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Just like lockout, lots of talking but no action in NBA court case

Nov 2, 2011, 5:55 PM EDT

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The lawsuit that the NBA filed and the players want dismissed — a suit that asks the courts to rule on whether the lockout legal — is really a sideshow. It only matters if talks break down so far that the union decides to decertify, a place the union has yet to be willing to go.

Yet the first day of arguments felt a lot like the rest of the lockout, according to reports from those in the courtroom.

Lawyers did all the talking, both sides took some verbal shots at each other, and in the end nothing was decided and the issue will continue on indefinitely.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wanted both sides to file more papers and to answer some issues via written submission before he makes a ruling on whether to throw the league’s suit out or allow it to go forward to trial. There is no timetable for his decision.

What does this mean for the lockout? Nothing. It doesn’t move the needle on negotiations either way. And in the end negotiations are the only way the lockout gets solved.

Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe tweeted this was probably the best exchange of the day.

League attorney, on union’s alleged willingness to decertify: “It’s like a taking a loaded gun and putting it on the table.”

Judge’s response: “It’s not clear if there are any bullets in it,” meaning unclear if union actually would decertify.

The league’s lawsuit was a pre-emptive strike against the union decertifying then having players sue the union on anti-trust grounds. That’s the route the NFL players went, but the NBA has not and likely will not unless the entire season is lost. Still, the issue was enough of a concern to the league they filed this lawsuit essentially trying to block decertification.

It also was an attempt by the league to choose the venue where any case would be heard. The league has had favorable rulings from this district in the past.

All that said, it really changes nothing. This lockout is going to be solved by negotiations. They are 95 percent of the way there. But they can’t get the last five percent until they sit down again, and right now no talks are scheduled.

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