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Hardliners from both sides try to send message before talks

Nov 4, 2011, 8:36 AM EDT

billy-hunter-david-stern Getty Images

On one side, you have a group of renegade players threatening decertification of the union — threatening to blow up any chance of this season if the owners don’t give in. The owners don’t want to lose a full season and they feared decertification enough to file a pre-emptive lawsuit to block it.

On the other side are some owners telling David Stern he didn’t have the right to offer a 50/50 deal and that that BRI split number should be walked back. Those owners would like to throw the “flex cap” idea back on the table, a suggestion the union called a “hard cap” said it would never accept.

Both of those sides get their stories leaked into media reports so that the other side can be sure to hear it.

What all that means is the hardliners on both sides (however you choose to define them) are trying to keep their leaders from doing the logical thing on Saturday when labor talks restart — compromising, meeting in the middle and getting on with the season.

And so long as those hardliners are the ones making the decisions, there will be no end to the lockout. There will be no NBA games.

The threat of decertification is the last, best card the players have to play. To in essence do away with the union and sue the league on anti-trust grounds is a powerful card and about the only thing the players can do the owners might fear because the courts are unpredictable and if the union wins the damages would be stiff.

The players should have done it — in July. Like the NFL players union, it should have decertified the second the lockout was imposed. At the time the union thought that could slow negotiations, but the reality is the two sides didn’t really start negotiating until September anyway.

But right now the threat is muted, unless there are a majority of players who would be willing to blow up the entire season. I’m not really sure here are. My guess is if you put to a vote of the full 400 plus NBA players either decertification or taking the owners 50/50 offer, the players would cave. By a wide margin.

The owners have not been bargaining in good faith throughout this process. They have had the leverage and used it to radically overhaul the system.

But in doing so they have given the players little, and that’s why we are still here. Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter need a path out of this, something they can sell to their constituents that is not a total defeat. They need the owners to give a little to make this end and the owners — and particularly David Stern — have not. The owners are up 40 points with the clock winding down and will not call off the full-court-press.

Stern and Hunter could get a deal done Saturday, a deal both sides could live with. A deal that would mean games before Christmas. It’s right there for the taking.

If their hardliners will back off and let them.

  1. skids003 - Nov 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    “The owners have no been bargaining in good faith.”

    And the players have?

    • BrownsTown - Nov 4, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      The player apologists’ view of when the owners don’t give the players what they want.

  2. 1pconner - Nov 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    I SO hope that the season is lost completely. I have season tickets to the Kings and at this point I simply want my money back. I will never spend another dime on NBA basketball. I am done!!!

  3. sixer24 - Nov 4, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    NOBODY CARES!!!!! the quality of play, popularity have been on a downslide for many years. They should just settle this thing at 50-50 and hope they can save their league. It’s really a shame what the NBA has become. Basketbal is such a great GAME, lets get back to making so!!!!!!

  4. yournuts - Nov 4, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Who are these hardliners? We would like to know?

  5. thetooloftools - Nov 4, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Just pull the plug on the whole season if this doesn’t work. More and more fans are just getting tired of the stupidity of all this. The players need to take the 50/50 BRI and swallow it. The owners made a horrible deal in the last CBA and a split is more then fair. I don’t care about the NBA when college ball is going to kick in soon and I’ll get my fix there.
    I don’t NEED the NBA.
    Screw the players.

    • jbraxton3rd - Nov 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      So right…50-50 is more than fair considering the owners are still footing all the expenses,i.e., air travel, hotel accomodations, uniforms, locker room essentials, etc..

      • mytthor - Nov 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM

        Expenses are taken off the top. The BRI split is calculated after the expenses are paid.

      • mytthor - Nov 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        And seriously? Uniforms and locker room essentials? We’re talking about billions of dollars here and you think things that JR high teams pay for out of a public school budget are worth mentioning?

    • jcarne9014 - Nov 4, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      Absolutely! This is well past the point of being ridiculous! The players have absolutely no leverage here. If the league blows up, their lives are over. The owners…already wealthy men…will all be perfectly fine. They will all just have to find another hobby. There aren’t 10 players in the league who could read the CBA, much less understand or negotiate for it!

    • mogogo1 - Nov 4, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      For me it all comes down to who the union is actually representing. You know there’s a large percentage of players who have got to be absolutely terrified at the prospect of the season being canceled because they need the paycheck. They know they’ll be out of the league within another season or two and then they’ll need to find something else to do for a living. On the other hand, you’ve got guys like LeBron and all the other superstars who wouldn’t feel any pain whatsoever if the season got canceled. I don’t think Billy Hunter cares about the lower-tier guys at all.

      • mytthor - Nov 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        Isn’t it funny that everyone seems to agree that the players will be the ones most financially strapped by an extended lockout but the OWNERS are the ones crying that they can’t pay their bills?

  6. rreducla1 - Nov 5, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    I don’t care about the NBA when college ball is going to kick in soon and I’ll get my fix there.
    I don’t NEED the NBA.


    Good call. Start by boycotting the pro-plyer writers at PBT! Make a stand!

  7. rreducla1 - Nov 5, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    We would like to know?


    We will get you that information right after you learn how to use question marks and apostrophes.

  8. rreducla1 - Nov 5, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    There aren’t 10 players in the league who could read the CBA, much less understand or negotiate for it!


    Get lost. Stay lost. You contribute nothing here.

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