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Tag:BIlly Hunter
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:28 am
 

Former NBPA boss: Players taking wrong approach

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Thump.

That's the sound of the bus backing up and rolling over Billy Hunter.

On Monday, Hunter, as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, announced that the players union would be disbanding so that the players could file multiple antitrust lawsuits against the NBA. That bold move, which came as a surprise to many and potentially could lead to the cancellation of the entire 2011-2012 season, has brought his predecessor out of the woodwork.

In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, Charles Grantham, the executive director of the NBPA from 1988-1995, said that the NBA players should be playing games right now and not chasing the possibility of legal victories while missing paychecks.
"Today, we spend too much time in the court, with too many lawyers. … Instead of having 10 lawyers and an economist you should probably have 10 CPAs or forensic accountants and two lawyers," said Grantham, a guest lecturer on professional sports negotiations at Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business. "In this case, (the players are) looking to use the law to gain leverage, to get a better business deal, when, in fact, the negotiations that should be taking place is with regard to how you divide that (every) $100."

"My philosophy was to keep the guys working, because they lose income that's not recoverable," he said. "They're employees. They're not partners. … Let's not get this twisted, (players) don't sit in the boardroom."
You can just see NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver opening up their newspaper on Friday morning and breaking out into a synchronized Dougie. The reverse equivalent of these comments would be if a former NBA commissioner held a press conference to call the hard-line owners greedy while admitting that their goal of improving competitive balance is a total crock and is actually just a poor excuse for drastically limiting free agency. 

Disagreeing with the controversial decision to disclaim the union is one thing, but to suggest that the players should have taken whatever deal they could get to save their paychecks -- even the extremely owner-friendly one presented to them last week -- is another thing entirely. Grantham clearly advocates both stances here. This is Bruce Bowen-esque undercutting we are witnessing right now. Watch your ankles, Billy!

The key word in Grantham's comments is "philosophy", and it's easy to see the many places where he likely would have departed from the path Hunter has chosen. Hunter, remember, admitted early on that the possibility of losing part or all of a season was very likely, given how steep the league's demands were. If the players' goal had simply been to negotiate and then accept the best possible deal with the express purpose of not missing any games this season, the last three or four years would have unfolded quite differently. 

The union would have met Stern's demands for a financial overhaul with capitulation, rather than threats of decertification, early in the process. That would likely have meant sacrificing the Basketball Related Income issue, the most important one to hard-line owners, to focus on the system issues they felt were most in need of preservation. Then, the union would have acted with much greater haste in scheduling meetings throughout 2011, looking to chip away at whatever minor victories they might have been able to salvage while publicly preaching that they were operating for the good of the sport. The union would have publicly sided with the league in decrying any individual agents who dissented from the approach or tried to exert influence on the negotiating process. There would have been no months taken off this summer, no bombastic rhetoric about plantation overseers, no need for a federal mediator, and certainly no preemptive legal filings to set the table for later lawsuits.

The final deal produced by that path would have been, without question, a landslide for the owners, an even worse deal than the most recent offer that the players rejected this week. But, no one can dispute that it would have been better than nothing, which is what the players are stuck with right now.

That said, the only way to judge whether Grantham's approach would have been better is to compare the final deal the players agree to, less the salaries lost during the fight, to the hypothetical deal that we've just laid out. If the two sides resume negotiations and are able to save a portion of the 2011-2012 season, there's a good chance that will mean that the league agreed to additional concessions along the way. That could mean Hunter's brass tacks approach won out. If the season is lost entirely, though, there's virtually no argument to be made that Grantham's save-the-paychecks-no-matter-what approach would have produced a worse situation for the players once all those lost salaries are gone for good. The only Hail Mary possibility there: a major victory in court for the players, but that seems awfully improbable.

In sum: it's still too soon to authoritatively second-guess Hunter. But the time for that is coming very quickly, possibly in as few as six weeks. Grantham, though, isn't bothering to wait. He sounds happy to get on the record with his doubts and philosophical differences right now, when things look bleakest. That's a bad sign for Hunter, the players and this process as a whole.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:24 pm
 

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association disbanded so that it could file antritrust lawsuits against the NBA, charging the league with an illegal boycott. By Wednesday, its executive director, Billy Hunter, was publicly raising the possibility that the players could form their own professional basketball league independent of the NBA.

Writer Toure reports that Hunter addressed the possibility during a panel discussion.
Billy Hunter: "The season is not yet on life support. There's still time to put on an abbreviated season... The players decision to blow up the union [decertify] was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let's get it on! ... The owners are scared of Lebron style movement and want to keep players wedded to franchises.... Maybe we can start our own league. There are facilities where we can do that. Can't play at MSG but can play at St John's... There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA."
Not to overuse legal phrases because we're stuck in this quagmire of lawyers, but the burden of proof is on the players -- whether that's as individuals, a group, a union or a trade association -- to show that they can organize -- not to mention profit from -- anything besides one-off exhibition games. Since the lockout went into effect in July, the NBA's biggest stars have criss-crossed the country for charity and drawn crowds of varying sizes along the way. When big draws like LeBron James and Kevin Durant were involved, there was hardly an empty seat.

But when the players have attempted to put together anything larger in scale, it hasn't worked from an economics perspective. There was the entertaining Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas, which drew dozens of players for two weeks of competitive 5-on-5 action. It also drew dozens of fans, literally, and never came close to selling out a gym that seats 500 people. There was also a globetrotting world tour that was expected to feature every big name star imaginable; that fizzled completely before the first stop, a visit to nearby Puerto Rico, could get off the ground.

Forming their own league -- however loosely you want to define that term -- is much more difficult than it sounds. The personnel infrastructure to support it, the buildings to house it, the sponsors to help pay for it, the television network to broadcast it: all of those are major, difficult questions that would need to be answered. Those answers would take precious time too.

A players' league is not impossible but it's also not particularly probable. The players would wind up playing, and risking injury, for a small fraction of their NBA salaries.

Hunter likely floats the idea here because he must appear totally serious about the players' antitrust lawsuits against the league. Even though most expect the lawsuits to lead to more negotiations rather than a years-long legal battle, Hunter has to at least pay lip service to the possibility of an alternative professional basketball reality without the NBA. Unfortunately, much like the decision to issue the disclaimer of interest, forming a league is something that he should have been planning carefully months ago if he felt a protracted legal battle was a real possibility. There's no reason that NBA All-Stars shouldn't be putting on a 10-city goodwill tour throughout December, entertaining fans and applying pressure on the negotiations along the way.

Instead, more players are heading overseas and Hunter continues to talk about future possibilities that will likely never come to fruition. Everybody loses. 

Hat tip: Slam Online 
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 2:30 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 3:23 pm
 

For players, it's become too emotional

Posted by Royce Young

When Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and 60 some-odd players stood behind a podium Monday afternoon after a players' meeting, most expected them to announce they'd be putting the league's proposal to a vote. Or at least, announce they're making a counter.

But that didn't happen. Instead, it was doomsday.

I think you, probably like me, were left wondering one thing: Why? What are the players thinking? The chances of them actually winning a lawsuit are slim. The chances of them recouping their losses in a new collective bargaining agreement are probably even slimmer. And yet instead of pushing forward and trying to push the pressure back on the league and owners to accept their revised deal, they decided to blow it up. They didn't even try and mask it. During their press conference they even said that. They wanted to completely detonate the current negotiations.

Again: Why?

Because players are emotional. This isn't a negotiation anymore. It's a fight. The owners have always tried to approach this as a business deal and the players met them on that -- until now. Consider this quote from Kevin Durant over the weekend:

“I know we get paid handsomely but we deserve to fight for something that’s right,” he told HoopsWorld. “We feel that they’re trying to strong-arm us and back us into a corner just to accept the deal. Of course they’re going to bluff and show the fans, try to put the fans against us like they’re the good guys and we’re the bad guys.

“I think getting what you deserve and fighting for something you believe is right is something all the players really care about,” he continued.  “Of course we enjoy the fans, we like the fans that come and support us.  They’re the reason why we’re playing this game, the reason why we continue to play this game but at some point you have to fight for what’s right and we can’t get bullied.”

That, says it all. In a game setting, if Nene throws a shoulder into Kendrick Perkins, Perkins is not only going to shove him back, but Durant and the rest of the team is going to back up their teammate. It's just their nature. That's what's happening here. David Stern just gave Derek Fisher an elbow. And here come his teammates.

Billy Hunter said on a podcast that this has become a "moral" issue for the players. At the time, it just seemed like talk to try and scare the league. But clearly it's not. This is an emotional thing. And players are extremely emotional. They live off it. It's what drives them. They're competitive, emotional and passionate. Prideful.

So why would we expect anything less from them now, especially after they were backed into a corner by David Stern's ultimatum? The players wanted to stand and fight instead of just taking their medicine from the rich guys running the league.

I think Jerry Stackhouse said it well while ripping Derek Fisher. "Players are emotional. Players get emotional," he said. "So no, I don't necessarily, particularly want Derek Fisher or any of the executive committee negotiating a contract for me."

I mean, Hunter actually called the hard salary cap a "blood issue," meaning, I guess, that the players would rather die than give in to that. That's what the owners are negotiating against. It's nothing really all that new to them as they've haggled over contracts and extensions with players for years, but now the players are collectively fighting. At least that's the appearance.

I understand taking a stand for what you think is right. A tip of the cap to that. But this isn't a fight against poverty or injustice to children or something. This is about business. A $4 billion one, in fact. One in which the employees are paid more than $5 million per year annually on average.

At some point, the players are going to have to approach it that way. I'm all for doing what you think is right. If the players were being greedy, they would've just accepted this deal, cashed their paychecks and forgot all about it. But instead, they're sacrificing for future generations of players. They're taking a hit not for themselves necessarily, but to one, set a new precedent that says the players won't be bullied and two, give the future players of the NBA a decent system to play in.

But this is a business decision. And sometimes, looking it as a moral dilemma isn't what's wise. Because in the end, players typically end up getting screwed in these situations. It's a bad idea to operate in this atmosphere running on emotion. You have to always keep your head and make sure every move makes sense not just in terms of saving face, but also actual dollars and cents. You can't let pride interrupt what's wise. That's a challenge every busisnessperson has to face on a daily basis.

This court battle is exactly what David Stern called it: It's a tactic. Nothing more. The players want a deal. The owners want a deal. Nobody wants to go to court and actually sue for damages. That's not the plan here, though if both sides remain stubborn, it will be. What both sides want is to get back to playing basketball. It's just all about playing cards right now and throwing out bets that hopefully force the other side to give a little. They very well may have pushed all-in there and could lose every chip they have, but they're not going to fold. They're going to go down in a blaze.

Why didn't the players just take the deal and move on? It's the best deal they'll probably get and despite it not being fair one bit, it might not matter. The reason is because that's not how they're bred. That's not what's in them. They aren't just going to give up. You back a professional athlete into a corner and tell him he has to lose and he's going to fight back. It's like Walter White in Breaking Bad. The players are trying to tell the league, "I am the one who knocks." It's all about grabbing the upper hand.

Don't wonder why the players didn't just take the NBA's offer. Because the reason should be obvious. It's just not what they do.
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."
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 6:12 pm
 

NBA Lockout: Games

By Matt Moore 

We never thought it would come this. We always knew it would come to this.

It became pretty apparent during the lockout that this was not two geniuses of chess eying each other over a board and carefully maneuvering their pieces in a symphony of strategy. No, this was drunken toddlers flinging chess pieces across the room while they swung their hands down. And each game the owners would win, they'd smash the board and scream "MOAR! MOAR WINS!" And each time the players would lose they'd cry and kick and smash the boar dand scream "No fair!" as if their daddy was going to come in and rescue them.

But surely they couldn't be stupid enough to let it come to this, right?

Of course they were stupid enough to let it come to this.

The owners backed the players into a corner. They bullied and shoved and strong-armed their way into getting nearly everything they could reasonably expect to win. Then they demanded more. They put the players in a terrible position, forced against the wall, no escape, with only one round in their chamber.

And the players summarily blew their own head off.

It is an opera, really. A dramatic interpretation of two clowns trying so hard to fight one another they knock themselves out. Only no one's laughing. It would be funny, if there weren't lost jobs, careers forever altered, and an outright disgust for both sides and their inability to corral their extremist contingents. At some point you have to tell the children in the room to sit down, shut up, and behave. Instead, both sides said "Oh, are you upset? Here, why don't you drive the car. No, we don't have insurance, why do you ask?"

The reason smart analysts like Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Chris Sheridan, and other continued to say "no, the season won't be canceled, they'll get a deal" is they were so close, it wasn't worth blowing everything up over it. At least one side will come to their senses, was the thought. But it never happened. The players had the opportunity, knowing the deal was close enough to being swallowable, no matter how bad it tasted, to meet on it. So did they vote? No. Did they send the proposal back, approved, with a series of contingent amendments, to put the pressure back on the league and keep the process going? No. Did they ignore the threat and continue to say they were ready to negotiate? No. Any of those actions would have meant the players had a handle on themselves and understood the whole board, understood that they weren't going to see a better deal than this regardless of their action. But that's not what they did.

Instead, they opted for a disclaimer of interest. Not the decertification the union proposed, but this route. Faster, riskier, in pursuit of a summary judgment that is unlikely to come. They decided they'd had enough of this bully and it was time to fight back!

Except this isn't junior high. And they're still going to lose.

Maybe the owners really will fear the awesome might of a lawsuit which, in order to have any effectiveness, would take two to three years to finish through the appeals system and which most legal experts don't think they have a great chance of winning. A chance? Sure. A good one? Eeehh, future is hazy, check back later. Maybe the court really will side with them, and then have whateve result comes out last during the appeals process, and then win the appeal, setting the precedent in a case with far-reaching implications in a matter over professional sports. And if that happens, this will have turned out to have been... well, still a phenomenally stupid move, but they'll have treble damages to play with while the league burns to the ground.

But the more likely scenario is that they've blown up a season, cost themselves that money, blown their chance at BRI above 50 percent, blown their chance at avoiding a hard cap or flex cap and only managed to put more money in the hands of their lawyers. I'm not a legal expert, that's just the impression I've been given by them. There are ways out of this. But considering how complex they are and the two sides' inability to solve simple issues, it doesn't look good.

Don't be confused into thinking this is some sort of sole finger-pointing at the players. They didn't start this fire. They didn't lock themselves out. They didn't make outrageous demands. And they're right that they've made concession after concession. The owners will say they've made concessions, but their original position was never reasonable. Conceding insanity in order to justify advocating for foolishness doesn't make you any less nuts. The owners did this. The players just responded to short-sighted idiocy with more short-sighted idiocy.

And on, and on.

There was no vote yesterday, no consideration of the deal which a lot of rank-and-file players would have accepted. Those 30 reps didn't speak with with all the players they were meant to. And something happened to scare the living bejeezus out of them into voting "unanimously" to disclaim interest. Maybe it was Jeffrey Kessler, who seems to be getting an awful lot of publicity out of this whole ordeal he wouldn't have gotten if there was a deal. Maybe it was Billy Hunter, trying to steer the conversation away from this abject failure in leadership during these negotiations in order to reaffirm his position and save his salary once this ends. Maybe it was the agents, though that's unlikely given their reaction to yesterday's debacle.

But instead there was the grenade pin pulled in the alleyway knife fight, and now everybody dies. The union is dead, the lawyers are running the show, the league's not backing down because they don't have to, and the players aren't entirely sure of what they just did.

And as always, you, the fans, lose.

We never thought it would come to this.

We always knew it would come to this.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com