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Tag:2011 NBA lockout
Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: November 22, 2011 11:01 am
 

NBPA withholding licensing fees to pay for Boies

By Matt Moore 

Everyone gets paid. Except the arena workers, the cops who need overtime, the parking lot guys, the local shops and restaurants, and the players. But the lawyers? They sure as heckfire get paid. 

ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports that the NBPA is withholding licensing fees from the players to pay for David Boies and his high-profile firm to represent them against the owners. McMenamin tabs Boies' fee at $1,220 per hour, which is now being paid for by profits the players would otherwise collectively see from jersey/trading card/ video game sales.  Other estimates on Boies have him at $960 per hour, which, you know, is so much better. Boies publicly commented in 2007 to the Wall Street Journal  that charging over the $1,000 mark was probably a bit much. 
"Frankly, it's a little hard to think about anyone who doesn't save lives being worth this much money," says David Boies, one of the nation's best-known trial lawyers, at the Armonk, N.Y., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.
via Lawyers Gear Up Grand New Fees - WSJ.com.

Of course this doesn't reflect market changes, inflation or the fact that his current client is high profile enough to warrant a higher rate. Boies' firm is on record from earlier this year saying they still charge the $960, but that may be dependent upon how the case wraps up:
David Boies, chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner and a prominent trial lawyer, charges $960 an hour, a spokeswoman for the firm said. But just a third of his time is devoted to matters that are billed hourly. More often his deals with clients involve alternatives such as pegging fees to his success, she said.
via Top Lawyers Push Rates Above $1,000 an Hour - WSJ.com.

Either way, while the players are losing paychecks every day while Boies and the league argue over who should call one another first -- no, we're serious, that's what they're arguing about --  and that's after the union decided to disclaim interest and dissolve the union... without holding a full vote of membership. 

At some point the players have to be wondering about what direction all this is going, and if the efforts to try and save them some money are going to wind up costing them more than they're saving.

Everyone gets paid.

Well, except for the people laid off, the concession vendors and the television production crew support.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 9:02 am
 

Coaches Association Director pleads for season

The following was provided to media outlets including CBSSports.com on Sunday, November 20th by the Executive Director of the NBA Coaches Association.



An Urgent Call to the NBA, the NBPA and its Players for a Truce and Return to Talks, from a Veteran of the Business of Professional Basketball

By Michael H. Goldberg, Executive Director NBA Coaches Association

“Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got ‘til it's gone…” Joni Mitchell (Big Yellow Taxi)

I have been involved in the sport of professional basketball for over 35 years.  In 1973, I was appointed General Counsel to the American Basketball Association, a great league but a financial disaster.  In 1978, shortly after four of the ABA’s teams staggered into the safe harbor of the NBA (then itself a league with financial issues), I began my assignment as Executive Director of the NBA Coaches Association (all Head and Assistant Coaches plus alumni) and have served in this capacity ever since.

I’m urging this call for an immediate return to discussions by the parties solely as a veteran of the business of the sport and not as a representative or spokesman of the NBA Coaches or any other constituency.  As someone who has “seen it all” in the NBA (and other professional sports), I urge the principals involved in the current labor dispute to immediately back away from the precipice, get back to the bargaining table, and redouble their efforts to resolve the current conflict and get a deal done without delay.

The upcoming NBA season must be saved.  To do otherwise will cause a self-inflicted economic blow to an enterprise that over the years through the hard work of players, team owners and the League Office has become a great global brand, but, like every business operating in today’s fragile economic landscape, one that is more susceptible to “decline and fall.”

We are currently in a global economic crisis such as has not been seen in any of our lifetimes.  Only individuals wearing three-inch thick rose-colored glasses can believe that sports, and NBA basketball in particular, are and will in the future be immune from these forces.  Great companies with names that our parents looked upon as having the safety and sustainability of Fort Knox have only survived thanks to bankruptcy or government bailout, while many others have disappeared altogether.  Tens of thousands of employees working for these “untouchable” companies for years thought they were set for life, only to find themselves out of work and scrambling to figure out Plan B.

In this new and dangerous economic environment there are no guarantees that what worked in the past can work now.  We all need to concede that the NBA does not operate in a financial bulletproof bubble.  After months of discussion, it has become apparent that a solution to the current situation means sacrifice and change.  The parties have moved in that direction.  Now is not the time to step back and harden positions.  Litigation and the “courts” are not the answer – “been there and done that.”  Let the parties have the courage to make a deal, even if it requires taking some risks and accepting the unpalatable for the short term, so as to ensure that going forward there will be a viable and robust NBA business, one that is able to withstand the current financial environment and further prosper.

Partial or lost seasons are a huge mistake and a blow to any sport that requires years of painful business rebuilding to get back on track.  We all know this and know that damage has already taken place.  The recent lost NHL season is an example whereby the end result was a damaged sport and fallout that fractured its union and cost hundreds of millions of dollars lost by the league, its players and its teams, to say nothing of the financial pain suffered by non-player (league and team) employees, suppliers and allied businesses.   Similar results have affected every sport that has shut down due to labor/management issues.

There is no time to waste.  History has proven that all sports labor conflicts are ultimately solved.  No doubt all sides are concerned about their financial well-being and rightly so.  But everyone involved must now think beyond their own interests, check out the daily financial headlines, and work towards a negotiated solution now. Short of this all parties will risk killing the goose that lays so many golden eggs for so many connected with it.  Let’s not commit a “Flagrant 2” to a business that can ill afford it.
Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 1:45 pm
 

Paul Pierce says the next step is 'on the owners'

By Matt Moore 

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Paul Pierce says that the next step in the process is on the owners, despite the players having removed the possibility of collective bargaining by dissolving their union: 
Q: Do the players or owners have to take the next step to renew labor talks?

Pierce: “I think the owners have to take the step. We have taken a lot of steps. I think we have taken as many steps as we can take, which is why we are at where we are at. We feel like we’ve taken the most steps. That’s why we are going to court now.”
via Paul Pierce: Players needed to make stand - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

It's interesting because while the league said, through David Stern, that "collective bargaining is over," the players were the ones who declined to offer a counter-proposal to the owners and instead disclaimed interest, dissolving the union. The last proposal on the table was the league's, the 50/50 split the players rejected. So to say it's on the owners is a bit strange. 

But on the flip side, the players may consider their decision to file suit a response in and of itself. Basically "we don't want your deal, here's our counter-proposal, you guys deal with a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit, how about them apples?" So if the league wants a response, that's the response. Unfortunately, it's going to take the league making its first real step back from the full-court press they've applied for five months for them to offer another proposal, or even a bargaining session. 

So, yeah, things are going great, you guys!
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 4:38 pm
 

Time for one-on-one negotiating, Wes vs. Jerry



By Matt Moore
 

Billy Hunter has had his turn at the wheel, and drove the players off a cliff. David Stern put the owners into the high gear they wanted and now they're wedged on a fire hydrant. When they say "the collective bargaining process has broken down," what the mean is "we broke collective bargaining." 

It's time for someone else to take over.

Clearly Stern has lost the ability to keep his extremist elements in check. Michael Jordan, who helped draft Sean May and who decided a worthy investment was professional basketball in Charlotte after it had been burned? Dan Gilbert, the comic sans wiz who signed off on bringing superstar talent next to LeBron like Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, and Mo Williams?  Robert Sarver, who if you go out for dinner with you have to make sure he doesn't sell your entree for cash an a meal to be chosen later? These are the guys running the show? Stern's legacy will be dicatated by how this ends; it's already been impacted by how far it's come.

Hunter barely had a consensus. After months of players asking about decertification and why they weren't pursuing it sooner, he elects to disclaim interest at a meeting with three player reps missing entirely, most of the reps woefully unaware of what the deal meant, without the support of most of the agents, and without even allowing for the possibility of a vote. In short, union leadership lost sight of how to connect with and communicate issues to the players. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported this week that the union denied player reps a hard copy of the owners' proposal two weeks ago. They need someone who the players can trust. 

So forget Paul Allen sitting in with stone-faced breathing, forget Peter Holt trying to play the hardliner he's not really, and forget Dan Gilbert and the gut he wants them to trust. Forget Derek Fisher who really has only been saddled with an impossible game to win, forget "Money Mase" Roger Mason and his accidental tweets, forget Kevin Garnett and his spittle. Let's get some guys in that represent both factions to get a deal in place.

On a podcast with Bill Simmons, Ric Bucher and Stein were wondering about who could take over that would truly represent either side. Bucher briefly suggested Jerry Colangelo. And in short, that's genius.

Colangelo has owned the Suns, the Diamondbacks, the Mercury, and the Rattlers of the AFL. His tenures weren't always great and were sometimes disastrous, but he also has built teams with success, worked with superstars, and has been in the league forever. He's current head of USA Basketball. He's able to put the power of the game first while also representing ownership. He has the players' respect and can communicate with them, while also working with the lunatics running the NBA asylum currently. 

You want an endorsement? How about the President of the United States, told Colangelo (via the Arizona Republic):
"He looked over to me, held out his hand and said, 'Jerry, you've got to help solve this lockout. We've got to get hoops going again.'

"I told him, 'I'm as close as a telephone.' "
via President Barack Obama wants his basketball

But who's he going to negotiate with? Who can possibly represent the players, given that no one player has the background or political strength to do it? Shane Battier certainly has the mind, but not the support. Kevin Garnett has the support but if they have the idea to send him into a bargaining room as lead negotiatior someone needs to tranq him or we're not having basketball this decade. So who on earth could do it?

We need to go Worldwide. 

William Wesley, power broker to the stars. Firmly in LeBron's camp? Sure. But he's also in with Rip Hamilton, Ron Artest, well, ok, really nearly every player in the league. He's about brand expansion and the power of the athlete. He brings with him clout from connections with the shoe companies, a history with Michael Jordan, and a savvy about himself that few possess. Wesley doesn't have to be an economist or an expert in labor relations, he's got Kessler the pit bull and the now-defunct union's economist to help. All he needs to do is weild power and leverage. He has the clout that Hunter does not. 

The agents will, of course, go berserk on this idea. But it's the players that matter, and the majority of those players have a positive regard for Wes. They will be represented, they will be informed, they will have a voice they believe in. 

Maybe those two can find a way around the road blocks that are holding up the season. Hunter and Stern can keep lobbing back ultimatums, insults, and law suits while Colangelo and Wesley try and find a way out of this mess. One thing's for sure. 

They can't do any worse. 


Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Andreychuk: NBA players should cave

By Matt Moore 

Always good to have the support and solidarity of your peers. 

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Dave Andreychuk, former NHL player and current Tampa Bay Lightning executive about the NHL lockout that busted an entire season with the owners getting the same kind of reset the NBA owners are now aiming for. Andreychuk says that standing up for your profession just isn't worth it. Because you'll lose anyway. 
"If players think its better to sit out the season, let me tell you, its not. Its just not," Andreychuk says. "In the end, it will be worse."

"As the pressure built — after a month, two months, three months — it started to sink in," recalls Andreychuk, now a team executive with the Lightning. "Guys were saying to themselves, Im 25 years old and hockey is how I make my living. We need to get a deal done. "

"The deal got worse by us sitting out," Andreychuk admits. "At the end, we were so willing to sign, we had to agree to what the owners wanted. We gave back a tremendous amount just to get a deal done so we could go back to work."
via NBA Lockout: Former NHL player Dave Andreychuk tells current NBA players: Sitting out the season will only make it worse - OrlandoSentinel.com.

Pretty uncool statements from one former player to another. But his point that the players are going to lose anyway, that's the reason so many people were urging the players to at least return the offer with modifications instead of disclaiming interest or decertifying. The players have put themselves in a position where if they don't win a court decision, several of them consecutively, actually, or if the threat thereof does not spook the owners, they'll lose everything. They'll have their collective bargaining heads caved in when they recertify to approve the deal.

But still, you'd think that a player that has been down that road that has fought that battle would at least publicly support another professional athlete. Maybe  Maybe he and Michael Jordan can go bowling and talk about what it's like to bail on your former colleagues. 

It's not that Andreychuk's wrong. He's not wrong. He's right. He just shouldn't say it. Then again, apparently no one else is talking straight to the players about what their situation is. 

(HT: SI.com
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:08 pm
 

After disclaiming, players on sticky territory

By Matt Moore 

The NBPA is dead. Long live the NBPA. But now that the union has disclaimed interest and decided to pursue litigation independently as players and not a union, what does that actually mean? We spoke with labor relations and litigation expert Steve Luckner of Coughlin Duffy to try and make sense of all this dissolving nonsense. 

What did the NBPA need to do to dissolve the union by disclaiming interest versus decertifying? 

In short, Luckner says, say so.  "The primary benefit is speed," Luckner says, "When you have a decertification the players have to vote and it takes place before the NLRB it's a time thing. By disclaiming, they just need to get the player reps to vote to do so, then notify the league." The remnants of the NBPA will also have to file with the Department of Labor and the IRS, but those elements do not have to be completed prior to gaining status as having disclaimed. They said they were disclaiming interest, and there they have. 

Avoiding the 45-day waiting period in-between now and an NLRB rulling which would have been necessary for the players under decertification allows them to pursue litigation faster, which is their primary objective. A fast resolution through the courts or the bargaining table is key for this now-non-collective that doesn't have unlimited funds to survive with the loss of paychecks.

What are the impacts of disclaiming interest?

We touched on the litigation aspect in detail on Tuesday. But Luckner adds that there are some tertiary elements of the dissolution. The organization formerly known as the NBPA no longer has the abilty to regulate agents, and it cannot file grievances on behalf of players.  The assumption with disclaiming is that you intend to do so for as long as you want, but the common thought is that once the lockout ends, the union will reform for precisely these functions. If they were not to do so, they would be unable to file such grievances as their case on behalf of Latrell Sprewell, Ron Artest, or Gilbert Arenas. That's not a power the players want to lose, most likely. 

SI.com notes that the agents angle is interesting because player poaching could become an issue in this new wild, wild west the players find themselves in. There's no governing body ruling over player or agent matters, and as such, anything goes. 

What's the "sham" argument?

 So the NBPA has decertified, washed its hands of itself. It no longer represents the players. And yet Billy Hunter is on the legal team along with David Boies, filing suit on behalf of Carmelo Anthony, Leon Powe, Kevin Durant, and others, all on different teams. Furthermore, every legal expert CBSSports.com has spoken with has regarded this move as a negotiating tactic, with Boies even telling reporters including Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the goal is to settle this in negotiation. At that point, most everyone assumes that just like the NFLPA, the NBPA will reform. 

Due to these circumstances, one area the league will attempt to attack the players' litigation is by claiming this is a "sham" disclaimer of interest. In short, they're still acting like a union, they're still planning on being a union, they're just saying they're not a union right now.

There has not been a clear precedent on whether a. intent is a matter to consider when regarding decertification or disclaimer of interest, nor b. whether disclaim of interest/decertification is a "light switch" you can flip on and off. Luckner says it's unlikely the court will argue with the first element. 

"I don't see the court necessarily attacking the players' motivation," Luckner says, but he adds "while holding them to the letter of the law."

Holding them to the letter of the law means the union cannot act as a regulator on behalf of the players. They've washed their hands, so they have to be fine if the players get their hands dirty. One possible ramification of the the disclaimer of interest is that players and the league can negotiate independently. Technically speaking, the players or owners could make a deal with the other side, just to sign themselves. That's obviously not going to happen, on either side. But as paychecks dwindle, Luckner notes that players could get desperate to regain their paychecks or in pursuit of playing in their short career window.  

The trick here becomes when the National Basketball Trade Association, or whatever loose organization that is coordinating the players' legal efforts attempt to corral those players. In that case, if discovered, the court would hold the liable parties in violation of the disclaimer. In short, if you're going to say you're not a union, you can't act like one. The league's response will be to challenge the disclaimer of interest itself, saying it doesn't matter if the union says it's not a union if it's still acting like a union.

These are just a handful of issues facing the players and the league with this course of action. It's messy, and complicated, and issues and rebuttals and motions will stack on top of each other and take months to sort out. Meanwhile more games are canceled and we continue to wait to see if reason enters anywhere into this conversation. 
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:55 am
 

What's it about, Herb Kohl?

By Matt Moore 

Herb Kohl is one of the owners who has pushed for the proposals that have resulted in the ongoing NBA lockout, according to multiple reports. The popular narrative goes as follows: small-market owners are tired fo being doormats and losing money on their teams so they want a system that guarantees profitability and levels the playing field for them to compete with the Lakers and Celtics of the world. There's a lot of variation in that depending on who you talk to (for example, Ted Leonsis who owns the Washington D.C. Wizards is one such "small-market" owner), but that's the basic storyline being told by many of the reports. 

If Kohl is on that side of the fence, though, it's a stunning reversal from public statements he's made in the past regarding what it means to own the Bucks. From Bucks blog Bucksketball:
“I’m not in this business to make any annual profits,” Kohl said after dismissing General Manager Larry Harris in 2008. “The value of the asset fortunately has appreciated over the years. On an annual basis, it’s a money-losing proposition. I’m in it because I love the sport, I love the competition and I love winning.”

At what point does our current reality, the reality that has connected Kohl with a group of owners now looking to tip the basketball related income scales heavily in their favor while making other radical system changes, contrast with Kohl’s traditional motives that don’t involve making money, rather just competing and keeping the team he loves in Milwaukee?
via Herb Kohl’s actions may be betraying his words |.

Bucksketball notes that in the past, Kohl has been a staunch supporter of an increase in revenue sharing, citing MLB's model.  So you can more easily understand this position than the caricature image of billionaire owners' gigantic maws trying to devour everything in existance. It's not unreasonable to want to be able to compete when you are at a disadvantage. You can argue the merits of whether or not good teams in big markets that make huge profits should have to share with their brethren, but this is at least something fans can agree with.

But then, as always, there's the money.

In that above quote, Kohl says he's not in this business to make any annual profits. And that's right decent of him. Having owners that just want to win for themselves and the fans really should be what professional sports, and in particular the NBA, is about. If you're trying to make a lot of money by owning an NBA team, to borrow a phrase, you're doing it wrong. That's not the path. So why then the revenue split tactics? Why shake the players down for 50/50 BRI or lower?

Furthermore, why isn't this an internal issue with the league? If you're looking to change the system, change the system. The players at any point after, say, August would happily have granted systemic changes in exchange for the BRI cut back. And a better revenue sharing system, a legitimate one that actually accounts for the unfathomable riches that come with each team's independent television deal, would more than have at least started the teams on the way back to profitability.

But again, we ask. What's this about, profitability or competitive balance? The league wants to maintain that it's about both. But in reality, what the NBA really needs is for its owners to decide a vision for their own ownership and stick with it.  
Posted on: November 15, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Hunter:Players to file antitrust suit against NBA

By Matt Moore 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the players' legal proceedings against the league will begin:



This comes as no surprise based on what we've already reported. Players' attorney David Boies told reporters the suit will challenge the lockout as an "illegal boycott." The players signed as plaintiffs in the case will be Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe, and Kawhi Leonard. Boies joked the case will be filed in Northern California due to a "fondness for Oakland" from Billy Hunter, then followed by saying it was because it's expected to help with expediency, and in reality, because the district is known to be union-favorable. You can expect the league to file to move the case to the 2nd circuit in New York, where they filed their original suit against the players pre-emptively. 

Boies also told reporters that they would not be asking for an injunction, but a summary judgement instead. Boies said the collective bargaining process "absolutely had ended" which is more coverage against the league's assertion that the disclaimer of interest filed by the NBPA is a "sham" used as a tactic in negotiations. The players are asking for treble damages, which would mean triple the amount of whatever monetary amount the players ascertain they are owed due to the lockout.

Boies said it is possible to get a summary judgment before the cancelation of the season, but also said that the goal is to resolve it out of court. Which you have to wonder how that's going to affect the sham argument. 

Players also filed suit in Minnesota, the same district that the NFL case was fought in, according to Boies, with more possible. Plaintiffs included Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams and Caron Butler. The Minnesota complaint can be read in its entirety online here. It's a barrage of lawsuits, essentially. Boies said that the California suit will include David Stern's ultimatum regarding a reversion to a more conservative offer from the league if the 50/50 proposal was rejected. Boies said "That's not collective bargaining."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com