taking steps to abandon its right to negotiate for the players. Anti-trust lawsuits will follow. Along with plenty of heated rhetoric from both sides.

Yet, only one thing can save part of an NBA season at this point — rational people resuming negotiations, something we have yet to see much of from either side. Still, that is the only hope for fans who want a 2011-12 NBA season.

It could happen; there are plenty of smart people who have predicted these talks would come down to the first week in January and the drop-dead date for a season to take place — just like happened in 1999. And some kind of season would be saved, just like then. It’s just hard to be even that optimistic right now.

League commissioner David Stern is right that the players’ plan to decertify the union, followed by anti-trust lawsuits against the league, is more negotiating tactic than long-term play. It certainly is all about leverage in negotiations, unless you think the players are willing to miss not only this season but the next one (and maybe the one after that) to take its anti-trust efforts all the way through the courts to a ruling (they are not). That’s more than $4 billion in lost player salary not to mention the legal fees. No way the players will push it that far.

This is a grab by the players at temporary leverage in the negotiations. They have felt powerless, backed into a corner with offers they didn’t like and ultimatums from Stern, so they finally reached for the one big weapon they had.

What happens now? Nobody knows. Not really. The goal of the union’s moves today was to throw uncertainty into the system, and it has done that. We know there will be anti-trust lawsuits, we know the sides will sling verbal arrows at each other, but after that this is unpredictable.

Except that again, at some point, the owners and players will have to talk and negotiate a deal.

This decertification process is basically what the NFL union did — however, the narrow rulings in that case don’t give us much of a picture for how the efforts will fare in the NBA. But in the end, the NFL is playing right now because its owners and players hammered out a deal at the negotiating table.

It’s the same for the NBA— this will be a negotiated settlement when all is said and done. The difference is NFL owners and players seemed more willing to compromise to make a deal (particularly the owners who do turn a profit in the NFL).

Right now no talks are scheduled and you can bet it will be weeks (at least) before the sides talk again. If when those talks start the owners stick with Stern’s promise to use a “reset” offer that gives the players less money and to put in a hard salary cap, then those talks were going nowhere.

But if the sides can negotiate from where they left off in their latest talks, they are fully capable of making a deal. They are not that far apart. There are philosophical and systematic issues, but they are solvable.

We just need some rationality. At some point. From somewhere. Anywhere.

David Stern calls union’s move “bad negotiating tactic”

David Stern, Adam Silver

UPDATE 3:58 pm: Here is commissioner David Stern’s official statement, released by the league:

“At a bargaining session in February 2010, Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for the union, threatened that the players would abandon the collective bargaining process and start an antitrust lawsuit against our teams if they did not get a bargaining resolution that was acceptable to them.

“In anticipation of this day, the NBA filed an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board asserting that, by virtue of its continued threats, the union was not bargaining in good faith. We also began a litigation in federal court in anticipation of this same bargaining tactic.

“The NBA has negotiated in good faith throughout the collective bargaining process, but — because our revised bargaining proposal was not to its liking – the union has decided to make good on Mr. Kessler’s threat.

“There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy.”

3:35 pm: Minutes after the NBA players’ union held a press conference saying they would decertify, David Stern went on ESPN to decry the move and say it was a mistake by players that would cost the season.

Stern spun it so that it was the players who pushed the button, saying his side had put forth a fair labor offer that the players rejected. Here are the key points of Stern’s comments.

• Stern says this wasn’t really a surprise, that the union and its legal counsel have threatened this from the start. The league expected this, which is why they filed a pre-emptive lawsuit to try to cut it off at the knees. (That case is early in the process, and there have been no rulings.)

• Along those lines, Stern keeps calling decertification a negotiating tactic. Which it is. But by all indications (based on the owners’ actions) it is the one they feared.

• Stern again tries to appeal directly to the players, saying they should ask the union why they did this now. That has been his pattern for weeks, to use the media to talk directly to the players. He talks about the players’ missing paychecks a lot.

• Stern said they did not give the players an ultimatum. Yes, they did. A proposal where you say, “If you don’t take it, we’re going to make a much worse offer next time” is an ultimatum. And it’s that hardline, take-it-or-leave-it phrasing that doomed this process as much as anything else. Neither side has negotiated well, acting a lot more like 5-year-olds fighting over who gets to play with the Transformer toy.

• Stern is spot on with this comment: “If they were going to do this, maybe they should have done this a long time ago so we had a chance to save the season. But they seem hell-bent on self-destruction.”

• Man, Stern really hates NBA legal council Jeffrey Kessler. It’s palpable. And by all accounts mutual.

Video: NBA players announce plans to decertify union

Derek Fish of NBA players association speaks during news conference to reject NBA's latest offer in New York
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Here is the video of union leaders Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, backed by about 50 players, announcing they are rejecting the NBA’s latest offer and planning to decertify the union.

Watch the NBA season fade away right before your eyes. Enjoy.