Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 12:23 pm

Hunter: Mediation could begin again next week?

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Somebody needs to step in and take control of the NBA lockout.

As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported on Tuesday, that somebody could be proven deal-maker Jim Quinn, who has recently spoken with both sides and offered up his services as an intermediary in getting the negotiations back on track.

Also on Tuesday, Billy Hunter, executive director of the now disbanded National Basketball Players Association, said that somebody could be a mediator who could begin overseeing talks as early as next week.

The catch? Federal Mediator George Cohen, who participated in two rounds of discussions earlier this fall, could be replaced by someone else, a decision left to the judge who was appointed the players' consolidated antitrust lawsuit against the NBA filed in Minnesota on Monday.

The Associated Press has more. 

Union executive director Billy Hunter said Tuesday he expected that a Minnesota magistrate judge would mediate the players' lawsuit against the NBA, as the court did in the NFL's labor dispute.

Hunter specifically mentioned U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, the court-appointed mediator in the NFL talks. Boylan is not the magistrate assigned to the NBA antitrust suit, although the district judge has the discretion to appoint a different magistrate to mediate.

"What may very well be is the judge there directs the magistrate, as they did in the NFLPA case, to host a settlement conference, and that could possibly occur as early as next week," Hunter said.

One reason the players' lawyers decided to consolidate two suits against the NBA in Minnesota, he said, was that the district court there routinely uses magistrates to mediate cases.

Hunter said Tuesday that the possibility of having a magistrate mediate also played into the decision, with the same goal in mind: resolving the labor strife quickly.

"It makes it easier for the parties to get together when the court is involved," he said.

A mediator is a great idea, but he or she wouldn't have much time to work with. The NBA faces an assumed drop-dead date of early-January to reach a deal before the entire 2011-2012 season would need to be canceled. The two sides haven't met face-to-face in nearly two weeks as the players opted to file their antitrust lawsuit rather than respond to the league's most recent collective bargaining agreement proposal.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 5:34 pm

Stevenson: Billy Hunter is 'doing horrible job'

Posted by Ben Golliverdeshawn-stevenson

It took a grand total of eight days for a well-known NBA player to call out names in publicly trashing the NBPA's strategy of disclaiming interest and launching an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

Dallas Mavericks forward DeShawn Stevenson -- who else? -- stepped into the limelight to bash Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, in his harsh critique of the union's legal strategy.

Yahoo Sports has the details.
“For me, personally, I don’t think there will be a season,” Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson said recently at Drew Gooden’s Make-A-Wish charity game. “Right now there is just a lot of bad blood and [the owners] keep putting offers out that we’re rejecting. So we’re not going anywhere.”

“I felt like we should have decertified in July,” Stevenson said. “I feel like Billy Hunter is doing a horrible job because basically now [the owners] know our hand. The media knows our hand. The owners know our hand.”
These shots at Hunter come at the end of a circus year for Stevenson, who won his first title in June and became a household name during the title run thanks to his repeated attacks on Miami Heat forward LeBron James.

Stevenson said that James "checked out" during the Finals by spending too much time "deferring" to Dwyane Wade. He reportedly posted a message on Facebook saying that said James was "overrated." He later denied writing it: "If you look at me and look at all these tattoos, do you think I’d be sitting on the Internet and typing? C’mon, man." 

After the title celebration, Stevenson wore a t-shirt that read, "Hey LeBron! How's my Dirk taste?" Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for public intoxication but claimed that the police targeted him for "no reason."

Because it's Stevenson, it would be tempting for the union leadership to ignore his comments. Last Friday, though, Hunter's NBPA predecessor, Charles Grantham, publicly questioned Hunter's legal strategy and raised concerns about the players' current predicament. When Stevenson and Grantham, a distinguished professor and experienced negotiator, see eye-to-eye, you know there's a serious problem.

Assuming that it clings to its current strategy, union leadership is left to hope that those players who share Stevenson's beliefs don't get fed up with remaining quiet while the legal process drags on. After all, player discontent is the single most powerful variable that could help save the 2011-2012 NBA season in the short term. Unless a group of players stands up, publicly or privately, to apply pressure to the union leadership in an effort to shift course away from litigation and back to negotiation, there doesn't seem to be any other forces working towards a quick resolution. The league and its owners appear perfectly content to dig in for the long haul, and the players' new lawyers don't seem to be in any huge rush either. The legal trainwreck is headed smoothly down the tracks unless disgruntled players throw themselves in front to stop it.

I hate to say it -- and it's probably never been said before -- but the NBA needs more DeShawn Stevensons, at least if the league is to have any hope of conducting a 2011-2012 season.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 4:10 pm

Report: NY escort business off 30% during lockout

Posted by Ben Golliver


For five months we've searched high and low for any sign that National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter was competent and/or respected by his union's members. For five months, we came back mostly empty-handed, and we had our collective faith in Hunter seriously questioned last week when he decided to disband the union, throwing the 2011-2012 NBA season into an even deeper level of chaos.

Now, though, we finally have solid proof that Hunter was respected all along, that his difficult to decipher plan is unfolding exactly as he intended, and that his players are following his commands in lockstep.

CNBC.com reports that a New York escort service has seen its profits drop 30 percent because of the ongoing NBA lockout.
A 30 percent decline seems to be the Magic number, even for Henry, who runs an escort service in New York that he says charges between $400 and $4,000 an hour, depending on the woman.

Henry says he takes between 65 and 80 percent of the total cut to match the players and other high-profile fans, who are with the client an average of four hours.

"There are replacements but they aren't as consistent and not nearly as high paying," Henry said.
Over the last two years, Hunter preached to his players that they should be saving their money. He kept preaching financial planning and many kept assuming that the players as a whole just tuned him out and went about their business. That thought was reinforced when Cleveland Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels said that a bunch of NBA players were already "panicking" on the day that their first paychecks were missed this season. A few more missed paychecks, conventional wisdom dictated, and the players would cave.

But these New York escort numbers simply don't lie. The players have obviously cut back significantly. They clearly understand that they face the possibility of an extended work stoppage. This is sacrifice.

NBA commissioner David Stern and the owners must survey this statistic and force themselves to come to terms with a tough-to-swallow conclusion. Confronted with the players' steel-like solidarity under the tireless leadership of Hunter, it's time to get back to the bargaining table with an improved offer.
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 5:44 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 8:59 pm

Boies: NBA players consolidate antitrust lawsuits

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Last week, National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter announced that his union was disbanding so that the NBA players could file antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. The immediate question that was raised: was this a legit strategy or a legal longshot?

One week later, USA Today reported that one of the lawsuits filed by the players, set to be heard in Northern California, has been abandoned. 
NBA players involved in lawsuit vs. NBA in California's Northern District file notice of voluntary dismissal of complaint without prejudice.
Later Monday, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that the voluntary dismissal was a precursor to the players' decision to consolidate their two antitrust lawsuits into one. Players' attorney David Boies made that announcement official during a Monday evening press conference in New York.

"David Boies says players filing consolidated complaint, combining the cases in California and Minnesota," Berger reported. "The consolidated complaint including all plaintiffs from both cases was filed today in Minnesota."

Players originally named as plaintiffs in the California case included New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Knicks guard Chauncey Billups, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, San Antonio Spurs rookie forward Kawhi Leonard and free agent forward Leon Powe. Players named as plaintiffs in the original Minnesota case included free agent forward Caron Butler, Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver and Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams.

"This is now a consolidated class action on behalf of all the players," Boies said, according to Berger. "If we had not done this, the courts would have done it."

"This should permit us to expedite the case," Boies said of the consolidated complaint, noting that additional plantiffs will be added to the case. Those players include Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Baron Davis, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Randolph

NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan issued the following statement in response to the consolidation.

"We assume that Mr. Boies was not happy with either the reassignment of the case from Oakland to San Francisco or that the new judge scheduled the first conference for March of 2012," the statement read. "This is consistent with Mr. Boies’ inappropriate shopping for a forum that he can only hope will be friendlier to his baseless legal claims.”

Boies, in turn, called the NBA's statement "ridiculous," Berger reported, before adding that no settlement talks have taken place yet.

"It takes two people to negotiate," Boies said. The NBA has until December 5 to formally respond in court to the players' consolidated legal complaint.
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. 

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