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."

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 8:10 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

@ is not incorrect to compare this to the "average Joe"...the only difference is the amount of money.  Professional athletes are an elite group and deserve a healthy amount of money, that is true.  But the concept of market value, percent of profit, etc remains the same for average joes as well as elite athletes.  I am a teacher and here in the state of Ohio we are under attack because we make too much, have too good of benefits, etc.  I make about $40k, pay 80/20 insurance, and pay 12% towards my retirement every paycheck.  I have managed to save a couple thousand dollars while raising a son.  The NBA players need to look at their percentages like a normal person...the economy is slumping, attendance is down.  Less people are buying $100 jerseys and taking a family of four to a basketball game, spending a couple hundred bucks easily on tickets, parking, concessions, etc.  Every person that I know has had to cut back...less trips, tighter budgets, increased contributions to health care, etc.  These guys make millions, the perennial bench warmer makes over $400,000 a season.  There are people whose jobs rely on an NBA season...the people who work the stadiums, etc.  The players wanted 52% and were offered 50% and would rather sit out a year to get that extra 2%.  They need to realize they have to cut back as well, just like the rest of us.  They will still live much more comfortably than the rest of us but fans will relate better to them because they are cutting back as well.

Since: Dec 25, 2007
Posted on: November 15, 2011 7:00 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

I am not for either side, if it will not lower my price of a ticket to see a game why should I care who makes more money the owners or the players? It should be 40% for the players 35% for the owners and a 25% rollback for the fans on ticket prices, concessions, parking and memorabilia. That is the solution I am for. Also, to the guy that compared this to the average Joe your way off that's like saying a CEO of a fortune 500 company was to ask for more money he/she couldn't get someone to pay his/her price. All professional athletes are part of an elite group we can't do what they do at that level that's why fans go to see them play.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:44 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

These poor guys...those millions just aren't enough.  If I were to go in and demand more from my employer..he would tell me to go get my payday elsewhere.  Yes, there are millions/billions involved but those that are superstars are still going to get paid irregardless.  what might change is that the guys who get overpaid might only make $3 million rather than the $8 or $9 million they don't deserve.  It will also help to knock out these super teams...small markets simply can't compete and will just fade/go away.  Without defending anyone, the owners do have a right to make money...the players have every right to go work a 40 hour a week job if they feel they are being treated so badly.  I have a better idea...go away.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:31 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Couldn't agree more...

Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:46 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

I hope this blows up...Really I hated a lot of the big star player's attitudes...They think that the whole league revolves around them...I feel bad for the rooks and young players trying to make a name for themselves, but in all honesty this is good for the league to go without a season...perhaps next season too. The NBA players just don't know when to man up and take a lesser contract. Who cares if you go from 26 million a year to 20 million? And why do you need to spend the money that fast anyways?

If I had 20 million dollars I could live off just the interest with a decent house, plenty of good trips, food, and even charity. (I think it was if you had 26 million dollars in savings in most banks that pays out to about 1 million a year in interest)

You don't need your 500 Lamborghinis....I hope a lot of those players get what is coming to them...They can't even negotiate without blowing up...I bet they could've gotten 51/49 or even their plan of 52/48 if they remained calm and just took it step by step with the owners instead of going to every meeting and just blow up in arguments.

Yes I do feel really bad for the good guys like Nash and Durant that don't get to play and deserve to play, but for the league image as a whole this will do something good. As more time passes by the owners get a bigger advantage and the more the big stars bicker the more they get humbled. 

Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: November 15, 2011 2:50 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

this gets more stupid and more stupid by the day....honestly i do not care if the NBA has a season and im really getting annoyed bout how noboody can agree on anything on a daily basis. all these idiots are set for life and bickering how to split up billions of dollars. what u need to do is learn how to spilt up zero bc that is what u are making now. it really sux for the people that depend on these games for their lively-hood but who gives a f*** bout them right? if i were a owner, i would go tell these players to go f*** themselves. i mean really, if i own a business, i better be making more profit than the employees are. the NBA players of today just dont seem to get the big picture. im sure some teams will not survive this lockout and the NBA will have to contract. if this happens, then u run the risk of the entire league collasping. have fun splitting those profits up when that happens. the backlash alone could be enough to sink this league. bye bye NBA and have fun players risking your life savings making a new league....what happens if that doesnt work out? greed is an evil demon that can crush the souls of powerful men.

Since: Oct 16, 2010
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:52 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Do you guys really think that the Union is really looking out for the best interests of the players?

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:11 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

again, this is dumb by the players, they have been the one's saying let us play, i mean again its betweern 80 to 160 million that's it, the players now they are the ones who lose in court of public opionon, because this is dumb, and as broussard said tonight if a deal isn't done within the next two days, stern might as well come out and say the enitre 2011-2012 season is lost, yeah players are being stupid, they could've doen this july 1st, this is going to blow-up in there face and guess who will be blamed for a lost 2011-2012 season, it will be the players

Since: Feb 2, 2007
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:02 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Just happy NBA highlights will not be sucking up time on Sportscenter this year.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 15, 2011 12:41 am

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

I for one don't feel bad for the NBA players at all, it's hard to feel bad for someone complaining they're not getting paid enough after they roll up in their Aston Martin, wearing a rolex and diamonds in their ears that could pay my house payments for 2 or 3 years easy.  Most of them get paid way to much for what they do, and if they don't have enough money saved to make it through a lockout season that's a damn shame.  One season lost doesn't compare to the rest of the country that has been out of work a lot longer than one year, especially since we didn't make anything close to what the league minimum is.   I do feel bad for the people who work for the teams and all the people that work at the arenas.  We are in the worst recession ever and it's only going to get worse with all those people losing their jobs.  Luckily for the all those NBA cheerleaders they can go get work at the strip clubs or just go suck off some old fart with money, for some reason that hasn't been affected  by the recession.   
Oh yes, but A Rod is worth what he is paid and so is all the rest of the MLB Players right? Barry Zito is worth what he gets right? Carl Crawford?

You are a complete douchebag.. do you have a daughter? young female cousins? maybe they should "suck me off" how does that sound??? 

I get a kick out of douchebags stuck in dead end jobs who are actually jealous and bitter that these guys make what they do, they didn't invent the game..nor the market, there just taking advantage of it...same thing you would do. there is no way if someone offered you 15 mill a year that you would say no way pal, I feel bad for people who are out of work...give me 5.

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