There were 30 NBA team player representatives — and about another 20 players total — who were in the room in New York on Monday and they voted unanimously to file a Notice of Disclaimer, essentially decertifying the union.
But is that what the full union would have voted to do?
Probably not (many think if the owners’ latest offer had been put to vote of players it would have passed), but we’ll never know because the union did not poll its members.
In fact, union officials were hostile to the idea, reports Henry Abbott at TrueHoop, saying that to do so was to let David Stern and the owners win.
The gist of the response was that you cannot give your adversary direct access to the membership. “That’s not how any union in America, that I’m aware of, operates,” said (union legal counsel Jeffrey) Kessler. If the NBA is just going to send offers straight to the players, why even have a union? The idea is that the union is savvier, and knows a good deal when it sees one. And only when the union is sure that the deal is in players’ best interests will they present it to the workers.
Rockets guard Kevin Martin, by text on Monday morning, said he didn’t care to be represented that way: “I think it’s fair for every player to have a vote, because we’re all grown men and its time for the players to control their career decisions, and not one player per team. If it comes down to a final decision, you got to be fair.”
It’s one thing for the union to reject the offer and look for a way to continue to negotiate. But to start the decertification process without polling the constituency? That’s a big step.
But that’s also where we are.