by Carlos Nazario
On Monday, November 14, 2011, a nuclear war was officially declared. The NBPA and the NBA have been locked in a battle for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and on this day it blew up.
Commissioner David Stern and the owners have basically been trying to bully the players into agreeing to an agreement to their detriment. The players had been enjoying a 57%-43% split of the Basketball Related Income, and the owners wanted that number to go down.
The players agreed to come down to the middle between the original numbers, 52-48 (which would cost the players $3Billion), but the owners decided to play hardball. David Stern offered a 50-50 split, but with more restrictions on player movement, lower salary cap, and a harder cap. Many owners were upset with Stern’s “final offer” to the players. They actually wanted a 53-47 split in favor of the owners, and a hard salary cap. They hoped the players would reject it, and they did.
In addition to rejecting the offer, the players announced they filed a disclaimer of interest. Basically, that dissolves the union and allows the players to file an antitrust claim against the owners. The owners also filed an unfair negotiation claim against the players as well. Now the case is going to the lawyers who charge $400/hr to negotiate.
All this puts a 2011-2012 season in jeopardy. Stern has said it would take 30 days from an agreement to get a deal done. We are already in mid-November so there will be no basketball until at least early next year. Should the negotiations drag on, it would be unrealistic to have a season.
Many fans are blaming the players for this situation. They feel the players are overpaid and can afford to give up some money. They also just want the best basketball players in the world to get back on the court. Instead they are going to court.
The players do not feel they should accept a bad deal just so they can get back to work. They feel they need a CBA for players entering the league for decades to come.
For those who criticize the players for their actions, I have this bit of nugget. In March, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports wrote an article detailing some of the bullying tactics used by Stern.
During the All Star weekend, NBPA Union Director Billy Hunter and Stern both gave their annual talk to the players. Hunter came close to having the players stage a protest of the All Star Game but decided against it. He did speak to the players about a looming lockout and long battle.
This made Stern livid. It was his turn to speak and he unleashed. Many in the room said he told them he knows “where the bodies are buried” in the NBA and that he knows because he buried some of them himself.
Is this the type of negotiating the owners and Stern are using on the players? How can the players accept this? The people in the room also recounted how Hunter reacted.
“One thing my grandmother taught me was that if you got a rat trapped, you’ve got to give his ass a way out, because he will fight you if he has to. If you don’t give us a way out, a chance for a compromise, you’re going to get a fight.”
A fight is what we have now. As the players and owners throw their haymakers, the people who get hurt and possibly get knocked out are the fans.