Tag: NBA Players Association

Dave Andreychuk

Another NHL player warns NBA counterparts it’s not worth it

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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.

NBA owners to have strategy conference call Thursday

David Stern

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.

Attorneys for NBA, players exchange a few legal shots

NBA lockout Stern Hunter
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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.

When labor talks restart, who can be NBA’s Robert Kraft?

NFLPA Executive Committee Meet In Washington DC To Vote On New Labor Agreement

Right now, the lawyers are the guys putting on the show. The players have their big-gun attorney David Boies filing an antitrust lawsuit. Within a couple days David Stern (a lawyer) and his legal team will respond with their own legal maneuvers trying to crush the rebel alliance, and that will garner headlines.

But the way this will end is with settlement talks.

The argument technically shifts from “how do we build a collective bargaining agreement?” to “what collective bargaining agreement can we reach so we can throw the lawsuit out?” but it is essentially the same — two sides talking across a table. When the owners and players agree on a CBA the lockout and all this will end.

They did that in the NFL when Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Colts center Jeff Saturday threw the lawyers out of the room and agreed to keep negotiating, regardless of what advice they got from said lawyers. From ProFootballTalk, here is what Saturday said:

“The big shift came when owners and players began to negotiate by ourselves,” Saturday told NFL Network. “You really began to see men’s personalities and what they believe in. Robert Kraft was instrumental in getting this deal done. … Each and every one of us understood what he was going through.”

Have the NBA negotiations ever been humanized like that?

The NFL sides met for 16 straight days and hammered out a deal. The NFL season started on time.

For all the legal wrangling (and the differences in the talks), that is how the NBA lockout will end. Lawyers will want to use litigation to solve problems the same way surgeons will want to cut even when it is not the best strategy. Somebody needs to take charge, be rational, put Stern and the hardliners to the side, and just make this happen.

The problem is, who can be the NBA’s Robert Kraft?

Mark Cuban? He has the personality, but would the hardliners really accept the deal from one of the biggest spending owners (The only team that has spent more in the last decade on salary is the Knicks. Thanks, Isiah!). Small-market owners see him as part of the problem, not the solution.

Michael Jordan? He’s a hardliner that the players don’t trust right now so he will not work. It’s not the personality of Jerry Buss (or even Jeanie) to leap into this kind of fray, plus they again are big spenders. James Dolan? Do you really want him to craft a complex business deal about basketball? Same with Micky Arison. He can pick the place I go to dinner anytime but not sure he gets to be the man here.

Could a hardliner from the owners become the voice of reason and pull it off — Ted Leonsis (Washington), Herb Kohl (Milwaukee), or even, gulp, Dan Gilbert? (Insert your own “CBA written in Comic Sans” joke here, I’m not doing it for you.) Maybe a moderate such as Peter Holt (San Antonio) could, although he has been in front the whole time and nothing.

It’s the same on the players’ side — who could be their Jeff Saturday? Derek Fisher, Chauncey Billups, maybe even Etan Thomas?

Both sides are not going to like the ultimate deal struck, that’s how negotiations work. But if the NBA season is to be saved in some form, the sides need to start viewing each other as people not enemies to vanquish. Somebody is going to have to take charge, be rational and not take no for an answer.

Sadly, I just don’t see who can do it.

NBA players, owners let the lawyers do the sniping now

Empty Amway Arena

There was a pattern to this NBA lockout in the last couple months — not a comfortable one, but a pattern. The NBA and its players union wouldn’t talk for a week or so, then they would have two or three days of wildly intense negotiations. Then it would blow up and they would snipe at each other in press conferences. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Now, the NBA union is no more, reduced to a trade organization by disclaimer of interest. The battle has moved to the courts, and now the lawyers are doing the sniping.

Here is what the players lead antitrust attorney David Boies told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (and the response from the league).

“There’s one reason and one reason only that the season is in jeopardy,” Boies told reporters at the Harlem headquarters of the former players’ union, which was dissolved Monday and reformed as a trade association to pave the way for the lawsuits. “And that is because the owners have locked out the players and have maintained that lockout for several months. … The players are willing to start playing tomorrow if (the owners) end the boycott.”

A statement released by the league office Tuesday night, spokesman Tim Frank said: “We haven’t seen Mr. Boies’ complaint yet, but it’s a shame that the players have chosen to litigate instead of negotiate. They warned us from the early days of these negotiations that they would sue us if we didn’t satisfy them at the bargaining table, and they appear to have followed through on their threats.”

Legally, the players are going after a summary judgment — a quick win based on the facts of the case not a hearing. If the players got that win and were awarded treble damages (three times their lost salary) they would certainly have the leverage they have sought to force the owners not only back to the table but to back off some demands. But it’s a long shot, and the owners could get a summary judgment as well and cut the players off at the knees. There is risk for the players.

The players PR strategy now is a variation of the “let us play” theme — we wanted to play so much we gave up $280 million a season to the owners, covering their losses, but that was not enough. The lawsuit in Minnesota seeks to throw Stern’s tactics right back at him.

The lawsuit quoted Stern’s own demands when he issued two ultimatums to the union during the final week of talks, threatening the players both times to accept the offer (with a 50-50 revenue split and various restrictions on trades and player salaries) or be furnished a worse offer in which the players’ salaries would have been derived from 47 percent of revenues in a system that included a hard team salary cap and rollbacks of existing contracts — all deal points the two sides had long since negotiated past and abandoned.

Asked if Stern made a mistake issuing the ultimatums that ended the talks, Boies said, “If you’re in a poker game and you bluff, and the bluff works, you’re a hero. Somebody calls your bluff, you lose. I think the owners overplayed their hand.”

I’ll agree with that. The problem is the owners’ hand was still a better one than the players’ hand. The players have no leverage. The legal maneuvers are great and all, but at the end of the day the owners and players (an now their lawyers) are going to have to sit down across from each other and negotiate a deal. Like the NFL did. The sooner that both sides of the NBA labor debacle realize that and start trying, the better.