Tag:NBPA
Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:24 pm
 

Billy Hunter: Players could form own league

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association disbanded so that it could file antritrust lawsuits against the NBA, charging the league with an illegal boycott. By Wednesday, its executive director, Billy Hunter, was publicly raising the possibility that the players could form their own professional basketball league independent of the NBA.

Writer Toure reports that Hunter addressed the possibility during a panel discussion.
Billy Hunter: "The season is not yet on life support. There's still time to put on an abbreviated season... The players decision to blow up the union [decertify] was unanimous. They were high-fiving, sayin let's get it on! ... The owners are scared of Lebron style movement and want to keep players wedded to franchises.... Maybe we can start our own league. There are facilities where we can do that. Can't play at MSG but can play at St John's... There’s talk of getting a TV deal and creating a new league but it’d have to be with a network that’s unafraid to cross the NBA."
Not to overuse legal phrases because we're stuck in this quagmire of lawyers, but the burden of proof is on the players -- whether that's as individuals, a group, a union or a trade association -- to show that they can organize -- not to mention profit from -- anything besides one-off exhibition games. Since the lockout went into effect in July, the NBA's biggest stars have criss-crossed the country for charity and drawn crowds of varying sizes along the way. When big draws like LeBron James and Kevin Durant were involved, there was hardly an empty seat.

But when the players have attempted to put together anything larger in scale, it hasn't worked from an economics perspective. There was the entertaining Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas, which drew dozens of players for two weeks of competitive 5-on-5 action. It also drew dozens of fans, literally, and never came close to selling out a gym that seats 500 people. There was also a globetrotting world tour that was expected to feature every big name star imaginable; that fizzled completely before the first stop, a visit to nearby Puerto Rico, could get off the ground.

Forming their own league -- however loosely you want to define that term -- is much more difficult than it sounds. The personnel infrastructure to support it, the buildings to house it, the sponsors to help pay for it, the television network to broadcast it: all of those are major, difficult questions that would need to be answered. Those answers would take precious time too.

A players' league is not impossible but it's also not particularly probable. The players would wind up playing, and risking injury, for a small fraction of their NBA salaries.

Hunter likely floats the idea here because he must appear totally serious about the players' antitrust lawsuits against the league. Even though most expect the lawsuits to lead to more negotiations rather than a years-long legal battle, Hunter has to at least pay lip service to the possibility of an alternative professional basketball reality without the NBA. Unfortunately, much like the decision to issue the disclaimer of interest, forming a league is something that he should have been planning carefully months ago if he felt a protracted legal battle was a real possibility. There's no reason that NBA All-Stars shouldn't be putting on a 10-city goodwill tour throughout December, entertaining fans and applying pressure on the negotiations along the way.

Instead, more players are heading overseas and Hunter continues to talk about future possibilities that will likely never come to fruition. Everybody loses. 

Hat tip: Slam Online 
Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Andreychuk: NBA players should cave

By Matt Moore 

Always good to have the support and solidarity of your peers. 

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Dave Andreychuk, former NHL player and current Tampa Bay Lightning executive about the NHL lockout that busted an entire season with the owners getting the same kind of reset the NBA owners are now aiming for. Andreychuk says that standing up for your profession just isn't worth it. Because you'll lose anyway. 
"If players think its better to sit out the season, let me tell you, its not. Its just not," Andreychuk says. "In the end, it will be worse."

"As the pressure built — after a month, two months, three months — it started to sink in," recalls Andreychuk, now a team executive with the Lightning. "Guys were saying to themselves, Im 25 years old and hockey is how I make my living. We need to get a deal done. "

"The deal got worse by us sitting out," Andreychuk admits. "At the end, we were so willing to sign, we had to agree to what the owners wanted. We gave back a tremendous amount just to get a deal done so we could go back to work."
via NBA Lockout: Former NHL player Dave Andreychuk tells current NBA players: Sitting out the season will only make it worse - OrlandoSentinel.com.

Pretty uncool statements from one former player to another. But his point that the players are going to lose anyway, that's the reason so many people were urging the players to at least return the offer with modifications instead of disclaiming interest or decertifying. The players have put themselves in a position where if they don't win a court decision, several of them consecutively, actually, or if the threat thereof does not spook the owners, they'll lose everything. They'll have their collective bargaining heads caved in when they recertify to approve the deal.

But still, you'd think that a player that has been down that road that has fought that battle would at least publicly support another professional athlete. Maybe  Maybe he and Michael Jordan can go bowling and talk about what it's like to bail on your former colleagues. 

It's not that Andreychuk's wrong. He's not wrong. He's right. He just shouldn't say it. Then again, apparently no one else is talking straight to the players about what their situation is. 

(HT: SI.com
Posted on: November 16, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 12:05 am
 

Report: NBA owners to talk strategy on Thursday

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

OK, they sued us. Now what?

Yahoo Sports reports that the NBA's owners are ready to start planning their response to the disbanding of the National Basketball Players Association and two subsequent antritrust lawsuits filed by the players against the league earlier this week.
After lawyers for NBA players filed antitrust suits against the league in California and Minnesota, commissioner David Stern has a conference call set with owners on Thursday to discuss their next steps in the lockout, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The NBA’s labor relations committee, which is responsible for negotiations with the players, scheduled the call earlier in the week, sources said.
One goal of the antitrust lawsuits was to create leverage for the players by bringing in the possibility of massive legal damages. The idea was that the legal filings might compel the owners to return to the bargaining table, this time negotiating with the players' new lawyers, with a more open mind and a willingness to offer concessions. 

With the players missing their first paychecks on Tuesday and a January drop-dead date for saving a season, though, time will be the major factor in the owners' decision-making process, at least in the short-term.

Having essentially achieved $3 billion in revenue concessions and a host of system changes that are expected to ensure profitability, the owners would be foolish to walk away from the bargaining table for the foreseeable future simply because of the legal maneuverings the players made this week. Talks should, and almost certainly will, continue in some form prior to the NBA being forced to shut down its season. 

The question for the owners becomes: When is the best time to get back to negotiating? After the players miss one paycheck? After they miss two paychecks? After the league is forced to cancel Christmas games so that the panic level and reality of the situation sets in? For the hard-line contingent, there's no rush. For the owners who want to play, getting the ball rolling in the short term would make sense. Remember, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said "30 to 40" additional B-list issues still need to be agreed upon even if the two sides can reach a compromise on the revenue split and the outstanding system issues that led to this week's breakdown.

There are hours of talks ahead for these two sides. Thursday's meeting could provide an answer as to when those talks will begin taking place.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:08 pm
 

After disclaiming, players on sticky territory

By Matt Moore 

The NBPA is dead. Long live the NBPA. But now that the union has disclaimed interest and decided to pursue litigation independently as players and not a union, what does that actually mean? We spoke with labor relations and litigation expert Steve Luckner of Coughlin Duffy to try and make sense of all this dissolving nonsense. 

What did the NBPA need to do to dissolve the union by disclaiming interest versus decertifying? 

In short, Luckner says, say so.  "The primary benefit is speed," Luckner says, "When you have a decertification the players have to vote and it takes place before the NLRB it's a time thing. By disclaiming, they just need to get the player reps to vote to do so, then notify the league." The remnants of the NBPA will also have to file with the Department of Labor and the IRS, but those elements do not have to be completed prior to gaining status as having disclaimed. They said they were disclaiming interest, and there they have. 

Avoiding the 45-day waiting period in-between now and an NLRB rulling which would have been necessary for the players under decertification allows them to pursue litigation faster, which is their primary objective. A fast resolution through the courts or the bargaining table is key for this now-non-collective that doesn't have unlimited funds to survive with the loss of paychecks.

What are the impacts of disclaiming interest?

We touched on the litigation aspect in detail on Tuesday. But Luckner adds that there are some tertiary elements of the dissolution. The organization formerly known as the NBPA no longer has the abilty to regulate agents, and it cannot file grievances on behalf of players.  The assumption with disclaiming is that you intend to do so for as long as you want, but the common thought is that once the lockout ends, the union will reform for precisely these functions. If they were not to do so, they would be unable to file such grievances as their case on behalf of Latrell Sprewell, Ron Artest, or Gilbert Arenas. That's not a power the players want to lose, most likely. 

SI.com notes that the agents angle is interesting because player poaching could become an issue in this new wild, wild west the players find themselves in. There's no governing body ruling over player or agent matters, and as such, anything goes. 

What's the "sham" argument?

 So the NBPA has decertified, washed its hands of itself. It no longer represents the players. And yet Billy Hunter is on the legal team along with David Boies, filing suit on behalf of Carmelo Anthony, Leon Powe, Kevin Durant, and others, all on different teams. Furthermore, every legal expert CBSSports.com has spoken with has regarded this move as a negotiating tactic, with Boies even telling reporters including Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the goal is to settle this in negotiation. At that point, most everyone assumes that just like the NFLPA, the NBPA will reform. 

Due to these circumstances, one area the league will attempt to attack the players' litigation is by claiming this is a "sham" disclaimer of interest. In short, they're still acting like a union, they're still planning on being a union, they're just saying they're not a union right now.

There has not been a clear precedent on whether a. intent is a matter to consider when regarding decertification or disclaimer of interest, nor b. whether disclaim of interest/decertification is a "light switch" you can flip on and off. Luckner says it's unlikely the court will argue with the first element. 

"I don't see the court necessarily attacking the players' motivation," Luckner says, but he adds "while holding them to the letter of the law."

Holding them to the letter of the law means the union cannot act as a regulator on behalf of the players. They've washed their hands, so they have to be fine if the players get their hands dirty. One possible ramification of the the disclaimer of interest is that players and the league can negotiate independently. Technically speaking, the players or owners could make a deal with the other side, just to sign themselves. That's obviously not going to happen, on either side. But as paychecks dwindle, Luckner notes that players could get desperate to regain their paychecks or in pursuit of playing in their short career window.  

The trick here becomes when the National Basketball Trade Association, or whatever loose organization that is coordinating the players' legal efforts attempt to corral those players. In that case, if discovered, the court would hold the liable parties in violation of the disclaimer. In short, if you're going to say you're not a union, you can't act like one. The league's response will be to challenge the disclaimer of interest itself, saying it doesn't matter if the union says it's not a union if it's still acting like a union.

These are just a handful of issues facing the players and the league with this course of action. It's messy, and complicated, and issues and rebuttals and motions will stack on top of each other and take months to sort out. Meanwhile more games are canceled and we continue to wait to see if reason enters anywhere into this conversation. 
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:55 am
 

What's it about, Herb Kohl?

By Matt Moore 

Herb Kohl is one of the owners who has pushed for the proposals that have resulted in the ongoing NBA lockout, according to multiple reports. The popular narrative goes as follows: small-market owners are tired fo being doormats and losing money on their teams so they want a system that guarantees profitability and levels the playing field for them to compete with the Lakers and Celtics of the world. There's a lot of variation in that depending on who you talk to (for example, Ted Leonsis who owns the Washington D.C. Wizards is one such "small-market" owner), but that's the basic storyline being told by many of the reports. 

If Kohl is on that side of the fence, though, it's a stunning reversal from public statements he's made in the past regarding what it means to own the Bucks. From Bucks blog Bucksketball:
“I’m not in this business to make any annual profits,” Kohl said after dismissing General Manager Larry Harris in 2008. “The value of the asset fortunately has appreciated over the years. On an annual basis, it’s a money-losing proposition. I’m in it because I love the sport, I love the competition and I love winning.”

At what point does our current reality, the reality that has connected Kohl with a group of owners now looking to tip the basketball related income scales heavily in their favor while making other radical system changes, contrast with Kohl’s traditional motives that don’t involve making money, rather just competing and keeping the team he loves in Milwaukee?
via Herb Kohl’s actions may be betraying his words |.

Bucksketball notes that in the past, Kohl has been a staunch supporter of an increase in revenue sharing, citing MLB's model.  So you can more easily understand this position than the caricature image of billionaire owners' gigantic maws trying to devour everything in existance. It's not unreasonable to want to be able to compete when you are at a disadvantage. You can argue the merits of whether or not good teams in big markets that make huge profits should have to share with their brethren, but this is at least something fans can agree with.

But then, as always, there's the money.

In that above quote, Kohl says he's not in this business to make any annual profits. And that's right decent of him. Having owners that just want to win for themselves and the fans really should be what professional sports, and in particular the NBA, is about. If you're trying to make a lot of money by owning an NBA team, to borrow a phrase, you're doing it wrong. That's not the path. So why then the revenue split tactics? Why shake the players down for 50/50 BRI or lower?

Furthermore, why isn't this an internal issue with the league? If you're looking to change the system, change the system. The players at any point after, say, August would happily have granted systemic changes in exchange for the BRI cut back. And a better revenue sharing system, a legitimate one that actually accounts for the unfathomable riches that come with each team's independent television deal, would more than have at least started the teams on the way back to profitability.

But again, we ask. What's this about, profitability or competitive balance? The league wants to maintain that it's about both. But in reality, what the NBA really needs is for its owners to decide a vision for their own ownership and stick with it.  
Posted on: November 15, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Hunter:Players to file antitrust suit against NBA

By Matt Moore 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the players' legal proceedings against the league will begin:



This comes as no surprise based on what we've already reported. Players' attorney David Boies told reporters the suit will challenge the lockout as an "illegal boycott." The players signed as plaintiffs in the case will be Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe, and Kawhi Leonard. Boies joked the case will be filed in Northern California due to a "fondness for Oakland" from Billy Hunter, then followed by saying it was because it's expected to help with expediency, and in reality, because the district is known to be union-favorable. You can expect the league to file to move the case to the 2nd circuit in New York, where they filed their original suit against the players pre-emptively. 

Boies also told reporters that they would not be asking for an injunction, but a summary judgement instead. Boies said the collective bargaining process "absolutely had ended" which is more coverage against the league's assertion that the disclaimer of interest filed by the NBPA is a "sham" used as a tactic in negotiations. The players are asking for treble damages, which would mean triple the amount of whatever monetary amount the players ascertain they are owed due to the lockout.

Boies said it is possible to get a summary judgment before the cancelation of the season, but also said that the goal is to resolve it out of court. Which you have to wonder how that's going to affect the sham argument. 

Players also filed suit in Minnesota, the same district that the NFL case was fought in, according to Boies, with more possible. Plaintiffs included Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams and Caron Butler. The Minnesota complaint can be read in its entirety online here. It's a barrage of lawsuits, essentially. Boies said that the California suit will include David Stern's ultimatum regarding a reversion to a more conservative offer from the league if the 50/50 proposal was rejected. Boies said "That's not collective bargaining."
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 6:12 pm
 

NBA Lockout: Games

By Matt Moore 

We never thought it would come this. We always knew it would come to this.

It became pretty apparent during the lockout that this was not two geniuses of chess eying each other over a board and carefully maneuvering their pieces in a symphony of strategy. No, this was drunken toddlers flinging chess pieces across the room while they swung their hands down. And each game the owners would win, they'd smash the board and scream "MOAR! MOAR WINS!" And each time the players would lose they'd cry and kick and smash the boar dand scream "No fair!" as if their daddy was going to come in and rescue them.

But surely they couldn't be stupid enough to let it come to this, right?

Of course they were stupid enough to let it come to this.

The owners backed the players into a corner. They bullied and shoved and strong-armed their way into getting nearly everything they could reasonably expect to win. Then they demanded more. They put the players in a terrible position, forced against the wall, no escape, with only one round in their chamber.

And the players summarily blew their own head off.

It is an opera, really. A dramatic interpretation of two clowns trying so hard to fight one another they knock themselves out. Only no one's laughing. It would be funny, if there weren't lost jobs, careers forever altered, and an outright disgust for both sides and their inability to corral their extremist contingents. At some point you have to tell the children in the room to sit down, shut up, and behave. Instead, both sides said "Oh, are you upset? Here, why don't you drive the car. No, we don't have insurance, why do you ask?"

The reason smart analysts like Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Chris Sheridan, and other continued to say "no, the season won't be canceled, they'll get a deal" is they were so close, it wasn't worth blowing everything up over it. At least one side will come to their senses, was the thought. But it never happened. The players had the opportunity, knowing the deal was close enough to being swallowable, no matter how bad it tasted, to meet on it. So did they vote? No. Did they send the proposal back, approved, with a series of contingent amendments, to put the pressure back on the league and keep the process going? No. Did they ignore the threat and continue to say they were ready to negotiate? No. Any of those actions would have meant the players had a handle on themselves and understood the whole board, understood that they weren't going to see a better deal than this regardless of their action. But that's not what they did.

Instead, they opted for a disclaimer of interest. Not the decertification the union proposed, but this route. Faster, riskier, in pursuit of a summary judgment that is unlikely to come. They decided they'd had enough of this bully and it was time to fight back!

Except this isn't junior high. And they're still going to lose.

Maybe the owners really will fear the awesome might of a lawsuit which, in order to have any effectiveness, would take two to three years to finish through the appeals system and which most legal experts don't think they have a great chance of winning. A chance? Sure. A good one? Eeehh, future is hazy, check back later. Maybe the court really will side with them, and then have whateve result comes out last during the appeals process, and then win the appeal, setting the precedent in a case with far-reaching implications in a matter over professional sports. And if that happens, this will have turned out to have been... well, still a phenomenally stupid move, but they'll have treble damages to play with while the league burns to the ground.

But the more likely scenario is that they've blown up a season, cost themselves that money, blown their chance at BRI above 50 percent, blown their chance at avoiding a hard cap or flex cap and only managed to put more money in the hands of their lawyers. I'm not a legal expert, that's just the impression I've been given by them. There are ways out of this. But considering how complex they are and the two sides' inability to solve simple issues, it doesn't look good.

Don't be confused into thinking this is some sort of sole finger-pointing at the players. They didn't start this fire. They didn't lock themselves out. They didn't make outrageous demands. And they're right that they've made concession after concession. The owners will say they've made concessions, but their original position was never reasonable. Conceding insanity in order to justify advocating for foolishness doesn't make you any less nuts. The owners did this. The players just responded to short-sighted idiocy with more short-sighted idiocy.

And on, and on.

There was no vote yesterday, no consideration of the deal which a lot of rank-and-file players would have accepted. Those 30 reps didn't speak with with all the players they were meant to. And something happened to scare the living bejeezus out of them into voting "unanimously" to disclaim interest. Maybe it was Jeffrey Kessler, who seems to be getting an awful lot of publicity out of this whole ordeal he wouldn't have gotten if there was a deal. Maybe it was Billy Hunter, trying to steer the conversation away from this abject failure in leadership during these negotiations in order to reaffirm his position and save his salary once this ends. Maybe it was the agents, though that's unlikely given their reaction to yesterday's debacle.

But instead there was the grenade pin pulled in the alleyway knife fight, and now everybody dies. The union is dead, the lawyers are running the show, the league's not backing down because they don't have to, and the players aren't entirely sure of what they just did.

And as always, you, the fans, lose.

We never thought it would come to this.

We always knew it would come to this.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:27 am
 

Sports law expert: NBA season can still be saved

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

On Monday, the National Basketball Players Association sent the NBA a disclaimer of interest, folding up the union and turning the keys over to lawyers. It was a move that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter admitted would lead to a "high probability" that the 2011-2012 season, and NBA commissioner David Stern replied to the action by saying that the league was headed for a "nuclear winter."

But all hope is not lost.

Sports law expert and Tulane professor Gabe Feldman told the Orlando Sentinel that the legal process the NBPA is heading for could be wrapped up quickly enough to save at least some portion of the 2011-2012 regular season, which has already seen its first six weeks canceled.
OS: So is the ultimate upshot here that a season is now much less likely after today’s events?

I don’t know that it’s “much less likely.” I just think that the upshot here is that the players have taken a significant step to try to gain leverage at the bargaining table and the upshot is that the season will certainly not start as quickly as it would have without the disclaimer.

But it doesn’t mean that the season won’t happen. I think a much more shortened season is an inevitability at this point. But the litigation process could take place quickly enough to allow the players and the owners to determine how much leverage they have. It wouldn’t mean an entire antitrust lawsuit is litigated because that could take years. But the preliminary fights could take place in a manner of weeks and could be resolved in time to save part of the regular season.

Folks have discussed this as the “nuclear option,” and David Stern himself has said we’re in for a “nuclear winter.” It’s not irreparable harm here. They can put the pieces back together in time to save the season.
NBA commissioner David Stern labeled the disclaimer a "negotiating tactic" in his Monday morning address, so everyone seems to agree that it's a move with legal as well as posturing implications.

But when will the legal stuff start playing out? That remains an open question.

David Boies, new counsel for the NBA players, said Monday that no official lawsuit had yet been filed and seemed to imply, in a question and answer session with ESPN.com, that there might not be one forthcoming.
If -- and I say if because first of all, we haven't filed a lawsuit -- a lawsuit were filed, but if a lawsuit were filed and if there was an interest in settling that lawsuit, then as Jeffrey says, what would happen is the lawyers for the players would meet the lawyers for the owners and we would try to come up with some kind of settlement. 

That settlement would be something that would open up the league to play. But you would not have a collective bargaining solution. 
In other words, we all sit and wait until the players make this thing official. Our lockout purgatory is now in a purgatory of its own. Exponential legal purgatory is about as far from basketball as one can imagine and as deflating as it gets.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com