When word started flooding out of the gutters last week that NBA agents were upset enough with the leadership of union head Billy Hunter during the lockout to consider enacting an "involuntary decertification" by having 30 percent of the union sign a petition to do so, the reaction was swift. It looked like a power play to the media, it looked like a power play to the fans, and it looked like an attempted coup to the players. Derek Fisher spoke of it in a letter union membership last week. Now the agents have responded, and in their opinion, the truth is not out there, so to speak.
Sports Illustrated spoke with one of the alleged rebel leaders, Mark Bartelstein who says that the discussions are totally off-base.
On whether working together with the union is still possible, or if there are now separate tracks:via Mark Bartelstein clears up top agents' view of NBA union - Sam Amick - SI.com.
"My goal has never been to have two separate tracks. My goal from Day 1 was to be unison with the union. We're all in this together. We all have the same goal, which is coming up with what's best for the players and what's best for the game. I reach out to Billy all the time. I haven't talked to him in two days. I want to strategize with Billy. I've been doing this for 25 years. I feel like I have a really good feel for the business, and I want to work with him to come to a resolution. I'm hoping to talk to Billy [on Monday] maybe."
On reports (SI.com included) of the agent power play:
"The way this thing reads, it's like there's all this plotting going on. That's just not true. The idea has never been to blow up the union. This idea that there's a secret agents to blow the union up is completely wrong. The idea that there's this diabolical plan going on is wrong."
Now, to a certain degree, this seems like "Do not run, we are your friends" kind of talk. If the agents are realy in support and in unison with Hunter and union leadership, it wouldn't talk to reporters about the negotiations and would keep quietly in the background. That's where fans want the agents. In the background. They have a responsibility to the players to look out for their interests (something else Bartelstein discusses in the post), but it's important that they don't do it in a way that suggests they're creating disharmony. Bartelstein's claim is that they haven't done that, but the media that's reported on it got it from somewhere. They didn't just invent this bogeyman, the information was presented to multiple sources.
The media chases a good story, but there's got to be some responsibility on the agents' part. Bartelstein's doing that by clearing the air and supporting the union. And that's pivotal, because the more the union fractures, the longer the lockout will go on, and the longer the lockout goes on, the worse the deal will be for the players, their agents, and the fans.