Today NBA players union rejected the owners’ latest proposal and have instead decertified, thereby allowing it to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. It’s the union’s latest tactic to get leverage for a “fair” deal it will never get.
And now, the likelihood of the NBA not having a season this year has increased tenfold.
I know what you’re probably thinking: The players didn’t accept the deal? But they took the weekend to think about it! David Stern said it was the fairest deal possible! Player reps from all 30 teams came in to discuss it! And now the players are saying “no” and possibly throwing away the entire season? Who are they getting advice from, Rick Perry!?
I guess the only thing we learned is that when things in this labor dispute start looking optimistic, it will probably end badly.
“This is the best decision for the players,” National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said. “I want to reiterate that point, that a lot of individual players have a lot of things personally at stake in terms of their careers and where they stand. And right now they feel it’s important – we all feel it’s important to all our players, not just the ones in this room, but our entire group – that we not only try to get a deal done for today but for the body of NBA players that will come into this league over the next decade and beyond.”
The owners were offering a 50-50 split of revenue (BRI), which the NBPA was willing to accept only if it could receive certain concessions, such as resolving discrepancies over system issues that the players felt would impede player transactions. Stern said there was no negotiating the offer and warned the union that only worse offers would follow if that one was declined. The deal also would have provided a 72-game schedule, beginning on Dec. 15.
The union is now taking extreme measures in a doomed quest to get what it expects to be a fair deal. Suing the league on antitrust grounds gives the players a chance, through the courts, to prove that the lockout is illegal, all while hopefully leveraging the owners into offering a fairer deal. It’s a move that probably would have best been played three months ago. If successful, the players stand to receive several billion dollars in triple damages.
However, the owners already beat the players to the punch, filing a pre-emptive lawsuit that claims the lockout is indeed legal, and with the dissolution of the union, players’ contracts can ultimately be voided.
It’s clear to see why the union’s decision today puts the season in jeopardy.
Even still, both sides can avoid a looming, exhaustive legal fight if the players swallow their pride and take the owners’ deal before a worse one replaces it.
Trust me, I’m on the players’ side for this dispute. I find it incredibly disgusting that the owners are trying to solve their own problems by tight-roping the players.
But if it’s a fair deal they seek, the players aren’t going to get a more fair deal than what they were offered, even if they don’t believe that. The owners won’t budge. They’re willing to miss an entire season. Many owners even wanted to offer a more restrictive deal than what was previously presented. It’s almost as if Mr. Burns is an NBA owner. Things can only get worse from here for the players.
Meanwhile, a war of words between the leaders of the two sides has commenced.
“We’ve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down,” union head Billy Hunter said.
“The players just felt they had given enough, and the NBA was not willing or prepared to negotiate. Things were not going to get better.”
“They seem hell-bent on self-destruction,” Stern told ESPN.
“It’s just a big charade. To do it now, the union is ratcheting up I guess to see if they can scare the NBA owners or something. That’s not happening.”
It’s like two teenage boys competing for the affection of the attractive and popular head cheerleader in school, badmouthing and spreading rumors about the other. Only there actually is a cute girl involved, and she comes in the form of the BRI split.
Right now Stern (and the owners) is the one winning out, already rounding the bases with it under the bleachers after practice. Prom is probably in the works, too, while Hunter (and the players) will be left playing Call of Duty at home.