Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: October 15, 2011 2:48 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 3:00 am

Mayors write letter urging NBA labor compromise

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Mayors are usually only good for riding in the back of convertibles during parades, promising to lower taxes and lock up sex offenders, and dramatically cutting ribbon with oversized scissors, so it came as a pleasant surprise this week when a group of them decided to nudge their way into the ongoing NBA lockout.

WISHTV.com reports that 14 mayors from NBA cities addressed a joint letter to commissioner David Stern and National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter requesting that the two sides work to salvage a season and to end the lockout as quickly as possible.

The letter can be read here. The following is an excerpt.
Unfortunately, lost in the debate over a new NBA collective bargaining agreement, has been the perspective of those very residents and the negative impact a cancelled season might have on them, our cities and our local economies.

We know the issues being discussed between NBA owners and players are complex and need to be addressed to ensure the long-term wellbeing of the league. We are not interested in taking a side. The United States Conference of Mayors has always maintained impartiality in major leagues sports negotiations.

Rather, we respectfully ask that you consider the consequences to our cities should the lockout continue. We ask that you work quickly to find a way to compromise so that we might salvage the upcoming NBA season. 
As WISHTV.com notes, the letter is written without taking a side in the dispute. The goal is compromise for both sides, not victory for one or the other. Among the undersigned include Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an All-Star guard for the Phoenix Suns in the 1990s, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, an All-Star guard for the Pistons in the 1960s and 1970s.

The big question here is whether this letter will influence the negotiations. The answer is no, not at all, but at least they tried.

On Monday, Stern announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of the league's regular season. Previously, he cancelled the entire preseason schedule and postponed the start of training camp. Stern said Thursday that if a deal cannot be reached by Tuesday, Oct. 10, that the league's annual Christmas Day games could be in jeopardy.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 12:00 am

EOB Roundtable: Lockout Winners and Losers

By Matt Moore

Matt Moore:So who, individually is winning and losing the lockout? My brief list. 
Winners: David West, Greg Oden (rehab). Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash (age). Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade (image). 
Losers: Rookies (obv.). DeAndre Jordan ($$$$$). 
Royce Young: Derek Fisher. I think he's increased his image as the statesman of the NBA. I don't know how good a job he's really doing, but he always comes across as measured, professional and calm. The guy's in the twilight of his NBA career, but his performance as president of the union is going to net him a pretty sweet gig after he retires, I think. Front office exec? Coach? The next Billy Hunter? I could see basically anything for Fisher. 

Ben Golliver: I hate to say it but I think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are big winners here. No one entered the offseason with more motivation to bring their A-game to the 2011-2012 season after that jenga collapse in the Finals. As the lockout dragged on, the usual motivating factors for the average player disappeared. Watching these guys workout, play in exhibition games, etc. it's clear they will be ready to go from day one. They will blitz some people hard out of the gate and should stack up enough victories early to get the rest they wanted before last year's playoffs. Same thing, to a lesser extent, goes for Kevin Durant, who has just been a maniac.

Of the younger guys, I like what John Wall and Brandon Jennings did to increase their exposure. Whether that counts for anything long-term is anyone's guess. Both elevated their profile for sure. I still like what Deron Williams and Ty Lawson did, accepting the challenge of a different lifestyle and continuing to play in competitive leagues. Williams took a significantly bigger risk, but as long as he comes home without injury he will be a winner in my eyes. Zigging when everyone zags deserves some kudos. Props to Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas and the other rookies that went back to school. We get on people for jumping too early but never give the round of applause for guys who get back on the diploma track.

They are bigger picture winners.

Eddy Curry is the biggest loser of the lockout and, really, of life. Scratching from exhibition games is really the bottom of the barrel. Same thing goes for Michael Beasley and Matt Barnes and their idiotic antics. Nobody needs any of that. Beasley caught a break when Rick Adelman got hired. He is about to get a great coach. Let's see if he embraces or squelches this opportunity. Take a guess at which is more likely. 
Matt Moore: I'd argue Deron's a loser. He made the money but admitted it's been hard on the family and they're not winning and the attendance is terrible. As the biggest star to go he was under pressure to convert that opportunity into success. Making the money, which is always dicey overseas, doesn't make up for the other problems and the lack of impact. 

Ben Golliver: If it was that bad he would have left. He's said its brought his family closer together and has been a one-in-a-lifetime experience. I think we can take him at his word about that.

Royce Young:I definitely agree with that, Matt. Deron messed up, in my mind. The Besiktas deal really didn't turn out to be all that lucrative and instead of pimping his profile here in the charity pro-am games, he's toiling away in Turkey in front of half empty arenas. What's so great about that?  If it was just intended to be a family vacation, good for him, but I don't know why you can't just go to Turkey. Why sign to play for Besiktas? He got less than other superstars because he signed so early and I don't think he's really gained a whole lot out of it otherwise. 

Matt Moore: Also, if we're talking bigger picture winners, no player is a winner because they lost a bazillion dollars between negotiations and lost paychecks.

Ben Golliver: Name one player who made more money playing basketball during the lockout than Deron Williams.

Royce Young: I don't think that's the point though. He didn't make all that much in relative terms, plus hasn't benefitted as much as some other players that stayed here. Williams is a star player. And he's the only star that signed overseas. Don't you think that's a little weird? 

Ben Golliver: Not at all. He was in a unique situation with his contract extension coming up, with an open mind, a desire to see the world and make money, and a team that would give him a max contract even if he broke both his legs because they already mortgaged the franchise for him. Why single someone out for criticism because he made a unique choice that will prove to be in his best interests as long as he doesn't get hurt (and could still be in his best interests even if he does)? This was a great way to get back in shape after an injury, it took guts, he's getting rewarded and he is living life on his own terms, not those of the NBA owners. He's not begging fans to let him play on Twitter, he proactively sought a deal that will pay him more than any other player during the down time and will be ready to go when the NBA is back. It wasn't a decision many stars could make but there were good reasons behind it and he showed courage. That makes him a winner to me. 
Posted on: October 14, 2011 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 2:22 am

NBPA's Derek Fisher rips McGee for 'fold' comment

Posted by Ben Golliver

On Friday, the National Basketball Players Association held a regional meeting in Los Angeles to discuss the ongoing labor negotiations with the NBA. As noted earlier, Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee exited the meeting before it was over and admitted to reporters that "some guys are in there saying they're ready to fold." McGee immediately denied making that comment on Twitter, but the damage was done, as audio of his comments quickly surfaced.

In a press conference following the meeting, NBPA president Derek Fisher had some harsh words for McGee. 

"Look, let me say this," Fisher said. "The person who spent the least amount of time in the room can't make that statement. He's in no position to make that statement on behalf of the group."

Fisher continued: "As I said earlier, it's obviously fair in negotiations of this magnitude that we're going to have guys with differing opinions because we have guys that are in different positions. We have guys who are free agents this summer that are extremely excited about trying to get a deal done because for the first time they really have an opportunity to get paid by a team that really wants their services. We have guys who are veteran guys who know they only have two or three or four more years left to play, and they want to get back on the court. We have guys who just got drafted who still haven't had a chance to put on their uniform and play for the team they got drafted by."

Rather than focusing on differing opinions, Fisher argued, the focus should be on the union's ability to exit its meetings with a consensus. 

"Within all those different prospects and positions, you're going to have differing opinions and thoughts about what should be going on," Fisher said. "But at the end of the day, that's my job, Billy's job, Maurice's job, our player reps and our guys to weigh the statements made by the guys who spend the least amount of time in the room versus the guys' statements who spend the most amount of time in the room. At the end of the day, we come out with a decision that's best for a majority of our guys."

At that point, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter interjected and attempted to deflect some of the potential criticism.

"It was a shame [McGee] left so soon," Hunter said. "As it turned out, the pacifists in the room happened to be me and Derek. These guys behind us happen to be extremely strident. They thought we were starting to weaken."

Here's video of NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter reacting to a question about JaVale McGee saying that some NBA players are "ready to fold."

Posted on: October 14, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 7:42 pm

JaVale McGee: Some NBA players 'ready to fold'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The National Basketball Players Association held a regional meeting in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon to discuss the state of the ongoing labor negotiations with the NBA. The early word was not exactly on message.

SI.com reports that Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee left the media early to attend another engagement, noting: "There's definitely some guys in there saying that they're ready to fold, but the majority are willing to stand strong."

On Thursday, Fisher wrote on Twitter that the meeting was "important" and noted that "all players including rookies [were] welcome."

Despite that plea, SlamOnline.com reported that McGee estimated that the number of attendees was "about 25 to 30," fewer than the number who attended the NBPA's most recent regional meeting, held in Las Vegas back in September.  

"Everybody knows we've got to get more people to come to the meetings," McGee said, according to SI.com.

Shortly after multiple sources independently reported McGee's comments, he posted the following message on Twitter: "I never said anyone is ready to fold! Media always wanna turn it!"

Within an hour, the Los Angeles Times posted audio of McGee's comments, confirming that he did make the statement.

The NBPA's meeting is taking place one day after NBA commissioner David Stern began a media blitz that included an attack on NBPA executive director Billy Hunter, who he said has been inaccurately representing the NBA's offer to rank-and-file players.

Check back later for further updates from the NBPA's labor meeting in Los Angeles.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 2:57 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Takes the cake

By Matt Moore

In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, we ask Berger if the mediator will help at all, if Stern's Christmas threat is significant, and what his favorite lockout story has been. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. Federal mediator to save the day! Hurray! .... Yeah, I'm not buying it. What's the best and worst case scenario from the meeting with the FedMed Monday?

KB: Well, each side will be interviewed separately by the mediator on Monday, and then he'll supervise a bargaining session Tuesday. The only prediction I'm comfortable making is that Mr. Cohen will not be pleased that Stern placed such unrealistic expectations on coming out of Tuesday's session with a deal. After two years of stalemate, a DEAL after ONE session with a mediator? Ridiculous. Beyond that, best-case scenario is that Cohen can get each side to see the importance of compromise, considering what's at stake. Worst case is, both sides completely ignore the mediator and continue starting blankly across the table at each other.

2. Stern said on radio Wednesday that if an agreement isn't in place by Tuesday, we could lose the Christmas games with the entire season in jeopardy. It's October 14 and he's talking about games on December 25 through April. So... who, exactly told Stern the best plan was to rush out holding a grenade without the pin and say "DRAW!?"

KB: Christmas, Schmistmas. This is part bargaining tactic, and part reality -- the more time that goes by, the more money each side loses, and thus, the harder is becomes to make a deal. But to place that much importance on Tuesday is borderline irresponsible. The reason the league can't participate in bargaining under the mediator's supervision the rest of next week? Because of the all-important owners' meetings Wednesday and Thursday in New York -- where the all-important revenue-shring plan, TWO YEARS in the making, will be discussed. Um, without a collective bargaining agreement, you know how much revenue there will be to share? None.

3. The systemic issues are the problem, allegedly, so much so that they haven't talked about the BRI. If they get past the systemic issues are they going to hit a roadblock with both sides thinking they compromised too much systemically to go any further on BRI?

KB: Stern obviously is trying to corner the players on a 50-50 split, which I imagine the players would only accept if the $600 million or so expense in reductions are put back in the pot before dividing it up. And clearly, that's not going to happen. The players have already moved more than $1 billion, the difference between 57 percent and 53 percent. The questions are: 1) how much more can they move and sell the deal to the membership; 2) would the owners take a 52-48 split in favor of the players if they get the most important system changes and concede on the rest; and 3) at what point does each side lose so much money that there's no BRI split that either one would agree to?

4. OK, who the hell brought up 50/50 first? Can someone please settle this?

KB: There are clearly defined, very different versions of how this went down. Classic he said, he said. Personally, I choose to believe that I brought it up first, with my cake.

5. Favorite lockout stakeout memory of 2011? I know you have one.

KB: Oh, there are so many. Getting dating advice from a Turkish limo driver about 12 years after it would've been useful is right up there. So is the 50-50 cake, and sidewalk food delivery. But the sissy fight between two camera/sound men on Monday night had to take the, um, cake.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:15 pm

David Stern blames agents, Hunter for media blitz

Posted by Ben Golliverdavid-stern

After weeks of "no comments" or limited remarks following unsuccessful labor negotiation meetings, NBA commissioner David Stern has launched an all-out media offensive over the last 24 hours, appearing on numerous radio shows and NBA TV to give his side of the story.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the key quotes from Thursday, in which Stern offers up an important new deadline, questions whether the NBA will be able to play on Christmas and lays out ownership's position on damn everything.

There was one obvious question left unasked: Why is Stern talking now?

The Dan Patrick Show asked that question in a Friday morning interview. Stern wasted no time blaming NBA agents and National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter for his own media blitz. 

"We decided it was time to do it because of the circumstances that we find ourselves in," Stern said. "The union has been buffeted by the agents, who literally don't want there to be a union. Why? As [agent] Arn Tellem has said, it's bad for the superstars that he represents. And, oh by the way, the union regulates agents and what they can charge. So of course the agents don't want a union. That causes [NBPA president] Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter to send out letters to the membership, denouncing the agents for trying to change the deal. And it causes them to become more strident, it causes them to say things that are not exactly the way things went down. We have to move out there to correct the record."

Stern didn't bother obscuring the underlying motive of his public campaign: influencing player sentiment.

"I think the players, if the rank-and-file truly understood the dynamic of the negotiations, they would have a completely different picture," Stern said. "And they would say, 'Let's get back to work.'"

The commissioner stopped short of calling Hunter a liar but did say he was responsible for perpetuating what Stern feels is an "inaccurate" representation of the negotiations and the proposals made by the league's owners.

"I think it's fair to say that [Hunter's] depiction of our motives, our offers, the state of the negotiations is inaccurate."
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:46 pm

Wolves PF discusses NBA Lockout on Twitter

By Matt Moore

If you'd asked me yesterday afternoon about NBA players and their use of Twitter during the lockout, I would have said two things. One, they are almost entirely unapproachable, preferring to answer only elements of positive support or comments from other players. And two, their knowledge of how to use Twitter to express their views about the lockout have been woefully inadequate. Most notably, the #standunited and #letusplay hashtags were terribly conceived. You know what happens if you tell the public to ask the owners to let them play without any context as to the issue or your real position? You look stupid. And incapable of harnessing social media. And did I mention stupid? 

If you're the union and want to use Twitter correctly, you can hold the line on the players' side of negotiations  while actually being honest with fans. Sure, a lot of casual fans aren't aware of the nuances of the lockout. But those same individuals are unlikely to be swayed by a hashtag. There's more information than ever available for interested fans to learn about BRI, revenue sharing, all of it. Whether they agree with you or not, it's better to level with them and seem reasonable than to simply blindly shout at the owners and beseech the fans to support the players without understanding their side of the dispute. Shouting hasn't gotten us anywhere in the lockout, on either side. 

Which is why Anthony Tolliver's appearance on Twitter Thursday night was such a surprise. I found Tolliver taking questions from fans with actual substance regarding the lockout. Our brief exchange, while he also discussed the dispute with other fans was both mature and insightful. This from a player who worked his way up from the D-League into a reserve role with the Wolves last season. Tolliver is at once the kind of player who needs the lockout over most based on his salary and the kind of player that the lockout is being waged over, the non-stars who feel they need long-term stability.

It began with Tolliver commenting "If the owners want competative balance lets have no cap! #letsjustplaybasketball." I responded to another comment from him regarding how baseball has competitive balance (on the surface, considering the small market teams that regularly appear in the World Series; timely given the Championship Series of St. Louis-Milwaukee), asking about how the Yankees still enjoy a distinct advantage due to their payroll. It was then that Tolliver began to engage in an actual dialogue, the kind the union should have been having its players participate in with fans or media or whoever they'd like instead of participating in the Twitter version of holding a sign while yelling into a megaphone. What follows are pieces of that conversation. Tweets have been edited to make reading it easier. It's hard to hold a conversation in 140 characters at a time.

Tolliver: Smart management is what creates competitive balance more than anything....not caps. 

Tolliver: The Yanks have had success but what im saying is that the owners think they can "fix" the balance with a cap.

Moore: Well, that's what they're saying. I've gotten to where I don't believe they care about the balance at all. Just the profit. 

Tolliver: I agree...lol. At the end of the day if they all can line their pockets with more cash they wont care about balance.

Moore: Do you guys care about competitive balance or is it one where you think it will just work itself out, i.e. survival of fittest? 

Tolliver: I played on the worst team in the league and im not asking for help! we have enough talent to improve and compete. 

Moore: So you think with... different approaches by management (trying to keep you out of trouble) the Wolves can compete with LA?

Tolliver: It is tougher for small market teams but it always will be

Moore: Right, but the ability to abuse the lux tax by large markets helps. There's a balance to be struck there, right? 

Tolliver: With great draft choices and strategic trades i believe that ANY team can be very competitive. 

Moore: (I) (d)on't mind shortening the gap with (revenue) sharing or some systemic change. (I) mind owners bullying you and squabbling over who offered 50/50 first.

Tolliver: Oh and the revenue sharing for the NBA is by far the lowest of all professional sports so yeah...that needs to increase fa sho.

Moore:  If you're keeping guaranteed contracts (which you should), is shortening them a reasonable compromise? Just how much is (the question)?

Tolliver: I think shortening them is fair...and even compromising on other issues is fair as long as its compromising on both ends.

Tolliver: I believe there needs to be some changes as well. i just want a fair deal so i can play the game that i love.

Moore: Problem is that when you guys say you want to play, fans get insulted because you want to play for what you feel is a fair deal. You guys would do better if you didn't say you just wanted to play, but wanted to play when you're not bullied. Most of the smart people know the owners have driven the lockout, but the "we just want to play" approach is patronizing.

Tolliver: Why is that patronizing? We all just want to play ball BUT with a fair deal. I guess its all relative.

Moore: We live in a smarter world with messaging. So saying "just want to play" when there are caveats seems disingenuous, even if not.

Tolliver: Thats way too much to say lol...I'll stick with I JUST WANT TO PLAY. LOL.

Moore: Hey, that's easier. I'm just telling you the reactions the media gets from fans, a lot of whom have supported the union.

Tolliver: I gotcha...when players say that they dont want to offend the fans. we know the fans MAKE us who we are.. #fanappreciation

Moore: Do you think the anger and resentment from the players side at the owners antics is a good thing or a bad thing?

Tolliver: I'm not sure if the emotions the players are showing hurt or help our cause..all i know is guys LOVE this game and want to play.

Moore: Amar'e, Blake, Kobe, Steve seem pretty reasonable, but some of your guys are downright pissed. Hurt or help?

Tolliver: Some guys dont (know) all the details of whats going on..all they (know) is that the owners are locking us out & that makes them mad.

Moore: How much of it do you follow?

Tolliver: I follow every word, every article, every news story...this is my livelyhood for hopefully the next 10 years!

Moore: Has the lockout been one of the few instances where the players don't feel like the media is out to get them?

Tolliver: Media is ALWAYS out to get us! They are EVIL!!! LOL

Moore: You realize now I have to write a post tomorrow that says "WOLVES PF BELIEVES IN OCCULT" right? It's in my contract. #notreally

Tolliver: LOL aight...i dont want u to lose ur job. LOL. 

Tolliver also took questions and comments from a number of fans and writers on Twitter, giving what at least appeared to be honest opinions about the state of negotiations.

His insight is a nice peek beneath the rhetoric. Tolliver acknowledges the need for change and compromise, while holding to his colleagues' stances on various issues including competitive balance. He doesn't dodge questions about players' reactions to the dispute, but also doesn't try and speak for them or against him. It's this kind of reasonable, honest dialogue that should be the backbone of the negotiations, not the players' discussions with fans and media on Twitter. But at least it shows us that the middle class of NBA players, who have become the dividing line in the negotiations headed intow next week's mediation session, have a working knowledge of the dispute, the issues involved, and a recognition of how the lockout is hurting the fans. They're willing to listen. If only both sides guiding the dispute would. 

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:55 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:03 am

Billy Hunter: Labor deal could get done in hours?

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter

On Thursday, NBA commissioner David Stern declared that a labor deal with the National Basketball Players Association must be reached by next Tuesday, when the two sides will convene with a federal mediator, or a significant portion of the NBA season, including the league's Christmas Day games, would be put at risk. For those of us who have watched the league's labor negotiations plod along with little progress in the formal offers from the two sides, a drop-dead date of Tuesday with no meetings scheduled prior to that date sounds like a very, very bad thing.

Responding to Stern's comments, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter told Yahoo Sports that a lack of time really isn't the key issue. In fact, Hunter said that the framework of a new agreement could be arranged lickety-split, assuming the two sides could actually agree on the major issues that separate their proposals.
“It’s not an issue of time. It’s an issue of will. If you are in a room and you want to make a deal and there are three major issues that are holding you up, if you can come to a compromise on those three areas than you have a makings of a deal. It’s not a nature of time. We can go in and do a deal if they want to go in and do a deal. We can do a deal in an hour, two hours if we can agree to the major terms. And after that you got to work on everything else. Everything else will fall in place.”
That sounds awful promising, at least until Hunter goes on to describe his belief that the owners are taking an "extreme position" and accuses them of failing to negotiate in good faith.

 “David Stern told me three years ago – and I keep reiterating that because people keep pulling up their cup on it – that they were going to lock out [the players] in order to get what it was they wanted. And what he’s done is done that. [Stern] said he was going to lock out [the players] and his owners were prepared to lock out to get what they wanted. It’s driven pretty much by the small-market teams... He’s stated an extreme position from the get go and he’s negotiated that way. So here we are.

“We’ve been negotiating for almost three years, and here we are at the 12th hour when all of the sudden they make a slight move. But then on top of that, they then decide that they want a hard cap. So then when you get close to the economics of the number, then they get close to the system. And they know that the system is very important. If we give on the economics, we are not going to give on the system. And so all of the sudden you reach a possible agreement on the economics and now the system becomes a problem. So it’s like a moving target."

Whether Hunter meant to or not, he presents the current state of negotiations as the exact scenario where a mediator would be most helpful. Hunter's account clearly states that the two sides know where each other stand. His account clearly states that his side is willing to give but not totally concede. His account acknowledges some movement by the opposing party and the need for more. And, more than anything, it confirms that recent talks haven't been particularly fruitful because of miscommunication, intentional or otherwise.

A neutral third-party could very well help organize the conversation, clarify the agenda items, and cut through the unnecessary, emotional, personal or petty arguments that might arise during a negotiation that involves billions of dollars, massive egos and competing agendas. If what Hunter says is true, that the 2011-2012 NBA season could be saved in a mere matter of hours if things break right, then Tuesday's mediation session truly is a promising step. If the problem here is the quality of the conversation rather than the quantity of the conversation, it would be a fool's errand to repeat this negotiation's past mistakes without trying to shake up the process.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com