Blog Entry

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:28 am
 
Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Thump.

That's the sound of the bus backing up and rolling over Billy Hunter.

On Monday, Hunter, as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, announced that the players union would be disbanding so that the players could file multiple antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. That bold move, which came as a surprise to many and potentially could lead to the cancellation of the entire 2011-2012 season, has brought his predecessor out of the woodwork.

In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, Charles Grantham, the executive director of the NBPA from 1988-1995, said that the NBA players should be playing games right now and not chasing the possibility of legal victories while missing paychecks.
"Today, we spend too much time in the court, with too many lawyers. … Instead of having 10 lawyers and an economist you should probably have 10 CPAs or forensic accountants and two lawyers," said Grantham, a guest lecturer on professional sports negotiations at Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business. "In this case, (the players are) looking to use the law to gain leverage, to get a better business deal, when, in fact, the negotiations that should be taking place is with regard to how you divide that (every) $100."

"My philosophy was to keep the guys working, because they lose income that's not recoverable," he said. "They're employees. They're not partners. … Let's not get this twisted, (players) don't sit in the boardroom."
You can just see NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver opening up their newspaper on Friday morning and breaking out into a synchronized Dougie. The reverse equivalent of these comments would be if a former NBA commissioner held a press conference to call the hard-line owners greedy while admitting that their goal of improving competitive balance is a total crock and is actually just a poor excuse for drastically limiting free agency. 

Disagreeing with the controversial decision to disclaim the union is one thing, but to suggest that the players should have taken whatever deal they could get to save their paychecks -- even the extremely owner-friendly one presented to them last week -- is another thing entirely. Grantham clearly advocates both stances here. This is Bruce Bowen-esque undercutting we are witnessing right now. Watch your ankles, Billy!

The key word in Grantham's comments is "philosophy", and it's easy to see the many places where he likely would have departed from the path Hunter has chosen. Hunter, remember, admitted early on that the possibility of losing part or all of a season was very likely, given how steep the league's demands were. If the players' goal had simply been to negotiate and then accept the best possible deal with the express purpose of not missing any games this season, the last three or four years would have unfolded quite differently. 

The union would have met Stern's demands for a financial overhaul with capitulation, rather than threats of decertification, early in the process. That would likely have meant sacrificing the Basketball Related Income issue, the most important one to hard-line owners, to focus on the system issues they felt were most in need of preservation. Then, the union would have acted with much greater haste in scheduling meetings throughout 2011, looking to chip away at whatever minor victories they might have been able to salvage while publicly preaching that they were operating for the good of the sport. The union would have publicly sided with the league in decrying any individual agents who dissented from the approach or tried to exert influence on the negotiating process. There would have been no months taken off this summer, no bombastic rhetoric about plantation overseers, no need for a federal mediator, and certainly no preemptive legal filings to set the table for later lawsuits.

The final deal produced by that path would have been, without question, a landslide for the owners, an even worse deal than the most recent offer that the players rejected this week. But, no one can dispute that it would have been better than nothing, which is what the players are stuck with right now.

That said, the only way to judge whether Grantham's approach would have been better is to compare the final deal the players agree to, less the salaries lost during the fight, to the hypothetical deal that we've just laid out. If the two sides resume negotiations and are able to save a portion of the 2011-2012 season, there's a good chance that will mean that the league agreed to additional concessions along the way. That could mean Hunter's brass tacks approach won out. If the season is lost entirely, though, there's virtually no argument to be made that Grantham's save-the-paychecks-no-matter-what approach would have produced a worse situation for the players once all those lost salaries are gone for good. The only Hail Mary possibility there: a major victory in court for the players, but that seems awfully improbable.

In sum: it's still too soon to authoritatively second-guess Hunter. But the time for that is coming very quickly, possibly in as few as six weeks. Grantham, though, isn't bothering to wait. He sounds happy to get on the record with his doubts and philosophical differences right now, when things look bleakest. That's a bad sign for Hunter, the players and this process as a whole.
Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

UconnBBFan2:

grifter - I can answer your question:

"Could you imagine how good the owners would look to the fans if they just took what the players proposed?"

The fans would think the owners were idiots if they didn't take this opportunity to save the sport and wrestle back the business they invested in. When most teams were losing money, it makes no sense to accept a deal that would guarentee them losing more for years to come. Aren't you late to "occupy" somewhere in our great land?



I don't need to go "occupy" anywhere, nor do I agree with that rag doll, cess pool of vagabounds movement.  My question was a hypothetical "IF" response to the other hypothetical "IF" question.  It was meant to prove that the same could be said both ways.

I personally think both sides are idiots, to be nice.  Neither side would compromise, instead deciding to take the "My way or the highway" approach.




Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

I hope the owners fire ALL employees and start building the NBA without these clowns acting like they own a team. Get some young blood from college where they just want to play, even if it were for a little bit, at least the NBA would be there, and eventually the players would realize they f' ed up. C'Mon Owners...stick it to these players!  PLEASE, and all people like LEBRON is nothing but bad for the league anyways.



Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Not surprisingly, the deals under Grantham were awful. 
You speak from ignorance. When Hunter took over the union, sports salaries across the board were exploding. However, much like unions in other industries, they drove payroll expense to an unsustainable level. If Hunter had been this concerned about the players of the future back during the last CBA negotiations, he would have seen this coming and not pushed so hard for every last penny and perk. He wasn't concerned with a fair deal back then, but yet now, he complains that the owners aren't being fair. He is going to walk away from this labeled as the worst union head the NBPA has ever seen. Offer the NBA players the same deal that NFL players get and see how they feel. I personally hope that is what they end up with. Then, players will genuinely see what a lack of loyalty looks like from the other side.
And that the only way the players could work is to first except a bad deal and forgo further negotiation?  And do you also understand that the owners have stated publicly they refuse to negotiate any further?
First, it is not a bad deal, just not as good as the one they had, which apparently they feel entitled to now. Second, there comes a point where negotiations have to end. Of course the players want to keep negotiating because they want more concessions, but if the owners feel they have gone as far as they are willing, then what is the point? The best part of Grantham's spiel was the part reminding the players that they are the employees.

 You, sir, are not qualified to speak on this matter, so kindly keep to yourself.
You may not agree with his stance, but I do believe that serving in the exact position on which he is commenting, for a decade, makes him uniquely qualified.




Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Entity - I am with you on one point. The OWNERS said they are not negotiating any further.  Can't blame the players for that one.  If the players really cannot accept the deal, they have no choice but to de-certify. 

I think the sad thing here is that just about everything said negatively about both sides is TRUE.

Stern IS A BULLY.  So even when he offered a decent deal (and from I read, this last offer was definitely decent), it was viewed mistrustfully and not seriously considered.

The players are letting ego get in the way - which is the only reason why Stern being a bully actually matters. 

The owners are greedy.  Asking the players to take 15%-20% less than what they are currently getting (7% is about 15% of 57% - sounds messy, but think about it) is a VERY tough pill to swallow - they had to know that was asking just a bit much, don't you think?

The owners are liars - There are no provisions in the CBA that I have heard of that will increase competitive balance.  Endorsements are where the real money is, so if you reduce the money players get, they will be MORE LIKELY to go play in a big market where they can get a piece of the endorsement pie. 

Billy Hunter's plan was illconceived.  [We need to miss some games so that we can really get to work negotiating].  Well, Billy - I DIDN'T WORK. 


And when they come back, the prices will still be too high.  There will still be too many bad teams and the schedule will still be too long. 

Oh well, it is what it is



Since: Feb 1, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Not surprisingly, the deals under Grantham were awful.  The owners were robbing the players in that era.  Your philosophy is to keep the guys working?  Really, Grantham?  Do you even understand that the owners are locking the players out from working?  And that the only way the players could work is to first except a bad deal and forgo further negotiation?  And do you also understand that the owners have stated publicly they refuse to negotiate any further?  You, sir, are not qualified to speak on this matter, so kindly keep to yourself.



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Could you imagine how good the owners would look to the fans if they just took what the players proposed?

That's the thing, the owners don't have to do anything.  They are the owners, they are in the driver's seat.  If anybody thinks the players will accomplish anything through the court system they have bumped their heads... serious head injuries must be affecting their thought process.  The owners have lawyers too, and if there was ANY CHANCE the players could win an anti trust lawsuit for up to 3 times what the players would have been earning in damages, the owners would have caved a long long time ago.  

So now what do the players do ?  Hummmmmm,,, go broke?  Probably.   Play overseas ?  Maybe.  But aside from Kobe or Lebron or Wade and a couple of others, most will take paycuts that far exceed what they would have accepted in the new CBA.   And oh yeah i almost forgot, it's really nice in Serbia and Russia and China and Croatia these days or wherever else they plan on going.....  think about this for a second guys.  Today's NBA players are going to be forced to accept a HUGE paycut to play in a foreign country, but have no interest in giving in to the owners?  Does that even make any sense at all?   And that's only for half of the current players, because the other half will play NOWHERE.....   there aren't 350 or 400 jobs available overseas combined in those countries.  Most of you don't have a clue about european basketball or basketball overseas, but I do.  They pay well for their standards and much more then we make for a living, but the market overseas is a lot smaller then it is in north america.   They aren't going to let half their players go to temporarily sign NBA players to deals for a lot more money, when it's a fact fans overseas aren't even close to capable of paying what we pay over here to watch a game.  

I have no idea what the players or their union is trying to prove......  they are in a lose-lose situation, their fight doesn't make any sense. 



Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

grifter - I can answer your question:

"Could you imagine how good the owners would look to the fans if they just took what the players proposed?"

The fans would think the owners were idiots if they didn't take this opportunity to save the sport and wrestle back the business they invested in. When most teams were losing money, it makes no sense to accept a deal that would guarentee them losing more for years to come. Aren't you late to "occupy" somewhere in our great land?



Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:20 am
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Can you imagine how good the players would look to the fans if they just took the deal?

You mean, that the public would admire them for being saps?  Or that they'd admire them for taking a good deal?  Or that the public wouldn't care one way or the other whether it was a good deal or a bad one?  And if you mean the third among those, then how much attention do you realistically expect the players to pay?



Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:09 am
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Clarification to my prior post: "the current reps" probably should have read, "the current union/association".  I wasn't referring to, say, team player representatives.  Sorry for any confusion.



Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:05 am
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Maybe a little bit of sour grapes from Grantham; of course he thinks he could have done a better job than the current reps, or possibly wants some players to know he'd be available to help out now (for a fee). 
Still, as the article says, his remarks can't be entirely brushed off.  The courts started to get wise to the decertification sham in the football case, and conceivably they may get even more wise to it in this one.  In connection with that, who negotiates for "the players" once the union no longer exists?  And are they, like the football players' union association, going to contend that there's no labor dispute?  (If there is a labor dispute, of course, I presume the matter would belong before the NLRB, not in the courts.)


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com