NBA PM: Too Many Factions for New CBA?
NBA PM: Stern, Fisher fight factions for new CBA?
Building a consensus in the NBA has never been more difficult.
Back before the lockout began in July, there were two distinct, separate camps: The players wanted the system to stay largely the same while the owners wanted drastic changes.
And yet here we are in November—not seemingly any closer to a new collective bargaining agreement—and we have at least two distinct groups of owners (small market and large market) as well as an ever-diversifying union. One group of players (and agents) seems ready to decertify and take this fight to the other kind of court while a more moderate group is still hoping to pull out a 51% cut of basketball-related income. And now, with 30 union representatives deciding the players’ next move in New York City, Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson is reporting that there’s a group of foreign players pushing to accept commissioner David Stern’s 50-50 split of BRI. Stern’s deadline isn’t until the close of business on Wednesday, so the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street still have time to carve out factions of their own.
“They want to take the deal right now and play,” a source told the Tribune of the foreign contingent.
The silver lining of all this fracturing is that some have taken it as an opportunity to review the big picture. Obstinateness is only rewarding if you get everything you want, so several players have turned to pragmatism. Lakers point guard Steve Blake (how many Lakers point guards are going to get involved in these negotiations?) is imploring the union to take a vote on the owners’ proposal and sources have told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that he’s inclined to accept the offer.
Rockets guard Kevin Martin has publically expressed a desire to agree to the owners’ proposal, which until recently had reportedly been frowned upon by many small-market owners. But when asked if the league’s latest offer would be accepted (if not palatable) to owners such as the Bobcats Michael Jordan and the Blazers Paul Allen, Stern answered in the affirmative.
So when did everyone become so agreeable?
Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Operation Decertify believes it’s on its way to 50% of the players’ signatures, Yahoo! Sports reported in the aforementioned article, and one agent told Wojnarowski that they don’t want to stop there.
“We want a show of force with the percentage who sign the petition,” the anonymous agent said.
Remember, the union only needs around 30% of the players’ signatures to force a vote on decertification, paving the way for an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA.
It’s hard to say what all the divisiveness has done to the negotiating process, but for once Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher aren’t being seen as villains.
The recent weeks have illustrated just how difficult their jobs have become. It’s one thing for Stern to quarrel with Hunter, but it’s a different challenge altogether to get Peter Holt and James Dolan on the same page.
Meanwhile Fisher has had to put rumors of a side deal with the league to bed while navigating the union’s litany of options. Of course, he’s practiced walking this tightrope by playing with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, so maybe this whole thing hasn’t been so taxing on him.
Nobody knows how successful Stern, Silver, Hunter and Fisher will be, but we’ll have a better idea by Wednesday evening, when the Stern’s patience is scheduled to run out. If he is telling the truth, and the league’s offers become increasingly indigestible for the union, then it seems decertification and a lengthy lawsuit would soon follow.
Here’s to optimism, pragmatism and an end to all of this nonsense.
(Update: 30 NBA union representatives reject owners’ offer)
The union refused to give in to the owners on Tuesday. The 30 player union representatives rejected the owners’ deal wholeheartedly, preventing the union from voting on it, so they’re clearly thinking one of two things: Either David Stern was bluffing about the NBA’s offers getting progressively worse for the players OR the union believes it has a chance for a better deal by decertifying and taking the matter to court.
“We wanted to make it clear that our players are here to handle really serious business for our fans, our cities … they want us to get back to work … but they don’t want us to be shortsighted and get a deal done just to say we got a deal done today and regret it five or 10 years from now,” Fisher said, as quoted by Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Fagan wrote that Hunter and the executive committee had been given permission to continue negotiating, but that this deal would not suffice. Later Hunter said there’s a chance the league could cancel Christmas Day games if there is no deal by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Hunter also addressed the rumor that there are factions within the union.
“We hope they understand that the players are united,” he said. “We’re convinced that the vast majority of players stand behind our position.”
Hunter, however, did admit, “There’s obviously a diversity of opinion” on the players’ side.
Check Out: Magic Johnson’s NBA Future
As many people know, it’s been 20 years since Magic Johnson told America he had contracted HIV. But what many people don’t know, and what NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper pointed out, is that Magic is far from done in the NBA.
Yes, Johnson is actively involved in bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles (there’s a proposed stadium which would be built near the Staples Center), and he could get involved with the Los Angeles Dodgers ongoing sale, but he’s also keeping an eye out for another ownership opportunity in the NBA.
Johnson sold his minority stake in the Lakers over a year ago and now he’s eager to have his voice heard by an NBA team in a player personnel role or simply as a majority owner. Johnson reportedly pursued the Warriors and Pistons, but was beaten to the punch by two other ownership groups. Now the Hornets, Hawks and possibly the Kings remain options for Johnson, who has earned millions in his other business ventures away from basketball.
It’s hard to say what team he would look to buy until the lockout ends. Johnson is obviously eager to contribute to a team’s success, but he also wants to do his best to find the right situation.
In Case You Missed It: NPR’s Take on the NBA Lockout
Michael Cross of NPR addressed the NBA Lockout on Morning Edition and the effect it’s having on local business. One restaurant in Oklahoma City named “Bricktown” usually sees a 15% spike in sales during Thunder home games, so it’s easy to see how such business are being burdened.
“I know what Bricktown looks like when it’s a game, and so I can just imagine that these restaurants down here are hurting not having that business,” Oklahoma City resident Maria Allen told NPR.
But it’s not only commerce that’s taking a hit during the lockout. OKC Mayor Mick Cornett sees a sense of community suffering as well.
“The idea of having Kevin Durant out there playing with ‘Oklahoma City’ on his chest and being in sports magazines and the team being on national television,” Cornett told NPR, “those are very positive elements for the community, and there’s an indirect economic development to all of that.”
NPR has an interesting outsiders take on the lockout, so it might be worth your time.
(Writer’s note: Sorry only three Lakers point guards made today’s NBA PM. We’ll try to work in Norm Nixon next time.)
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