NBA player union

Could Al Horford be the next Players Association president?

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After watching the grind that Derek Fisher went through this summer as president of the National Basketball Players Association — the players union — it’s hard to imagine a lot of guys lining up for that job. Then again, look at the pressure and public beating any United States president takes and you wonder why anyone would seek that job as well, yet plenty of candidates (qualified and not so qualified) line up every four years.

Fisher will be on the job as the president of the union as long as he is on the job as the Lakers point guard (such as it is). He seemed one rational head in a room filled with irrationality this summer. He got good reviews from both sides.

But who is next? How about Al Horford, suggests Marc Stein at ESPN.

File away Horford’s name as a likely down-the-road top contender to succeed the Lakers’ Derek Fisher as president of the players’ union….

But when Fisher has had enough — he has two years left on a four-year term after re-election in 2009 — word is that Horford will draw strong consideration as his successor.

Horford, like Fisher, appears level headed. What is interesting is that during the 1999 lockout the union leadership was mostly star players, then after that a concerted effort was put in place to make the leadership more representative of all players. That mandate may stay for the union’s executive committee, but the All-Star Horford would be back to big names.

It may not be a huge issue for a few years, the next opt-out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is in 2017, six years into the 10-year deal.

NBA players launch “let us play” twitter campaign


Sunday night at the Drew League vs. Goodman League, the NBA players were on script — they said they just wanted to play. To a man. It was like a mantra repeated in both locker rooms.

Monday, they took the campaign to twitter.

NBA players starting with union president Derek Fisher and on through LeBron James, Chris Paul, Gilbert Arenas and maybe 100 others started doing tweets like this.


It’s an effort to get public support and the fans behind them.

It’s not going to matter — if, or when, NBA games are lost, fans are not going to leave either side blameless. Nor should they, both sides deserve blame. I’ve said the owners deserve the majority of blame, but both sides are going to get it from fans. This is $4 billion in the fans money that the owners and players can’t figure out how to divide amongst themselves.

So the twitter campaign is nice, but the wrath that comes your way is deserved.

And lest you think all NBA players are on board, we have this from Brian Cardinal.


NFL issues could help motivate NBA labor deal

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It’s hard to be optimistic about the NBA labor situation — and I am by nature and optimist — but today there were a few rays of light into the darkness.

It comes from David Stern, talking to the Associated Press, discussing the mess that is the NFL labor situation.

“It seemed that at the end of the bargaining between the NFL and the players, one got the sense that in the last day or two they had closed the gap,” Stern said Thursday. “I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but that’s what I read. And you wonder as an outsider whether it would have been a good thing to close that gap a few days earlier, a couple of weeks earlier so that you had the opportunity and the plan to do that.”

“Frankly, we’re running out of time,” (NBA Deputy Commissioner and lead negotiator Adam) Silver said. “We have roughly two months and a week to get a deal done before the expiration of this collective bargaining agreement. And I think on that point, Billy Hunter and the union are in full agreement with us that we need to intensify these discussions.”

They are not going to get a deal done by July 1. There is going to be a lockout this summer. And in another parallel to the NFL situation, that does not matter.

All that matters is if a deal is struck in time for the full regular season to go forward on time. That is the real deadline. Hardcore fans will come back; casual fans will not care if games are not missed. The brilliant Henry Abbott at ESPN’s TrueHoop is optimistic on this count.

Having spoken to the central figures at some length in the past few weeks, I’ll predict that precisely zero regular season games will be lost to a lockout next fall…. I say that because:

•The future holds great things for both parties if the league maintains something like its current relationship with fans.

•Both sides recognize the real long- and short-term costs of a lockout.

•And because both sides strike me as pragmatic enough to sign on the dotted line should a reasonable deal be placed before them.

I can’t tell you how much I hope Abbott is right.

But the people I talk to (people tied to owners among them) say there is a hard-core group of owners who are hawks on some key revenue issues, and at the end of the day Stern works for the owners. Those owners want radical changes in the NBA’s financial structure (basically a healthy change in the Basketball Related Income number, where currently 57 percent goes to the players) and don’t think that can happen until players miss paychecks (and players don’t get their first check until Nov. 15). So, games would be missed.

I want to think that cooler heads will prevail. Stern and Hunter are cooler heads. Everyone talks about what is at stake. But know that some of the owners look a lot like the Heat Miser going into this.

But I’m optimistic, so I hold out hope.