It sounds worse than it is, really. In reality, the players' decision to decertify the union is nothing more than a move to put the guns in a row for the upcoming battle: Lockout 2011, coming this summer to a vacant theater near you. But it's noteworthy that the union very much knows what it's doing and is following protocol. From the Dallas Business Journal :
NBA players have begun the process of authorizing the decertification of the National Basketball Players Association, a move meant as a countermeasure if the league locks out players when the collective-bargaining agreement expires in June, sources said.via NBA clubs vote on decertification | Dallas Business Journal .
Players for at least two NBA clubs have voted unanimously to authorize decertification after meeting with NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, sources said. Hunter is asking players at each club to vote to allow the union to disband, or decertify, as he makes his annual fall tour of locker rooms.
So why is the union dissolving itself in the middle of the biggest fight as a union in ten years? Simple: lawsuits. By decertifying the union, the group becomes a trade organization. Which means that should the owners lock them out, they can then sue with a claim that the owners are conducting a group boycott, which is illegal under antitrust laws.
Which would inevitably lead to the league arguing that the decertification is a sham (it is), and that the players don't really want to decertify themselves as a union (they don't). But the union, now a trade organziation, would make every effort to convince them otherwise and leave that avenue open to pursuit.
At some point down this road basketball will be played again. But in the meantime, I'd ejoy the next seven months if I were you. It's all we're going to have for a while.