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: Mar 22, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:48 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

So no Fantasy Basketball this season? 
What the hell am I to do?  

Since: Aug 31, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:40 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

An Armageddon?  Its an end of the world type deal?  This is one of the least watched major sports because of money, egos and many other reasons.  Bring on the college game, if the NBA plays they play, if they don't they don't.  It's not the end of the world if not that many people care about it.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:31 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

You invalidate your entire premise and statement in one idiotic sentence. The only 'color' at issue here, is green.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:28 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

The problem is that as Delmonte West that these guys would have trouble finding work as stockboys if the season is cancelled.  The NBA owners know that 99.9% of all NBA players would still play this game if the max salary were 100K a year.  What else are they going to do?   We are not dealing with the brightest and best people in the NBA.

Take a year off if needed and get it right.  Take back control of the league and make it so EVERY NBA team has a chance to compete and succeed.  The NBA owes that to the fans to get it right.

A 30-40% reduction in salaries will get things back in line

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:26 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

It seems to me that this is between the Agents vs the Owners vs the Players. The people who are squealing the most have the most to lose and that's the Agents. Their are certain economic realities that have moved from society to the fantasy world of Agents and they don't like it. There's greed everywhere from all including the Arenas where games are played, the marketing arms of the NBA, the cities where games are played, the States where players are required to pay taxes in for the games played within their borders, everywhere you look hands are thrust out wanting more. the players make enough, a good portion of owners are losing money. I think a deal would be done if it was between the owners and players, but for the agents, who lost a lot to Football and will dig their heels into the ground not to lose income from Basketball

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:55 am

Clock ticking for Hunter, Stern

Guess we shall see.  It seems probable that the owners are going to continue their unreasonable offers so they can push the NBA to lose the 2011-12 season which they think can enhance their property's value (the value of their NBA team) as a long-term ten+ year investment.  If the owners don't adjust their offer, then it is clear that they locked out the players with the plan to erase a whole season to increase their leverage.
Then we can watch the really idiotic posters blame the players.  The only way to save basketball (regardless of your opinion about the style of play), if for fans to push back against owners.  Of course, most fans seem to lack the ability to intelligently assess what is going on and either want the players to be punished for their skin color or want to make sure the owners get to be happy "job creators"

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