Sep 17, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
The barbarians are at the gate. They’re wearing Brooks Brothers and smell like money. And now, to quote a wholly inappropriate flick for the context, “They have a cave troll.”
A faction of NBA agents have been ramping up pressure on Billy Hunter and the union officials to decertify the union, paving the way for antitrust lawsuits galore in an attempt to gain some sort of line in the sand in the ever-receding front for the players with the owners advancing. Hunter and the union have been steadfast in resisting efforts to decertify, wanting to keep the dispute out of the courts. They’re aware that the moment this thing enters the courts it goes from trench warfare to a melee, and everything winds up in the air. The agents feel this is the only way to put the fear of God into the owners and get them off their hard line.
It hasn’t been all the agents though. Specifically, Billy Duffy, Arn Tellem, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz, and Dan Fegan have been the ones leading the charge while other agents hang back or resist outright. But a major entity is reportedly set on pushing to detonate the union and strike out with lawsuits galore. It’s LeBron’s agent, Leon Rose.
Rose, who also represents Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and union official Chris Paul, is on the train according to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated. The Paul connection is particularly interesting as it represents a split between agent and player, assuming Paul is sticking with Hunter and Derek Fisher in trying to withstand the rise from within. The reason this could be significant has more to do with numbers than individuals, however. If Rose is in fact siding with the others and can convince the majority of his stable, that puts the contingent firmly beyond the 30% necessary to petition in order to force an involuntary decertification.
Hunter losing control of his membership in an involuntary decertification wouldn’t be tantamount to a vote of no confidence, but it would be pretty freaking close. It would mean that his membership elected directly to override his leadership to go in another direction. It could also cause a fracture in leadership which could set back talks for months, and that’s before the ramifications of entering this conflict into court case after court case.
As always, there’s a storm and LeBron James is at or near the center of it.