NBA players union president Derek Fisher is making his case directly to the players. And he’s trying to get control of Thursday’s NBA players meeting in Las Vegas before it even starts.
Fisher sent a letter to every NBA player Thursday, one that was leaked to Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated. (Fisher said in the letter he knew it would be leaked and was being transparent.) Follow that link to the entire letter, but hear is the meat of it:
The most recent meetings in New York were effective. What you have been told by your agents, representatives and the media is probably speculative and inaccurate.
What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides. The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.
So it is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement we as a smaller group deemed reasonable.
Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I’d like to address it. I’ve read yesterday’s stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I’ve answered their questions, I’ve been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I’m working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don’t make a commission, I don’t make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.
It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives….
So to each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this…I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15 year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much. I’m a teammate, I’m a father, I’m a son, I’m a husband, I’m a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask each of you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive. We’re ready.
A couple thoughts:
This is clearly Fisher trying to get ahead of the curve. What players and everyone else has heard is that while the players have made concessions the owners want both a larger share of the Basketball Related Income pie and they want a hard salary cap. Players have given back about four percentage points of BRI (from 57 percent to 53 percent) but will not give up that and accept a hard cap.
Which means we are basically at square one. Which means the players in the room Thursday will want to hear a plan. This is Fisher getting in front of that curve without giving away too much.
This letter plus bringing in DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL player’s union, is an attempt to cut off the decertification talk. This clearly will be a big meeting topic. Decertification is a plan, an aggressive one, and in the absence of other options players will consider it.
Maybe the most interesting part is Fisher saying the real problem is a divided ownership. Clearly there are disagreements among the owners — they spent more than half of Tuesday’s big meeting caucusing amongst themselves — but the owners also are not breaking ranks. Guys like Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who had huge advantages in the old system, is down with a hard cap and more revenue sharing. The Celtics owners, guys like Mark Cuban are considered hawks on this deal. The owners are not going to break if that is what the players are counting on.
What is a good sign for these negotiations is that a level headed guy like Fisher is leading the players’ side.