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Winderman: If union rank-and-file would approve 50/50, take it

Nov 2, 2011, 2:59 PM EDT

billy-hunter, derek fisher AP

The goal for Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the players’ union is not to win. It is to serve their constituency.

If their constituency accepts a deal that Hunter, Fisher and other National Basketball Players Association officials have worked so tirelessly to avoid, then it should not translate into a moment of shame.

Considering what the owners wanted (everything) and what they have relented on (a few things) it is not as if these past four months have been in vain.

Amid this recent he said-he said back and forth about Hunter and Fisher, it is overwhelmingly clear that those with political agendas have entered the process, or at least become more vocal (in the most surreptitious of manners).

Just as politicians know that virtually any new tax put up for vote (even one essential to the infrastructure) will fail, so, too, does union leadership remain keenly aware that if the latest owners’ proposal (or almost any owner plan) were to be put up for a vote, it would pass, because it would restart the pay cycle.

So Thursday, the union executive board, but not the entire union, will meet in New York to address the current stalemate.

But what the union and the league truly need is the means to take the current temperature. Is the current deal good enough for the masses? Would it be accepted?

On one hand, a collective-bargaining agreement cannot be voted upon piecemeal. That simply is impractical. There can’t first be a vote on the revenue split, then one on the system issues and then another on ancillary issues (drug testing, minimum draft age, etc.).

But there can be a straw poll on 50-50 or 51-49. And based on some of the Twitter offerings posted by the constituency that Hunter and Fisher represent, good enough appears to be good enough at this stage.

What JaVale McGee was mocked for last month is proving closer to reality. He said “some guys” were ready to fold. “Some” could be moving closer to “many” (or even most) and “fold” might simply have advanced to “relent.”

Over the past few days, there has been a clandestine move afoot to paint Fisher, Hunter or others (agents, publicists) as the villains on the union side.

Yet if a majority of those in the union are good to go, then Hunter and Fisher should go with an agreement they personally might not find palatable.

Because this is not about them. This is about the union. As a whole.

If Hunter and Fisher have already crafted a deal the majority of players are willing to accept, then they have won. They would have fulfilled their mandate.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

  1. bravin4evr - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    It’s easy for people to say this or that when it’s not their money!

  2. fenway9999 - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Finally an article that makes sense. Hunter is worried that if the masses will accept this deal then his “enemies” will use the “LOSS” against him when it is time to decide if he should still be in charge or not. The politicians in all of this have definitely started to raise their heads and speak. The players won in the previous CBA and thatwas during good economic times, so it stands to reason that with the economy in the dumps they should expect to lose some of those gains. Coomon sense will prevail eventually, but how much money will the entire NBA lose before they see it?

  3. buckifan4life - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Owners should hang tough for the 50-50. They got butchered on the last deal. Owners can hold out longer and as Stern said,…”the deal isn’t going to get better the longer this goes” and I believe him. The players blow their money “making it rain” and on crap, they won’t survive long.

  4. goforthanddie - Nov 2, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    I don’t get why players think they deserve more than 50/50. I guess because they got it last time. Well, get over it.

  5. polegojim - Nov 2, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    I doubt many people AT ALL would even MISS an NBA season.

    It wouldl serve both sides right – miss all those pay days… but not really be missed.

  6. shep1957 - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    It makes sense to take a straw poll of all the players to see if they are willing to accept 50/50. If so, end this mess and lets play ball.

  7. tilllman40 - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Lol they do love to “make it rain” bet they wish sum of those”rain showers” they could take back

  8. contract - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    “Is the current deal good enough for the masses?”

    Sorry Ira, but the masses don’t matter. Nobody attends NBA games to see Dexter Pittman or Joel Anthony or Mario Chalmers play. The stars make the league, and therefore they should be the only ones with a vote. If some of the poorer and less responsible players have to file for bankruptcy in order for the most lucrative deal to be secured for the players … then so be it. They should have saved for a rainy day instead of spending every dollar that the star players earned for them.

    • yournuts - Nov 7, 2011 at 11:48 AM

      Sorry contract, your thinking is that the stars are bigger than the league. It doesn’t matter what sport you are in the league makes the star, always did and always will. Without the league the star is nothing. The league will survive with or without the star. I think that 90% of the people could care less about the stars unless he played on their particular team.

  9. ghelton03 - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    The 50/50 deal the owners have offered is just for the BRI split. Once the players agree to the 50/50, then the owners want to talk about what else they want in changes to the system. So to say take the 50/50 deal and think it is over, is naive and is hard to believe a sports writer would imply that. If the players take the 50/50, it is long from being over.

  10. texmex2 - Nov 2, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Players need to quit listening to the lawyers (agents) take the 50/50 before the owners get real angry & go back to 53/47. This is not the NFL you have alot of options as “players”, go play for the different World leauge’s (Europe, Asia, Central & South America, or the D-League) or try and start your own league; that costly adventure should really open your collective eyes up to reality.

    • florida727 - Nov 3, 2011 at 9:34 AM

      “texmex” raises a very valid point. The thing the players constantly ignore is the fact that they’re nothing more than “employees”. Try going to your boss and asking for a 57/43 split of his/her “business related income”. You’d be in the unemployment line.

      Personally, I’d love to see all fans boycott the entire season, assuming one even gets played. Don’t attend in person. Don’t watch on TV. I know it’ll never happen, but it really is the only way to send a message to the owners and players that as fans, we’ve reached OUR boiling point. As it is now, a family of four has to refinance to attend a game that includes something better than nose-bleed seating.

      Most regular season games are nothing more than one-on-one exhibitions anyway. The playoffs are the only games worth paying attention to.

      • Kurt Helin - Nov 3, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        As I have said before, comparing NBA players to standard hardware store employees (or whatever) fails on this premise — the players are also the product. They are what is being sold. This is more akin to the economies of a law firm, where the lawyers get the lion’s share of the money because it is them and their work/reputation that brings in clients.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM

        Um, sorry Kurt, but unless you are talking about private practice, the lawyers in the big-tie law firms do NOT “get the lion’s share” of the money. I don’t know if you have ever worked in a law firm, but the fact is that there is overhead and then there are partners who get paid. And then there are the low-level lawyers working 70 hour weeks who make a very good salary, but as a % of what the overhead and the partners make, it PALES in comparison to a 50/50 split.

        Please stop trying to make the case that the players deserve more than a 50/50 split of the NET BRI. They do not. The expenses should be covered before the players see a nickel, unless they want to cover them out of their pockets. You know…arrange their own plane tickets and hotel rooms. Fly coach. Get their own food daily. Don’t forget they get a daily stipend used to eat while they are on the road too. The players make a TON of money…50/50 split of the NEW BRI is all they deserve in their paychecks!!!!!

  11. yournuts - Nov 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Kurt, you don’t know what your talking about!

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