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As the NBA lockout ticked over to its 137th day, David Stern said publicly that “it looks like the 2011/12 season is really in jeopardy.”
The disagreement between the NBA, owners and players supported by their union continued today as NBA commissioner David Stern delivered the latest and final offer to union rep Billy Hunter and a contingent consisting of more than 50 players in New York.
Today’s meeting didn’t go to the extreme nine hour meetings that several discussions have gone for, however after three hours the decision to reject was announced, along with the declaration that the union would disband and an antitrust lawsuit would be filed.
Hunter told the awaiting media that “we’re prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA … that’s the best situation where players can get their due process.”
Stern’s response was that Hunter and the union were employing the lawsuit as a scare tactic. We will have to wait and see with that.
To date the only action we have seen is in the court, not on the court. US District Judge Paul Gardephe is yet to make ruling on the legality of the current lockout situation. The union has engaged two former rivals in the court room during the NFL dispute, Jeffrey Kessler (represented the NFL players) and David Boies (represented the NFL).
Boies has already been out in the media talking and recently stated that it’s a situation in which the collective bargaining process has essentially broken down. For their own purposes, the NBA has chosen to issue an ultimatum. It’s our way or no way.
There is some hope still for games to be played however. Negotiations can still occur during the legal process and Keyon Dooling (union VP and guard for the Milwaukee Bucks) provided a glimmer of optimism saying that, “I believe we’ll continue to try and get a deal done or let this process play out”, adding, “I don’t know what to expect from this process.”
The owners are seeking a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. Under the old deal, players were assured of 57 per cent. That is $280 million dollars per year to the owners.
Here is what is wrong with this whole situation. The union presented the NBA’s offer not to hundreds of players, but 30 player reps who were undivided in snubbing the offer. The union with Billy Hunter in charge chose to go to the 30 elected representatives rather than the executive committee or the full membership. Why?
Several players have show aversion in the way they are being handled by the union and have taken to social media to vent their emotions. Houston Rockets guard Kevin Marin said, “We’re all grown men and its time for the players to control their career decision.”
I will finish with this, again from the mouth of David Boies when asked how long could this take? His response: “The owners could decide to open their doors and hire players today. They don’t need a union for that. They could go off and hire people the way most businesses hire people.
“They could identify a person, they negotiate a salary, and there’s absolutely no reason that couldn’t happen right now.”