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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: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:27 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

I think Vancouver is happy about now , that they got out of the NBA.



Since: May 29, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:22 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

And the Hawks will go somewhere where people actually care about basketball,

There a lot of big and/or glamorous markets currently without teams?

Cuz that's what you need to attract coalitions of star players.  Otherwise, you're just another small market team with fans that rapidly won't give a damn.



Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:19 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Well, there will be plenty of college basketball to watch this season. Once the season is officially toast, the NCAA and NIT tournaments are going to be steep in cash flow as basketball fans cram the airwaves and the arenas to enjoy hoop without multimillion dollar players and owners in full whine mode. 
What bites is the local economies (especially those near the stadiums) that will take the hit and those people who have to fight to make a living. I sincerely doubt we'll see the superstars willing to help the hand that feeds them (i.e. the average coliseum workers).
But, oh well...see you next year!
 



Since: May 29, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:19 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Your cra---zzzaayy. Of course they have leverage. They have a very strong anti trust case. How can you as a programmer be drafted by IBM in Seattle and not be allowed to work for Google in New York. Your simple!
_____________

A. Don't call people "simple" if you can't spell "you're".

B. In your scenario, IBM is the NBA.  Google is a basketball league in Europe.  If you work for IBM and you don't like the branch they've stationed you at, then you are free to go to Google.  IBM isn't holding a gun to your head.  But if you choose to work for them, then you've got to follow their rules.

You can argue that each team is an individual company, but they are really part of a league/association that is truly the "company".  It's not like these "individual companies" can operate individually, so the argument is very disingenuous (not that that stops some people).

I've always thought pro teams should cede official "ownership" to their leagues as an umbrella corporation, leaving the owners as "managers" for each of the league's "branches" (they lose no decision-making powers or income).  That way they could kill the sham about the league being a number of individual corporations and be rid of the anti-trust bullsh*t forever.  But I doubt the owners would agree.

C. Football had a much better argument in its anti-trust case (since there are numerous alternatives to the NBA for these players), and that tactic didn't work for the NFLPA.

D. Anyone that advocates that professional players should be allowed to just go to whatever team they want whenever they want obviously doesn't care about the sport, since that would lead to chaos that would kill professional sports.




Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:00 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

My company has season tickets to the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and various Georgia and Georgia Tech football and basketball games that we give to clients and employees to use.

 The truth is everyone wants the Falcons, Braves, and college tickets. It is no exageration that we often cant give away the NBA Hawks tickets for free. We literally had more requests for our tickets to the minor league hockey team 30 miles north of town in Gwinnett than we did for the Hawks.

sorry fanboys...but thats the truth
And the Hawks will go somewhere where people actually care about basketball, just like the Thrashers left and The Flames before them.... Braves attendance has also dwindled a lot.. Any NFL city that can't draw well for like 7 or 8 home games doesn't deserve to have a team...so that's no accomplishment. 



Since: Sep 17, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:57 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

I have never been more thankful that we cancelled our season tickets this year. Not another dime of my money will ever go to the NBA.



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:57 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

R.I.P. To The NBA. 



Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:43 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

For those who have not been paying attention, there's not a great deal of difference between the NBA and the top 5 or so college programs -- programs that exist mainly as one-year training sessions for the high-priced recruits. If you think the NCAA is going to allow that to change, guess again. Money that isn't being spent on the NBA will just be shifted over to the college game.
White guys still won't get recruited.




Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:40 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

Your cra---zzzaayy. Of course they have leverage. They have a very strong anti trust case.  How can you as a programmer be drafted by IBM in Seattle and not be allowed to work for Google in New York. Your simple!




Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:40 pm
 

NBA players blow up union, take fight to court

"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."

Wow, Billy!  So you asked two lawyers what they thought about their own skills and beliefs about being able to win a case, and surprise, surprise, their opinion was that they would no doubt prevail?  I hope you got that opinion in writing with an iron-clad money-back guarantee for the sake of the NBA players you are about to screw over with your mismanagement.


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