May 24, 2011, 3:18 PM EST
Consider this your lockout amuse-bouche, just a little something to whet your appetite for the ugliness of players/owners negotiations to come.
The National Basketball Players Association — the players union — filed a filed unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the NBA and the owners are not negotiating in good faith, reports Chris Sherridan at ESPN.
As part of that, they are seeking an injunction to prevent a lockout, which would begin July 1 after the current collective bargaining agreement expires.
Sources have told ESPN.com that the players were so infuriated by the owners’ latest proposal, which seeks a nearly 40 percent rollback in existing contracts over three years and a hard salary cap, that the union would refuse to present a formal counterproposal….
In a statement, the union said the unfair practices included failure to bargain in good faith, demanding huge financial takeaways from prior contracts without offering concessions in return, bypassing the Union to deal directly with players and threatening an unlawful lockout.
“We have urged the Board to investigate this matter quickly and to seek an injunction against the NBA’s unlawful bargaining practices and its unlawful lockout threat,” the union said.
This puts a damper on the “hey, at least they’re talking” optimism for now.
But also know that pretty much everything going on now is posturing. The owners need to look tough (appeasing some hard liners) while the players are working to show solidarity. While a lockout will start July 1, the real pressure on both sides starts later in the summer and into the early fall, when the lack of a deal would start to mean no training camps, lost exhibition games, and eventually cost regular season games and the loss of paychecks. That’s when both sides lose money.
That’s also when both sides really start to lose fans who will take years to get back. If they ever come back. You’d like to think both sides understand this, understand the momentum the league has now and don’t want to mess with it. You’d like to think cooler heads will prevail and a deal will get done.
But we have yet to see any evidence of that.
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