Morning-after lockout roundup: NBA union is very, very angry

NEW YORK — Good morning. Hope you got some sleep. I didn’t get much, and I imagine Jeffrey Kessler didn’t either.

Kessler, the lead outside counsel for NBA players (he performs the same role for NFL players) was practically foaming at the mouth in the wee hours of the a.m. after David Stern and Derek Fisher had conducted their respective news conferences in the most diplomatic tones they could muster. The moment Fisher left the room, Kessler started venting. Loudly. And he didn’t let up for a good 15-20 minutes.

The owners, Kessler said, had been the ones who brought an abrupt halt to the proceedings. After 3 weeks of preconditions that were levied and then removed and then levied and removed again, the owners circled back to basically the same place they have been all along while giving the players a take-it-or-leave-it offer that for all intents and purposes would max out at 50.2 percent of revenues going to the players, 49.8 percent going to the owners.

The players had dropped to 51 percent, or as Kessler termed it: “Fifty plus one,” with the extra one percent ($40 million) being earmarked for improved pension benefits for both current and retired players.

“These are professional basketball players,’’ Kessler said. “They are the finest athletes in the world. How do you think they feel about threats? How do you think they feel about efforts at intimidation? Who negotiates in good faith when they say it’s this proposal or (back to) 47 percent? Take it or leave it. This is not good faith to the fans. ‘’

Big, bad Michael Jordan had become Paul Allen 2.0 during the meeting, Kessler said, barely uttering a word.

Arbitrator George Cohen’ suggestions, Kessler said, had been hijacked by Stern and turned into the owners’ official offer. The money quote from my news story, after the 8 1/2 hours of meetings and 60 minutes of dueling news conferences had ended: “The story here is they want it all,” Kessler bellowed. “They want a win, win, win, win. We wanted a compromise. Our 51 percent offer was based on a fair system. They would have to come to us on the system, but they did not.”

So although the sides are close on the money, they are not close on what is fair and what is unfair. And now comes the waiting (until Wednesday, when the owners say their offer will expire), and the fallout.

Let’s have a looksee around the Web to see how this story is evolving:

Ben Golliver of “On Saturday, as labor talks between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association were winding down, at least three NBA players took to Twitter to express their frustration with Jordan. 
“I’m not wearing Jordans no more,” Washington Wizards guard Nick Young said. “Can’t believe what I just seen and heard from MJ. Elvis Done Left The Building.” “Damn MJ,” Indiana Pacers guard Paul George wondered aloud. “That’s how you feel?” Later, Golden State Warriors rookie wing Klay Thompson replied to George: “You think the 1996 MJ would pull this? Straight hypocrite bro.” George agreed: “Man straight hypocrite bro.. He should’ve been the 1st one behind us smh.”

Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley, via Twitter: ” I understand y’all made and frustrated and you want players to accept this offer/ trust me we want to accept a deal but this is not it.”

Besiktas/New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, via Twitter: “I’ve been ready to sign a decertification petition since July? Can’t believe we are just now going this route! SMH.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter:  Let me say this: I have a hard time believing Stern and the owners are willing to blow up the season on November 9th. … To my tweet NBA wouldn’t blow up season on Nov. 9, source briefed on owners’ meeting Saturday texts: “The hardliners have control and will.” … Here’s what I think this comes down to by Wednesday for the Players Association: Accept deal, or decertify union and blow up season. … Veteran player who has long been on side of decertification just texted me: “Time to blow this (bleep) to the moon.”

David Aldridge of NBA-TV and Turner Sports, via Twitter:  “Just heard from source in contact with owners: “Stern does not have the votes above 50 & he is trying to find a way to make it acceptable”.



  1. joanne rowe says

    If the union is forced to decertify ,they should tell the owners that the only way they will come back to the table is that they keep the same deal ,take it or leave it.Those pimps would not have a dime of NBA money if it wasn’t for the players,they get 700 million off the top for operational cost ,so you can say that the players pay all the bills now they want to cut into the BRI this is a bunch of bull and the players no it .

  2. badax33 says

    This is the way I see the lockout, I don’t agree with either side, I don’t know who it right or wrong – probably neither side – it’s just nature of negotations. But here’s the deal IMO. The owners feel they got fleeced under the last CBA, even though they initiated the locking out and then agreed to the recently expired CBA. The owners want major changes and communicated this to the union over the past 2 years, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. The owners talk about wanting to make a profit and better competition. Both seem valid points to me. When Stern talks he make sense, whether you believe him or not. All we get from the players is rhetoric. I think the players union should hire Mike Tyson as their spokesman – that’s how ineffective and infomative they’ve been. The players just keep repeating the same refrain – 50+/-% whatever isn’t fair, but don’t elaborate. IT AINT FAIR !IT AINT FAIR! IT AINT FAIR!

    The players lost their chances for a better deal by allowing the lockout to start and drag on. NBAPA could have agreed at 52 with minor/major system changes prior to the lockout. But they failed to understand the owners resolve in wanting a new system and to make a profit. Now, the small market teams have become a solid block (13-14 teams) and assumed control of the NBA’s strategy. I think, players drank their own coolaid by not believing that the owners were losing money. I don’t know if that was true or not but that’s their claim and the players response is that we don’t agree with their numbers is again rhetoric (and less than informative). Then the players refrain was why should we guarantee the teams a profit. That’s very valid, but if so, why should the player’s contracts be guaranteed!!!! It should work both ways. I think, another point the players should have realized is that the owners are WILLING to spend on their teams. Even though at times reckless, it would have behooved the players to recognize this fact and work with them.

    Here’s the clincher, the money the players are losing can never be recouped. They have a finite career; whereas, the owners can recoup their losses by getting a better deal and amortizing the loses over 3-4-5 years or even longer. Further, it’s a doubly advantageous for the owners, if the team become profitable, the value of their team will most likely skyrocket. Next, if players salaries are tied to the BRI, and the season is cancelled, I can’t see any way that the BRI will increase but will decrease and it will take 2-5 seasons to recover to current levels. That hurts the players in the pocketbook again. Lastly, I see the players losing millions and millions of endorsement dollars that will go to other sports stars, personalities or other advertising venues.

    I just don’t understand what the NBAPA is thinking. What’s their stategy. Oh, I know, “That ain’t fair!!!

    Lastly, if the players don’t concede by Wed COB the season is DEAD!

    That’s the way I see it.

    • badax33 says

      One quick note –
      The real losers in this BS are the people who depend on the NBA for their living. And that living is not a 6, 7 or 8 figure and guarnateed contract. And in the economic environment it is probably disasterous to them.

    • S. Sebastian says

      You are on the money. It makes me wonder who is advising them, crunching numbers, etc. If they don’t get their heads in this game quickly, they will regret their choices for a long time.

  3. says

    So much of this annoys me. Is it ever possible to know what’s truly going on behind the scenes, in terms of the minutae? Can we get a truly dedicated reporter with connections and access to find out why the owners are working so hard to sabotage the NBA? The players have already made enough concessions to pull the owners that were in the red back into the blue – or whatever non-red color you prefer. Are there owners who are using their NBA teams as tax havens of some sort, or other somewhat shady business dealings to help out their main holdings in other areas? Are they laundering money, and so need wider profit margins? What the !@#! is going on!???

      • says

        too many assumptions. since when do owners need to talk to reporters for them to find information??? If that were the case, then nothing undesirable would ever come out…y’know? I’m thinking an independent investigation and possible unmasking of motivations…I have no idea how to go about it since I’m not a reporter or anything other than a basketball fan with loads of college work; it would just be nice for some investigative work above and beyond what is being done, if possible

  4. Andrea (Italy) says

    Alright, seriously now, the players association needs to swallow its pride and shut up. In my opinion the offer the NBA made is fair. Sure, it may not be the best to many but it’s still fair if you ask me. Take it and shut up now. Under this proposal NBA players would still remain, on average, the highest paid athletes in sports….How could you even have the courage to walk away from that, talk about decertification, which would probably mean the end of any hope of having a 2011-12 season, not to mention a MUCH, MUCH worse offer than this one? And spare me the bloggers and columnists’ general idiocy defending the players and calling the owners bullies. You just can’t do that when those athletes would still remain the highest paid athletes in sports. I’m not buying your argument anymore, no matter how you slice it.

    I’d love to see players being allowed to vote on this proposal. I’m sure many of them would approve it, but obviously the ego of Fisher, Hunter, Kessler etc. wouldn’t allow that. They know that this proposal could pass one way or another, if players were ever allowed to that.

    • JK says

      I think the players should stand firm…Owners are becoming way to greedy. First of all why do they think they should half of the proceeds from player jersey sales, etc. Nobody buys tickets to go see owners, nobody knows who owners are. The owners have deep pockets, and the players are trying to look out not only for themselves, as well as for those that are retired.

      I stand by the players

  5. dan says

    All the “insider”sources have been wrong so far. it is funny that these reporters keep getting info from their “sources”….so laughable.

    Season is over. Time for hockey folks !

    • Mark says

      The “insider sources” are likely agents. And of course this explains why there is little discussion on what is really going on.

      Last year, the players made clear that they would ban together to form super teams. The old system allowed three stars to join the same team and than the 5 million mid level exception (every other year) could fill in the rest. Clearly, the owners are trying to prevent the star players from holding the small markets hostage.

      • dan says

        we all know how and where the reporters get their info. Stern loses credibility if he backs down so either the union accepts the deal on the table with some tweaks or season is over.

        Drop the buck !

          • Mark says

            Dan: most of these reporters appear to be shills for the agents.

            If the players truly cared about the future of the NBA, wouldn’t they worry about the health of all the franchises. Currently, one team is run by the NBA. How are teams like Milwaukee and Charlotte doing financially? As I said, the players game plan was to have the stars join teams (see Boston, Miami, New York) and then add in the parts with the mid level exemption.

            It would be great to see a balanced point of view but I haven’t seen much of that to be honest.

    • says

      What are your sources, if I may ask? What players or agents or team management or league office personnel do you talk to?

      If you think the reporter’s sources are so bad, why do you even bother to read – let alone comment?

      You’re part of the problem with America. Instead of thinking about this type of thing logically and commenting objectively, saying perhaps that the sources aren’t 100% reliable and that we should all keep that in mind, you slander the entire process. That’s not helping anyone.

  6. S. Sebastian says

    The players keep using the word “fair”. They never seem to have a clearly articulate their next best alternative. They talk about about decertification as a tactic to force the owners to agree to a favorable deal, but they do not seem to have a clear idea of what decertification will do for them if it doesn’t work as a tactic. What is their expected outcome?

    If the players chose decertification, the league will be forced to cancel the season. The legal fees will skyrocket. The union will implode. Teams will declare bankruptcy and the league will reorganize eventually with a cost structure imposed by its owners. Michael Jordan will continue to make more money from endorsements. Billionaire owners will continue to be Billionaires.

    The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to win Super Bowls and few people will care that LeBron James didn’t win seven championships.

  7. DTaggart4800 says

    Are you serious paulpressey25?! Under the previous system owners had every opportunity to pay reasonably for talent, see Blazers, Donnie Walsh knicks prior to Melo, Spurs, Thunder, Memphis, Chicago. Entirely their own fault that they conducted POOR business as a result of rash unconsidered roster additions see Nuggets addition of Al Harrington.
    In all sports, big markets and historic franchises have and always will dominate the leagues. Irrelevant of implemented system.
    The Spurs had a fantastic run in this league as did the Pistons under the conditions of the outgoing CBA. However I would contest, entirely subjectively, that media and public fascination with the league grows when the big market teams are successful (Lakers-Boston Finals). It is a captivating story when teams such as Memphis make a run and contend and it is enthralling when they acheive the unthinkable but it would hurt the game if small market teams exchanged the trophy year on year.
    As an analogy look at golf, The British Open was won in 2005 at the home of golf by Tiger Woods, huge global coverage. 2010 Louis Oosthuizen wins, sarcastic tone, 3 people are mildly interested. Parity and competitiveness is worthless to the league and really a myth.
    Undoubtedly there are things that need tweaking but very little that needs reconstructing.

    • paulpressey25 says

      A lot of that big markets should always rule crap is just that, crap. The NFL is number one by a mile with a fair system, and don’t look behind you NBA, but the NHL is now prospering under their new CBA.

      This league is a lot different now than just two years ago so you can’t cite past precedent. In the past two years we’ve seen the players force their way to big market super teams. And the Lakers sign a massive new local tv deal.

      Going forward, if you keep the prior system in place, you’ll see the NBA in about 15 to 20 markets continue to wither and teams even in large population areas like Atlanta and New Jersey continue to play in front of empty arenas.

      I understand the NY, LA, Dallas and Miami fans want to keep all their system advantages. My question is what are you afraid of with a more level playing field?

      • illyb says

        I think you have a point, the system issues were real (to some extent) an definitely gave bigger markets the edge and first choice of signing FA talent. But it also kept the fans of the big markets rabid for NBA basketball. Thing is players just would cave on the system for the right BRI split and 50/50 isn’t it.

        • paulpressey25 says

          The big market fans would still be rabid for NBA basketball. Those markets all have history and have built up huge fan bases that won’t go away overnight.

          Additionally the big markets will always have the advantage of providing players a much larger stage to play on along with endorsement money, after career opportunities, etc. Those advantages won’t go away. The other 15 to 20 teams are just saying they don’t want to give the big markets even more advantages on the form of being able to spend unlimited amounts once over the luxury tax line.

          Again, there is NO hard cap anywhere to be found in the owners proposal. And NO franchise tag anywhere to be found either. The current Heat could still be assembled under this new CBA. The only difference is that the Heat couldn’t then keep adding very desirable MLE veteran players and run their payroll up to 90 million to buy themselves the depth to win a title like the Mavericks did this past year.

          • MikeP says

            If it’s really about competitiveness, why don’t you base these restrictions on where they got in the playoffs instead of the money spent? The NFL has had a “final 8″ rule for a while where the top finishers in the playoffs have restrictions in FA. This makes more sense to me than basing it solely on money.

            I don’t see why teams that got lucky in the draft like Chicago and OKC and drastically underpay their stars should get a free pass while teams that spent more but aren’t as good like Orlando, Atlanta, Portland, hell even LAL don’t get one.

            As has been stated before, team salaries are usually a LAGGING indicator that a team is good.

      • ignarus says

        A hard cap helps parity if and ONLY if you get rid of max salaries and the rookie scale. Otherwise, one team gets to underpay a superstar while another team is left with the option of overpaying less productive players.

        Consider this: Miami has three underpaid top players and will have those no matter what else happens. They ONLY need to bring in better free agents to compete with high spending top teams like Dallas, LA, and Boston. The Bulls are going to have problems unders a restrictive cap when they don’t get to pay the league MVP rookie contract money. The same goes for OKC on an even bigger scale.

        A hard cap might hurt a lot of overspenders, but they’re the only teams that can challenge Miami in the first place. So maybe Miami doens’t get better, but their competition won’t have a way of competing with their superstar values. Heck, Bron and Wade signed for less than the max — what makes you think they won’t resign for even less if they want to make the team better three years from now?

        The owners’ current and threatened propositions both pretty much ensure that Miami wins it all until Lebron’s wheels fall off.

        • mookie says

          Yep, the owners and their general managers are the reason we are in this situation to begin with, and they continue with their stupidity, smh, but like I’ve always thought, its not about the system to the owners it’s about making a profit regardless if the team sucks for years upon years, this is the donald sterling way of thinking and they seem to want to actually make it the NBA law.

        • paulpressey25 says

          Ignaurus, easy solution. Have a franchise tag along with a hard cap. Then LeBron stays in Miami and Bosh in Toronto. Balance problems solved.

          And while we can’t put all those 2010 Miami free agency moves back in the bottle and break up the Heat, we can make it harder for them to buy a title in the years ahead by prohibiting them from adding MLE players and Sign and Trades, while at the same time ensuring Magic fans that they keep Dwight, the Hornets keep Paul and the Nets keep Deron.

  8. Thomas Donaldson says

    Unfortunately, I believe both side are expressing their real, honest positions and intentions. Strangely however, I found comfort in reading above that Commissioner Stern is trying to “find” a way through the impasse. It’s not so much that I believe in his benevolence but I do believe he truly understands how damaging a lost season would be and is in best position to make that case to owners… Hardliners included.

  9. paulpressey25 says

    Good to see the owners holding firm on system issues.

    Are we going to have a league where the luxury tax paying power teams can keep blowing up the size and payroll of their roster with more desirable MLE free agents? Or allow those teams to pull off crazy sign and trades to funnel players like Dwight Howard to LA next year?

    And the owners need to hold firm to take the leverage away from crappy players like Diop and Radmanovic from getting full MLE deals that they’ll never live up to or earn. However that isn’t a loss to the union since the net effect will be to distribute that money to more deserving players. And fans will see players who actually have to perform to keep getting paid.

    Since the owners have caved on the hard cap and franchise tag concepts, the players have to understand there needs to be some level of system restraint to help competitive balance issues.

    Players should take this deal. The owners are now at 50-50 if normal growth projections and the players could get up to 51% if better than projected growth.

    This is now all about the power agents and a small group of players wanting to have 100% of the choices and options they had under the prior system. Players want to be able to go sign with LA and Miami even though only 1% actually have that option. Agents want the ability to use big market offers to keep putting leverage pressure on small and mid market teams for higher and longer contracts so they earn more commission dollars.

    In the end though, if the players take the deal on the table, no guaranteed contracts are reduced and in aggregate they still get 50%+ of BRI.

    • illyb says

      Not sure if you read the article correctly on the BRI side of things. New deal pretty much keeps 50% as the upper limit as it is based on a 4.5% growth rate, anything about the 4.5% growth rate will be shared at 57%.

      Basically it caps it at 50% for all intensive purposes. Only a tremendous growth rate will slightly increase the BRI percentage. Theoretically if the league grew by 109% instead of 4.5% then players would get a 53.5% overall cut(ie half at 50% rate half at 57% rate).

      So basically owners gave the same deal to the players again take the 50/50 and the system we want.

  10. ScottA says

    Understand the players frustration – no one likes losing, let alone highly competitive athletes – but they need to face facts: it’s over. De-certification was an option in July; it isn’t now. There is no way agents hold the low-middle classes of players together for the time it will take. Leadership is avoiding a full vote because the deal would pass. And it should.

    The deal will only get worse – think about it, if any players read comment sections, which I kind of doubt – the question isn’t what is fair or not fair; it isn’t whether or not you like the deal. All you have to think about is whether there is any possible way it will improve; this is the last half of the 4th quarter and you’re down about 20; what is your path to winning? If you can’t find one (and you won’t), shut up and take the deal. Be angry about it; learn from it. Start planning for the end of this deal now; understand their weaknesses and strengths. Come back smarter, stronger, with a better game plan, and beat them next time. But cut your losses today. The worse it gets now, the harder it will be to go back.

    • ignarus says

      Owners really don’t want to take this to court. Stern filed a lawsuit to try to stop players from being allowed to decertify. It’s hard to believe that most owners are going to be nearly as enthusastic about showing who’s boss when a $6 billion antitrust suit is on the table.

      Also, mid level players aren’t going to be happy about a deal that cuts off the free agent market that gives them leverage when negotiating their contracts.

    • drew says

      On NBA TV David Aldridge and a Lawyer specializing in union negotiations and decertification both said that the owners are wary of decertification because even though the case is nowhere near clear cut, if they do lose they could be liable for the legal fees plus 3x the amount of the lost season in damages, in other words 12 billion instead of 4 billion for the lost season. To put that in perspective, the 47% BRI they want now, a 10% cut in BRI for the players, would total over 4 billion over 10 years. So this would be like losing 3 years worth of revenue or continuing in the old system for 30 years. Remember most lawsuits don’t go to trial because it is essentially a coin flip and even the ones that seem clear cut aren’t sure things. This would essentially be like flipping a coin for 12 billion.


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