Blog Entry

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 7:58 pm
Posted by Ben Gollivernbpa-stand

LAS VEGAS -- Yards away from the Vdara Hotel's lobby, where an endless line of tourists stood patiently waiting to check into their hotel room, a large group of NBA players sat in a conference room on Thursday morning, getting briefed on the latest news from ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, NBPA president Derek Fisher and other NBPA executive committee members.

The immediate message from the NBPA executive committee after the meeting closed approximated the sentiment expressed in a letter sent Wednesday from Fisher to every NBA player: Player solidarity is important, there is a fundamental split among the owners, and decertification of the union is not imminent. 

To underscore that solidarity, the NBPA distributed gray t-shirts, featuring a silhouette image of basketball players above the word "STAND" in yellow block letters. More than 30 players wore the t-shirts and stood behind Hunter and Fisher as they addressed reporters in an adjacent press conference room.

"We had a very colorful and engaging meeting today," Fisher began. "We are together. We are unified. There is not a fracture and a separation amongst our group that in some ways has been reported. We want to continue to reiterate that point."

Despite some players expressing frustration at the lack of progress in the ongoing negotiations between the NBA and NBPA, Hunter said that frustration didn't rear its head in Thursday's meeting.

"I don't get the kind of negative feedback that I get from some of the articles that you guys write," Hunter said.

Roughly 35 NBA players attended the meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and was expected to last at least 75 minutes, adjourned around 1:30 p.m. Attendance estimates presented earlier in the week were nearly double the number of players who actually showed up.

"There's no disappointment in the number," Fisher said, noting that 90 percent of the players who are competing in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series attended Thursday's meeting.

Those who did attend were greeted by a presentation from National Football League Players Association negotiator DeMaurice Smith, who was reportedly invited by Fisher. Smith hurriedly left the meeting at 11:30 a.m. and refused to comment to the media assembled, citing another engagement. Hunter said Smith provided some thoughts on his experience handling the NFL's labor dispute and noted that he cautioned the NBA players that decertification of the union is not a "silver bullet" and that the "real key is solidarity." 

Hunter also wanted to make one point crystal clear: "We did not talk about decertification as a strategy." He did say the NBPA presented "a full disclosure" of the facts and circumstances surrounding a potential decertification but that it was simply a part of the education process and not a tactic or plan.

Fisher maintained that any player agents who were hoping to push the decertification issue or undermine the union's executive committee will not succeed.

"Any statements or agendas that are being pushed by groups, they don't have a way in as long as we stand shoulder to shoulder," Fisher said.

With decertification apparently tabled, at best, the so-called "blood issues" for the players remain unchanged.

"We've been clear on a few main points which are, in a sense, nonnegotiable," Fisher told reporters after the main press conference adjourned. "We're not going to sign a deal if they include a hard salary cap, if they include a limitation on exceptions and guaranteed contracts, those are things we just cannot and will not sign off on."

Asked whether he thought the 30 NBA owners were united in a willingness to sacrifice a season in general and to sacrifice a season over the institution of a hard cap, Fisher was clear.

"No. Not even close. Nowhere near 30 teams and 30 owners. [Less than half], in my opinion. Obviously, I'm not in the room when they take votes but in my opinion there are not as many teams and owners as people would think that are interested in throwing away a season over a hard cap issue. I think [deputy commissioner] Adam Silver and commissioner [David] Stern have even said it themselves. If we can find a way to find some common ground on economics, they don't see throwing away a season over the system. And so that's the way we've attacked the matter. If we can get into a range where the economics are acceptable for both sides, the system will stay where it is."

As far as a timeline, Fisher would not confirm specific next step plans but said he hoped talks with the owners would begin next week, noting that the players are ready to continue the process. Hunter also noted that he expects to hear back from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the union's complaint that the NBA is not negotiating in good faith "within the next three weeks or so." 

Until then, the message is simple: keep negotiating whenever possible, and wait.

"The resolve is strong," Hunter concluded. "This is still early in the game, nobody has lost any paychecks. That doesn't happen until November 16. There's still time to get a deal."


Since: Mar 10, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:46 am

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

If you work a normal job with a normal salary (less than $100,000 per year), YOU ARE THE REASON FOR THE LOCKOUT. Can't wait for all of you to rip my head off for this one, but here goes...

I really like basketball. I play almost every day at a local gym and I don't mind saying that my game isn't half bad compared to the other thirty-something-year-old working stiffs I play against. And I've been a fan of the NBA for a long time - at least 25 years. I've been to half a dozen games live, listened to or watched hundreds more, and I have one jersey of a favorite player hanging in my closet. 

But I can tell you I'm fed up. And I'm insulted. And it's MY fault. This isn't the players or the owners fault. It's yours and it's mine. Honestly, doesn't anybody but me look at professional athletes and think, "Wow. Kobe made more in a quarter of a game of basketball than I'll make this entire year - bonuses included?" If you made $150,000 per year for 35 years, you would make a TOTAL of $5.25 million over the course of your working career. Kobe will make more than five times that this year, not including endorsements. Because he's a great ball player. Don't get me wrong, he's a helluva ball player. But it makes my blood boil more all the time that people who matter most in this world get paid the least.

Look, I know that most of these athletes are physically gifted, and that it takes more than a modicum of intelligence, study and work to master the game of basketball at a world-class level. But is that worth $30 million a year for one guy, plus his endorsements?  Again, I'm not blaming the players or the owners or anybody who makes money in the entertainment business (that's what it is, by the way. Professional sports are the heart and soul of the entertainment business). Because I'm the idiot who paid $175 each for two fifth row seats to watch the Jazz beat the Wizards by 20. I'm the moron who turns on the TV and gives 2 1/2 hours of my life away to watch a game multiple times per season. And I'm the guy who walked into the store in the mall and laid down $80 for a jersey. 

I'm also the same guy who complains that education in my state isn't as good as it could be. How can it be, when my state pays less than $30,000 per year to a beginning teacher? (YOU CAN MAKE MORE THAN THAT AT TACO-FREAKING-BELL.) I'm also the guy who gets fired up when my insurance co-pay goes up from $25 to $35 for a doctor visit, or that my mechanic's hourly shop rate is $75. But I paid $350 to go to a Jazz game with my wife and was giddy about it - what a privilege to see these guys in person! 

Can't you see that this lockout is my fault?

If you work a normal job for honest pay, it's my opinion that you should be insulted by professional athletes AND the owners. I love me some basketball, but I can tell you that the NBA will never get another of my dollars. I work too hard, and have worked too hard to fuel this ungodly fire of greed, entitlement and complete disconnection from reality with even one more cent.


Since: Jul 9, 2011
Posted on: September 17, 2011 12:31 am

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

Get a deal done.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:04 am

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

I disagree that the league can't go on without the players...or that the owners will go broke without them. It's clearly the other way around. Maybe there aren't enough Math majors among the players...You can live on billions longer than millions, folks...and those franchises are separate business entities that can go belly up without touching the personal wealth of the owners...while the players get their houses, bling and 12 cars re-possessed.

How many NBA eligible players are there each YEAR, that aren't already in the NBA ? More than ARE in the NBA, for sure... and owners made their money outside of basketball, and can continue to do so...the players didn't and can't. How many NBA eligible owners are there ? You see them... plus a few billionaires that MIGHT invest in a team if their players weren't 7 digit guarenteed risks.

It doesn't matter if the owners are split - they can't function with half a league, and don't have to. Contraction is a no-brainer, and there are more cuts coming.

Ask the millions of unemployed Auto workers if businesses can't go on without employees with impossible Union demands.

The terminology from the NBPA "non-negotiable"
; is ridiculously empty handed. Prevous legal precendent says pro franchise owners can't have collusion to price fix, but it doesn't say they have to go bankrupt paying players guaranteed contracts either. If the NBPA won't agree, the owners can consider them resigned, ignore the union,and sign other players that will play for acceptable contract conditions. There are plenty that will.  

Hardball ? What if the NBA enforced the "good behavior" clauses in contracts, and required players to pass a physical to get their full contracts (like the NFL), including 100% drug testing for all illegal or performance enhancing drugs (like MLB) ? That would create a few openings, and cancelled contracts, huh ? 

The players can try to play overseas, but of course the NBA could draw from there too, under non-NBPA agreements, excluding the NBPA members.  No way Europe, China or South America can compete for salary and endorsement money, not to mention the softer judicial system and cultural benefits, here in the U.S. Some players would be fine on what they've already made. Most would be back in no time. 

Where else is the 9th best basketball player on the team going to make $5 mil a year ? Put down the crack pipe and go back to work, morons.

Since: Jan 23, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:41 pm

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

Roughly 35 were at the meeting and more then 30 wore the t-shirts. You are looking into it too much probably every player was behind them wearing the t-shirts.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:08 pm

NBPA preaches resolve, patience in Vegas meeting

Maybe nit-picking but if 35 players attended and 30 stood behind Hunter in the press conference it can be inferred that about 5 players were not in unity. That is a significant percentage. At a meeting like this each player has to be concerned with his peers' view of him if he takes a contrary view. That does not mean that they are on board.

If hard cap, exceptions and guaranteed contracts are non-negotiable then the opposite position on the hard cap and some exceptions appear to be non-negotiable to the owners (although they have never said so). By saying an issue is non-negotiable isn't that saying they are not bargaining in good faith? Is anyone else tired of the term non-negotiable?
Hunter is battling a split in the membership over decertification. The largest agents want that action and they represent a large percentage of the membership. So the discussion about decertification was about strategy but apparently predominately why they should not take that action. At this point there seems to be agreement that games are going to be lost. The owners have said that in that event all offers are off the table. We seem to have come to the critical point.

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: September 15, 2011 7:39 pm

Hold Out!

demaurice needs to pass on the same strategy he used with the billionaire nfl owners---hold out and force the owners to pay all the money the players deserve.  without the superstars, the league can't operate and make money.

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