NBA season up in smoke as Players Association disbands
The NBA Players Association held a morning meeting Nov. 14 to discuss the NBA’s latest CBA offer. And then…
“We’ve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down, and as a result, within the last hour we served a notice of disclaimer on commissioner (David) Stern and the NBA,” said Billy Hunter, former head of the Players Association and current de facto head of the National Basketball Trade Association, in a news conference.
Yes, the NBA Players Association, with around 50 players in attendance for the meeting, chose to disclaim interest in being a union rather than accept the owners’ proposal. This course of action will allow the players to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the league. Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies will represent the players in court.
It will also, most assuredly, put an end to any hopes for a season in 2011-12.
NBA players continually stated that they would not be bullied by what they perceived as a “take it or leave it” offer by the NBA. At the heart of the players’ dissatisfaction with the owners’ proposal was the presence of system issues that players felt would limit player movement and restrict the market for their services, thus restricting their earning potential.
The NBA had proposed a more-punitive luxury tax system that would penalize tax-paying teams $1.50 for each dollar over the tax up to $5 million over the tax threshold, $1.75 for every dollar between $5 and $10 million over, $2.50 for every dollar $10 to $15 million over, and $3.25 for every dollar $15 to $20 million above. The luxury-tax system would also add $1 to every tax level for teams that exceed the luxury tax in at least four out of any five seasons.
As well, tax-paying teams would be prohibited from acquiring players via sign-and-trade deals beyond the 2012-13 season.
With that tax system in place, players feared that the bigger-spending teams would be discouraged from bidding on a player’s services, thus diminishing his market. The lack of freedom in the proposed CBA was the biggest issue for the players, not the BRI, which the players had agreed to reduce from 57 percent in the last CBA to 50 percent so long as favorable system changes were included.
The proposal also called for a rollback of around 12 percent in the value of rookie-scale contracts and minimum contracts.
The NBA had stated that if the Players Association did not accept the proposal by Nov. 15, then the league would revert to a “reset offer” that would call for 47 percent BRI for players, a hard cap, and salary rollbacks.
“It’s not going to work,” Stern said of disclaiming in a SportsCenter interview not long after Billy Hunter‘s press conference. “If they were going to do it, they should’ve done it a long time ago…they seem hell-bent on self-destruction.
“We’re about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA,” he said. “If I were one of the 450 players in the NBA, I would be wondering what Billy Hunter just did.”
Not surprisingly, the players had strong and mixed reactions to the decision to disclaim interest.
Deron Williams, a proponent of disbanding the union, stated the following on his Twitter account: “This is why I said we should have done this in July bc at least the process would have been underway... even over! Now possibly #NOSEASON.”
Austin Daye also went to Twitter, saying, “Sad Day wanted the lockout to end, but we just want a fair deal! thats all we ask not to get bullied!! Fans deserve a season!!!!”
Meanwhile, Glen Davis, who has been calling for the players to accept the owners’ deal, was understandably upset by the latest move in the lockout drama. “I’m sitting here at home like everyone else, and I just want to get a job, get a deal done,” Davis told the Boston Herald. “It’s just frustrating.”
And rookie Markieff Morris had this take on Twitter: “Is it really all about the money??” ... “Lol just give everybody a mil and let us play lol because most of us didn't have (expletive) before the league..…”
But no matter what opinions existed, the fact of the matter is that the NBA’s labor dispute is now headed for the courtroom.
Commissioner Stern, in anticipation of this move by the players, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and a lawsuit back in August, claiming that any attempt to disclaim the union would be done solely as a negotiating tactic. Stern cited conversations he had with Kessler in which Kessler allegedly threatened to disclaim the union back in 2010.
Stern also asked in his lawsuit that, upon the union ceasing to exist, all player contracts be voided. The NBA’s lawsuit and NLRB complaint have yet to be ruled upon, but these issues throw more drama into the unknown territory both the NBA and players now find themselves in.
By: Eric Lorenz
> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.