NBA AM: Still Hope For The 2012 Season
On Monday morning thirty player representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) voted unanimously to decline the latest collective bargaining agreement offer from the NBA.
The NBPA also stated plans to file a Disclaimer of Interest option which would allow players to file litigation against the NBA, taking the lockout discussions from closed sessions to the courtroom.
As expected the NBPA move created a firestorm of doomsday rhetoric from NBA commissioner David Stern and the mainstream media, plenty of finger pointing and not to be left out even more fans threatened to leave the sport for good – eventual deal in place or not.
“We’re prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA,” union executive director Billy Hunter said. “That’s the best situation where players can get their due process.”
Quite simply, the lockout waters just got muddier.
While Hunter was optimistic that legal action would aid the players’ position in securing a more favorable CBA, Stern spent the day reiterating the 2012 season is in danger and that the owners wouldn’t be intimidated from their stance by the anticipated legal proceedings.
“There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy,” Stern said in a statement.
Make no mistake the NBA season is in serious jeopardy, but we’ve been here before.
Both sides have participated in marathon negotiating sessions which have yielded little to no progress, regular season games have already been cancelled and a plethora of ultimatums and deadlines have passed with both parties continuing to engage in talks.
As ESPN’s Ric Bucher pointed out via Twitter the “union disclaimer and filing suit doesn’t prevent owners/players from striking a deal. Still very viable.”
Although the lockout is nearing the 140 day mark it remains important to note that only two weeks of the actual regular season basketball have actually been missed.
Hunter announced David Boies, the skilled lawyer who represented the NFL against the NFL players in their labor dispute earlier this year, would serve as the lead man going forward.
Boies told ESPN it hasn’t been decided if the players group would file a class action antitrust lawsuit against the NBA, preferring to keep all options open.
“I would hope that in the face of a disclaiming union, where there’s no hope of collective bargaining, that the owners would reconsider whether, under these circumstances, it makes sense to continue to boycott,” Boies told ESPN in an interview. “But I have no idea what their strategy is.”
Jarrett Jack Believes Players Are Still Unified: It is widely believed NBA players, like the majority of society, live paycheck to paycheck. So it came as no surprise that when the lockout began back in July most people predicted the players’ resolve in holding the union line would significantly wilt once the money stopped rolling in.
The league mandate which cancelled all November regular season games has cost the players an estimated $350 million in salaries.
Yet there was the player representatives unanimously rejecting the owners’ latest CBA proposal on Monday which put the entire 2012 season in serious jeopardy.
The threat of sitting out a full season which once seemed like an empty quote from players during the initial stages of the ongoing labor dispute now appears to show just how serious the players were from the beginning.
New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack believes the players are ready for a prolonged battle to get what they believe would be a fair labor deal – even if it means losing a season.
“I think that statement is already been pretty much put out there that we’re standing our ground,” Jack told HOOPSWORLD over the weekend, while participating a charity event for the Josh Howard Foundation. “If we were going to fold or crack we would have done that two months ago when it was closer to training camp time. Guys are standing their ground. We have faith in our leadership system we have in place. We’re willing to wait and go long and hard but hopefully we’ll have a resolution in time.”
Jack was also quick to point out that the players could accept the majority of the league’s latest offer but there were certain system issues which neither side were ready to budge.
“I think some of it is fair,” Jack responded when asked about the league’s offer. “Other things I have another stance on it. I don’t want to be the one out here trying to be the voice for us (players) at this particular moment because I know different people feel different ways about different things. I hear we’re about 80 to 90 percent pretty much good but that 10 percent is still strong enough for us to not be playing. If we get those things ironed out hopefully we can make something happen soon.”
The term “soon” may be a stretch since the players are planning to take the owners to court, but with more and more fans threatening to stop following the game Jack also pointed to the plethora of exhibition games being held across the United States by NBA players as proof they want to play ball.
“I think these charity games guys have done in various parts of the country show we definitely want to play,” Jack said. “We’re out here spending our own dollars to get from place to place just to give the fans a glimpse of what they’re accustomed to seeing around this time of year.”
“Hopefully we can get this [lockout] resolved and get a fair deal in place.”
On The Other Hand: None of the owners’ proposals ever made it to the union’s 450 members for a ratification vote.
As the lockout wages on, players such as Glen Davis and Terrence Williams have hit social media urging the union to take the offered deals.
Hard-liners from both sides have led to the labor stalemate.
A large number of rank and file NBA players would have accepted the league’s deal to get back into action, while the majority of large market team owners would have likely taken the offer from the players union at one point.
However the elite star players serve as the players’ hard-line faction and the league’s small market franchise owners are playing the same role on the opposite side leading to a negotiating stalemate.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels, an undrafted rookie last year, told Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal on Monday that while he didn’t like the league offer he would’ve voted to accept it if given the opportunity.
“A lot of people in the league are panicking,” Samuels said in the interview. “You’re talking about missing paychecks. Those paychecks you’re missing are going to add up and guys have families and responsibilities and bills to pay. I’m just a guy that’s coming out of college. I’m 22 years old, I don’t have much responsibility.”
Samuels also seemed to be somewhat irked by Boston Celtics All-Star forward Paul Pierce’s campaign to disband the union over the past month.
“It’s easy for Paul Pierce to say that. You’ve been in the league how long?” Samuels said. “You’ve got a decent amount of money saved up, but what about the guys just coming into the league who don’t have [anything] saved up?”
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