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Leon Rose joins the decertification rebel alliance

Sep 17, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

New Orleans Hornets v Miami Heat Getty Images

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.

  1. therealhtj - Sep 17, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    A decertification would mean at least one season cancelled. Good luck with that geniuses.

  2. xliontamer - Sep 17, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I don’t know if this is a calculated action, but I see a great deal of standard negotiation tactics in this latest round of movement (or lack thereof). The owners say they are united, yet it leaks that a deal was near but put down by a few. The players union is ready tp put in the work but the agents want to go nuclear.

    Each side can sit in the room saying they are ready to work it out while pointing outside the window to a group that is going to blow it up if the deal isn’t beneficial.

    I’m not saying these are idle threats, but they are also not unexpected.

  3. ljl2 - Sep 17, 2011 at 4:45 PM


    “It as this time, being what I would consider to be an NBA blogger that I will choose to assume that the Cavaliers’ owner is calling out Simmons and Simmons alone. After all, roughly one week before the hullabaloo insued on the major blogwaves, WFNY reported a Chris Mannix soundbite from Cleveland’s very own 92.3 The Fan; Gilbert was grouped in with Washington’s Ted Leonsis, Phoenix’ Robert Sarver and Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck. While there is considerable potential to point out the obvious Simmons-Grousbeck connection (which too can be categorized as “sad and pathetic”), it is also worth pointing out the piece penned by TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott – also an ESPN property – that listed Gilbert, Leonsis, Sarver and Grousbeck in with Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Dallas’ Mark Cuban, Denver’s Stan Kroenke, Detroit’s Tom Gores, Memphis’ Michael Heisley, Milwaukee’s Herb Kohl, Philly’s Josh Harris, Portland’s Paul Allen, Sacremento’s tandem of Joe and Gavin Maloof, San Antonio’s Peter Holt, Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum and Utah’s Greg Miller. Not exactly a one-or-two-man band of hard-nosed negotiating and anchor dragging.”

    It wasn’t put down by a few, it was favored by a few and the majority were opposed.

  4. goforthanddie - Sep 17, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Well, seeing as how Rose is leb’s main mouthpiece, if he’s in favor of it, it must be a horrible idea.

  5. heat24 - Sep 18, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    So LeBron is the blame for everything??? This article made some sense until the last sentence. You wanna say Bron is near or at the center, then you would need to implicate a few other high-profile players to make your story sound less of someone that really doesn’t care for LeBron James! Sometimes the media doesn’t help the process…Oh well to each his own!

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