Blog Entry

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:29 am
NEW YORK -- Contrary to popular belief, the most important fight being waged Tuesday in Manhattan is not David Stern vs. Billy Hunter, nor is it the NBA vs. the players.

Fight No. 1 will occur at 10:30 a.m. in another happenin' hotel in the city, when Stern and his cabinet meet with the owners privately to set their strategy for what could be the last bargaining session with the players for a very long time. Fight No. 1(a) is Hunter's fight, and that one begins in earnest after the owners-player talks blow up spectactularly at noon.

One is contingent on the other. If Stern is unable to rein in his owners and insist on offering the players a fair deal that they will accept -- if he is unable to win fight No. 1 -- then Hunter's fight is inevitable. There is real frustration, venom and fury ready to be unleashed by a cadre of powerful agents who represent enough players to turn this process into a cataclysm that will bring basketball to its knees.

Billy "Giveback" Hunter, one agent referred to him as on the phone early Tuesday -- and it got worse from there, much more mean-spirited and unfair and too angry, honestly, to publish any more. There is real anger here among the agents, some of whom are advising their clients not to vote for a deal that gives back one dollar of the players' 57 percent of revenues -- even as the National Basketball Players Association is believed to have offered 53 percent and maybe lower. What the agents are fighting for now has already left the barn, hasn't it?

"Nothing has left the barn," one of the agents said. "The vote will determine what's left the barn."

The agents want their players to be able to vote in a private setting on any deal Hunter and the union agree too, and they want their clients to have more than 24 hours to digest the particulars. They don't want another show-of-hands vote like the one that ended the 1998-99 lockout, in which every player had the "opportunity to vote," as it states in the union bylaws, but less than half the membership actually voted.

"A Libyan vote," one agent characterized it as. "It was a pep rally."

The agents are furious with Hunter and want a piece of Stern and the owners, too. It is clear that even if Hunter reached a deal Tuesday on a percentage of BRI the union already has offered, there's no guarantee he'll get it past a vote -- only a guarantee that Hunter would be out of a job.

Hunter has always been in an impossible position in these negotiations, and I personally don't blame him for the bargaining and legal strategies he's pursued and for those he's left unexplored. The agents -- seven of whom wrote to their clients over the weekend urging them to dig in -- have only seen one viable option since 12:01 a.m. on July 1: decertification and an antitrust lawsuit. Never mind that decertification didn't work for the NFL players in their lockout, and that it resulted in a sweeping victory for the owners in that sport, too. Never mind that agents work in a profession that, by definition, requires duplicity to be successful. Never mind that the agents can't even seem to agree on what their letter says; one insisted Monday that it urges players to accept "no further reduction" in BRI from what the union has offered, while another said the line in the sand was 57 percent.

Union president Derek Fisher, thrust into a tempest of politics and age-old grudges that make Shaq vs. Kobe look like a game of pattycake, responded with a letter of his own Monday night rebuking the agents. This game of pen pal is nice and quaint, and now the powder keg gets wheeled into the room at noon ET Tuesday for the real fireworks.

It's a mess, a basketball Armageddon that only Stern and his owners, and then Stern and Hunter -- doing their last bargaining dance with jobs and legacies on the line -- can forestall.
Happy Tuesday. 

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:03 pm

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

The truth of the matter is that the players can be replaced (I like the NCAA, and the tourney better anyway) but the owners cannot be replaced,

LOL...  Right. Its the owners who make the NBA go round and round. You could trade NBA teams on wall street and as long as you have the most talented players in the world the league will generate money. It boggles my mind that you think the 65 year old billionaire, as opposed to Kobe, Lebron, Howard etc. is the guy the NBA needs to exist? Im not paying anything close to what they wanna charge to watch inferior talent play. And dont fool yourself into thinking college kids are gonna play in the NBA just because its the NBA. They will play where the best players in the world play because thats the league that will be generating the most money. If the NBA wants to be a 2nd fiddle league then they will take YOUR advice. In case you havent realized it, the so called replaceable players collectively generate BILLIONS of dollars. You may be willing to dismiss that, but I dont think the NBA is.

Since: Oct 4, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:36 pm

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Let them all rot, does anyone care about the owners or players?  Let the owners go without their toys, and let some of these players go into the workforce so they can see that it isnt so easy to make a buck.  The NBA isnt real basketball anyway, the game has evolved to much less of a team game and turned into one on one, isolation garbage.  The athletes are world class, but the game is boring ( until the playoffs) and even then it was not must see tv.  I wont miss the NBA a bit, I hope they cancel the season, and the next season, and so on.  Go play in Europe, I would rather invest my time in other sports or college basketball.

Since: Mar 27, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:02 pm

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Just cancel the season already!  Who needs the NBA with its over-hyped, over-paid primadonnas anyways.  I'm going to be watching a lot of college BB and Hockey this winter!

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:01 pm

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Time for the owners to stand up to the agents and the high priced players.  The owners need to get rid of the star system and make sure the bench players get a fair share.  That way the players will pass the agreement.  There are more bench players than stars.  The agents are even more greedy that the owners, with the star players just as bad.  Bring on replacement players, lower ticket prices and fans will come to watch basketball not some star dunking the ball!!!!!

Since: Aug 15, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:39 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

 If Stern is unable to rein in his owners and insist on offering the players a fair deal that they will accept
Some of whom are advising their clients not to vote for a deal that gives back one dollar of the players' 57 percent of revenues

It is funny that you say the owners are unreasonable but yet say nothing about the players and agents that say they will not vote for anything that is less than the 57% they have now. That sounds like a double standard doesn’t it? Why is it the owners that get blamed for not giving in when they have come much farther from their starting point than the players, and they are the ones that shouldn't have to? The truth of the matter is that the players can be replaced (I like the NCAA, and the tourney better anyway) but the owners cannot be replaced, there are fewer billionaires in the world that are willing to spend that much money on a hobby than you may think. 

Since: Jun 5, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:28 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Stay strong, owners.  Lock them out for the entire season.  Maybe the NBA will be an entertaining product again when the playing field is leveled out a bit.  As it is now, there are 8-10 teams in the league that "matter" so to speak, and if your team isn't have one of them, it's not worth watching.  Fix it now by locking them out for an entire year.  They'll be begging to sign your offer come Fall of 2012.

Since: Jan 5, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:03 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern


    For the sake of argument, let’s say I am the highest
    producing salesman at the dealership. So I walk into my General Manager’s
    office and demand 57% of all my future sales what do you think would be his
    response? I will tell you “DON’T LET THE DOOR SLAP YOUR ASS ON THE WAY
    . This is how it would
    play out in 100% of business’ in America.

      The players already make more money playing a sport that is populated with THUGS and uneducated elitist
    players! The Bird, Magic era saved basketball. Now the LaBron, Wade and the
    other current so called “ELITE” player’s  who could not carry Bird’s and Magic’s jock
    strap let alone compare with their abilities on the court are Hell bent to
    destroy the League!   With the highsalaries comes high ticket prices which has precluded most average families
    from taking their family of 3 to a game. I am 55yrs old and remember when I
    played Little league and my team won the league championship. Our team sponsor “Dexter
    shoe” got us tickets to the Celtic and Knicks pre-season game held in Bangor, Maine.
    I will tell you that was the high light of the year maybe even the next 5
    years. Today I would refuse the tickets, I refuse to pander to these so called athletes
    or should I say “THUGS”


Since: Mar 23, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:32 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

The "REAL" problem isn't the few elite players. The real problem is the inflated egos of the owners and the real mystery is why the media and the fans always seem to let the off the hook. 

5 or 6 teams making money?  Wake up there's lots of businesses that are loosing money in this economy.  Why should the owners be gauranteed a profit?  Their salary structure is no mystery, they're the ones in charge of the contracts.  Because some of them suck at running a basketball franchise after paying, and in many cases over paying, for the business now suddenly the salaries are out of balance?  They didn't know how much the salarie s where going to be before they bought in?  Of course they did.  

"Uncontrolled spiral of spending"?  You're kidding?  Don't these teams have accountants?  Can't they project their own freaking earnings?  Someone is forcing them to pay Kobe 25 mil per season and loose money in the process?  That whole line of reasoning is idiotic.  

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:58 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

The simplest truth is lost in the machinations of all this...and it's no accident.

The players union may be well meaning, but they are protecting the wolves that want to eat the rest of them.

This isn't about "fair" labor, it's about a few players and agents asking for unfair compensation at everyone else's expense.
The owners have a disfunctional financial arrangement they can't live with anymore-one where 5-6 teams make money, and every other team loses. You can't have a league with 5-6 teams... or 25 players that bankrupt the league.  

The REAL problem here is that the few, elitely paid players and their agents are leading the union around by the nose, and forcing owners to face fiscal reality...the elite players have made enough money already, and are content to hold the rest of the stakeholders in the NBA-owners, "lesser" players , AND fans hostage, holding out for continuation of the same money pit that has made them the wealthiest players in NBA history, while threatening the NBA with folding under that uncontrolled spiral of spending.

It's time, for probably the first time in their lives, the Kobe's LeBrons, Wades, Carmelo's, and their agents, have to be told NO MORE. 

"Fair" labor complaints draw little sympathy when the average player makes $5 mil a year. It's a free country- players should have the right to go play overseas if they find it more "fair" there, and owners should have a right to run their business, protect their investment, and limit their risk by signing other players who do find the NBA a "fair" market to work in. Unfortunately, the mega stars and their mega agents, have tried to make both the union and owners believe that neither can survive without them, at whatever price they want. So far, it's worked...but giving in to these media sociopaths again, won't solve the problem. All else equal, the simplest answer is the best, and It's time for the owners to draw a hard line, stick to it, and go forward WITHOUT players that refuse to agree to a re-designed salary structure than insures the future life of the NBA, especially since it's one where players will make millions more than they could in any other venue.    

Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:56 am
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