Blog Entry

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:54 pm
 
NEW YORK -- Unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the NBA, the union representing the players dissolved Monday and paved the way for a potentially lengthy and ugly antitrust lawsuit to be filed within days.

With a unanimous show-of-hands vote from as many as 50 players, the union sent a disclaimer of interest letter to commissioner David Stern, which effectively ended the National Basketball Players Association's role as the collective bargaining agent for the players. Outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and star attorney David Boies -- whom the players met for the first time Monday -- will lead the legal team that will sue the NBA alleging antitrust violations.

"We've negotiated in good faith for over two years," said Billy Hunter, who now becomes executive director of the National Basketball Players Trade Association -- no longer the leader of the players' union. "The players just felt that they've given enough."

Stern, speaking live on league broadcast partner ESPN, called the players' tactic "a charade" and characterized it as a "magical trick" that ultimately will fail.

"What they've done is destroyed incredible value that would've gone to the union membership," Stern said. "... We were very close, and they decided to blow it up."

Stern made no pronouncements about further cancellation of games, but added, "The calendar takes care of that." Although the disclaimer action initiated by union executive director Billy Hunter is more expeditious than a decertification vote initiated by the players, the legal fight that will ensue certainly imperils the 2011-12 season.

"Obviously, Mr. Kessler got his way," Stern said, "and we're about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA."

During a meeting attended by the players' executive committee, player reps from all 30 teams and about 20 more players -- including superstar Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Carlos Boozer, Rajon Rondo and Elton Brand -- union officials presented and explained details of the league's most recent offer. It had been characterized as the final revised proposal the league intended to offer, and if the players didn't accept it, Stern's negotiating position would revert to a harsher offer -- including player salaries being derived from a 47 percent share of revenues, a hard team salary cap and rollbacks of existing contracts.

The deal on the table for the players Monday included a 50-50 split of revenues -- a 12 percent reduction from their previous share of 57 percent -- and a long list of system and spending restrictions. Hunter said the meeting gained momentum and changed in tone once players raised the option of decertification. They ultimately chose the more expeditious option of a disclaimer, with Hunter saying a summary judgment in the antitrust case could possibly be reached in 60 days -- about the length of time it would've taken the National Labor Relations Board to authorize an election through a player-initiated decertification. 

About 200 players already had signed decertification petitions, displeased with the league's negotiating tactics and the concessions made by the union. Among these were 15 players in the meeting Monday, Hunter said.

The former union executive director said he has no intentions of withdrawing the NBPA's unfair-labor practices charge with the NLRB, although it is not clear how the agency will view it now that the union has been dissolved.

While the route the union chose is quicker than decertification, it is no silver bullet for the NBA players to win what are known as "treble damages" -- three times lost earnings resulting from the lockout -- or to eventually get a better deal. For starters, there will be a significant legal fight over where the union is allowed to file its antitrust case. Presumably, the players would prefer to file it in an employee-friendly district in California, under the auspices of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. For this reason, the NBA in August filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, which falls in the employer-friendly 2nd Circuit. 

Once that is resolved, the league will argue that the players' disclaimer is a "sham" -- in other words, a tactic designed to gain negotiating leverage rather than a serious union dissolution. The NFL Players Association tried the same tactic, and started much earlier in the process -- principally because it had no other choice due to a litigated deadline to decertify or disclaim or lose the option going forward.

The NFLPA never got an ultimate ruling on whether the lockout or disclaimer were legal, but instead got a narrow ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal district court did not have the authority to lift the lockout.

"I felt the combination of Boies and Kessler, from my perspective, would be an unbeatable team," Hunter said. "... We feel extremely confident that we can prevail in this matter. That’s the opinion of both lawyers."

In a statement released by the league office after his live TV interview, Stern said, "The 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy," and immediately began laying the groundwork for what could be the mother of all antitrust lawsuits. Stern alluded to a February 2010 bargaining session in which union attorney Kessler threatened that the players would "abandon the collective bargaining process and start an antitrust lawsuit against our teams if they did not get a bargaining resolution that was acceptable to them."

"The NBA has negotiated in good faith throughout the collective bargaining process but -- because our revised bargaining proposal was not to its liking -- the union has decided to make good on Mr. Kessler's threat."
Comments

Since: Aug 17, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:40 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

The real winners here are going to be...  Boies and Kessler.   New beach house in Belize, upgrade that private jet, add another Bentley to the warehouse.  And when this is all over the regular fan still won't be able to take their family to a game without taking out a small loan.




Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:38 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

It's my ultimate hope that the NBA simplifies their player pay scale. I've often posted saying they should be all be paid $250,000 with rate of $1000 per minute played and another $1000 per game started. Plus a generous 10% of the BRI. It would eliminate all these bloated contracts and lopsided trades. It would also give smaller market teams a fair chance of paying their players as much as the bigger market teams do. Ultimately it would save the league billions of dollars ad players would still be wealthy millionaires. The difference will be that players now have to earn their paycheck as opposed to living off the hype.



Since: Jun 18, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:34 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

The owners are asking to effectively reduce salaries to levels just above where they were set two years ago.  Given that NBA salaries have doubled in the the last seven years, this is hardly a major concession.  NBA salaries in the new aggreement will still be around $5mln a year.  Given the relative uselessness of an average bench player in the NBA, this is a tremendous deal.  Players, please get over your pride and understand that fans simply can not pay for yearly increases in ticket prices and concessions forever.  This game is worth nothing without fans.  Take the deal and play.  The owners are not your enemies.  They are the groups begging to pay you all an average of $5mln a year to play for them.  Play.

Good post.  I like the cut of your gib.  I completely agree with the thought that NBA players are getting overly greedy.  Of course the owners are greedy.  They're the owners.  They should set the pay, and if the players don't agree, they can find something else to do with their time.  It's outrageous that players are taking it this far.  How I would love to simply stop working and demand more money.  My employer would show me the door, and probably in more unpleasant terms.  Ridiculous.  Sure, professional sports are different than the corporate world.  But who decided to give these players a chance to make millions anyway?  The players think they deserve better than a 50/50 split?  Players should be outright ashamed of themselves.
  




Since: Sep 11, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:34 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Wow so does this guy work for the NBA or what. Players should get as much as they can when they can period. Capitolism if you can afford a ticket dont go to the game. I sick of the NBA anyway. Players dont play hard until the end of the year. The season needs to be shortened to about 4 months championship game included... Cut the salaries in half cut the seasons in half cut all your cost in half make the ticket evem rarer and charge more for it sell out the arena. If the teams were not playing every other night I might actually care about the season.. make every game more important..
50 game seasonnot 16 teams making the Stupid playoffs..  8 teams make the playoffs and these are 5 game series with the exception of the finals 7 game series. get rid of the all star game too or actually pay the winners more than 10 kor 15k you fine them that easily if they turn there heads the wrong way... 




Since: Mar 28, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:30 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

most of those ghetto thugs can't even SPELL antitrust or litigation. What in the name of God do they think they're going to accomplish, other than nothing at all??



Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:26 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Players are just digging their own grave at this point.  Oh well couldn't be happier, that means more college basketball on sportscenter and more talk about football.  Have a permanent lockout and I wouldn't care one bit.



Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:24 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Fire Stern.



Since: Nov 14, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:20 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Dear NBA players,

The owners are asking to effectively reduce salaries to levels just above where they were set two years ago.  Given that NBA salaries have doubled in the the last seven years, this is hardly a major concession.  NBA salaries in the new aggreement will still be around $5mln a year.  Given the relative uselessness of an average bench player in the NBA, this is a tremendous deal.  Players, please get over your pride and understand that fans simply can not pay for yearly increases in ticket prices and concessions forever.  This game is worth nothing without fans.  Take the deal and play.  The owners are not your enemies.  They are the groups begging to pay you all an average of $5mln a year to play for them.  Play.

Sincerely,

The Fans 



Since: Nov 14, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:19 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Wow. Tough circumstances. Unfair? Life is unfair. Playing into the hands of the owners, they live with lawyers and in courts of law. Ouch. Be careful what you wish for. And what happens if the players actually win in litigation? What kind of league will they or others behind them be left with? Win win?



Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:18 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

They look like a bunch of thugs up there



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