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Choice before players: Take Stern’s offer or decertify

Nov 6, 2011, 3:05 AM EDT

Derek Fisher, Spencer Hawes, Maurice Evans

David Stern threw down the gauntlet — here is our deal. It’s a 51-49 band on basketball-related income and other things the owners can live with. Come Wednesday, this offer will vanish and the next offer will be much worse. The owners are done negotiating.

Stern said it wasn’t an ultimatum, but he is wrong. That’s exactly what it is. He knows the players have only one leverage card to play in these talks. Which leaves the NBA players’ union with two realistic options:

One: Take the deal.

Two: Decertify.

Either give in to what the owners want, otherwise risk blowing up the entire season and go after them hard in the courts with decertification. I’m not the only one seeing it this way, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo does as well.

And union president Derek Fisher suggested the players are not taking Stern’s deal.

“Right now, we’ve been given the ultimatum, and right now that is not acceptable to us,” Fisher said.

Stern’s proposal — which were suggestions from the federal mediator, according to Stern — called for a 49-51 percent band of sharing on basketball-related income (which is really a 50/50 deal that can slide a little either way), along with a mini mid-level of about $2 million for teams paying the luxury tax, no sign-and-trade for taxpayers, a $1 repeater tax (teams that pay the tax multiple years) and more.

Fisher said that never really came from an official offer of the mediator. He said he never heard that offer in the room. He said the players made an offer they thought was fair.

“We’ve made moves that are extremely significant … we made an offer that was a very fair at about 51 percent …” Fisher said. “We’ve been consistent, if we move on ecomomics we need a fair system our players can live in.”

All of this is moot.

If the players are serious about fighting hardball with hardball, if they are serious about leverage, they have to at least seriously threaten decertification. It is the one thing that scared the owners enough that they filed a pre-emptive lawsuit trying to block decertification.

Some agents are polling players on that right now, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. Some players are on board with decertification (dissolving the union) right now:


It would take a petition with 30 percent of the NBA’s players, about 130 guys, to start the process of decertification. Then there would be a 45-day period before the petition would be voted on (if the National Labor Relations Board doesn’t delay that vote). In that time, the threat of decertification might provide leverage that would get the union a better deal. Maybe. If you think Stern will back down. But it doesn’t feel like it because the hardline owners will not let him. If no deal, the players would need the vote of 230 players to blow up the union completely. Then the players could sue the owners on anti-trust grounds

If you put it to a vote of the entire players’ union right now, they likely would take Stern’s deal. He is counting on that, he is counting on the pressure working. Union leadership feels they have given everything they can, coming down from 57 percent of BRI to 51 percent in their latest offer. But they feel the owners are not meeting them halfway on system issues (such as the luxury tax and exceptions to it). They feel the owners are being unfair. Which is true, but moot.

Right now, union leadership is not taking Stern’s deal. And if not, decertification of the union looks more like a viable option for the players. The threat of it could force the owners to the table. Or, it could destroy the entire season. It’s a risk.

But it’s one the players have to take unless they want to give in.

  1. eaglessuperfan - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    Enjoy making less money players if you do this. Not very smart guys are they.

  2. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    Not very smart guys are they.


    Maybe not, but they probably understand the concept of the question mark.

    Or maybe you are entered in a Yoda sound-alike contest.

  3. seattlesuperchronic - Nov 6, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    His comment does sound better in the key of Yoda.

    • eaglessuperfan - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:08 AM

      At least you got in laf

  4. shep1957 - Nov 6, 2011 at 6:48 AM

    Wow! Understand the concept of getting a life.

    • rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM

      Sure. I will work on that after you understand the concept of “making a joke.”

  5. jcioffi1485 - Nov 6, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    I say that there are more basketball players with poor to desperate finances than in any other sport. This is going to compromise the union position. The players are going to eat that slice of Stern’s Humble Pie one way or the other.

  6. bcjim - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    Suck on it players..and like it.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:29 PM

      You’re the expert at suck on it.

  7. redbear18 - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Take the stupid deal! I’m sick of this…

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:30 PM


  8. bmmayhew - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    What has to really concern the NBA owners and players is that college basketball starts, on time, very soon. On a national level, that is where fans’ passion for basketball resides.

  9. bmorehomeofthewire - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Don’t take the deal, if they are not willing to open their books and show you the rest of the money the owners are hiding. The owners greed is evident, and why should the players suffer for their mis-management of funds..tell the owner shove that deal up theirs……

    • therealhtj - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      Except for the fact that the NBA owners presented their audited financial records to the union long ago. If you’d like to get a forensic accounting team on the case, they should be done with their audit sometime before the 2013-14 season. I’m sure the NCAA, NHL, MLS, and women’s lacrosse fans that frequent this blog will be elated.

      But actually you’re right. The players should stand firm with their principles. Why should they settle for a penny less in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression? Especially the vets like KG, Pierce, Kobe, and other guys who’ve earned 100+ million over their careers – they don’t have to listen to what “the man” is telling them. They don’t listen to nobody! They’d rather “blow this $&*%^$ to the moon” than cave in to Mr. Charlie’s demands.

      I know these guys aren’t the brightest bulbs in the batch, but sooner or later they’ll figure out 50% of 2+ Billion is a whole lot more than 52% of 0.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Agree with that, too!

    • yournuts - Nov 7, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      since when does an owner open his books for the employees? Your living in a fairy tale world. You actually think that the players have any leverage at all? Players are employees, W-4 employees and when they get this then, and only then, will they accept the owners proposal. If the players were smart they would have jumped at the 50/50 proposal sent to them a couple of weeks ago. Now they are playing with fire and most likely will have to eventually accept a deal that will be worst for themselves. This is what I call bad leadership on the union’s part. The problem will be that the vast majority of the NBA players will suffer at the expense of the so called union unity that is being forced on them. Ego is such a stupid thing especially when the players think they are bigger than the game itself.

  10. santolonius - Nov 6, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    if the players have built such a great product how come the people with an interest in basketball who read this site (dare i say “fans”?) are so overwhelmingly against the players? perhaps these players are not as good at creating a show with likable charters as they think. will these players do some soul searching? what have we done to alienate the fans? no they won’t. which makes me dislike them even more. (but i do like a good game of basketball between two evenly matched teams.)

    • therealhtj - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      You want to know why? Because true NBA fans, the ones who’ll be watching the minute this idiot lockout is over, care about the teams, not the individual players. They’ve been rooting for likely their hometown team since they’ve been kids regardless of who’s in the uniform. I know I would. I know there’s some athletic, freakishly tall kid out there that’d take the place of any of these guys TODAY and nail some jumpers, drive to the hoop, throw down some amazing dunks, and have us forget the names of the current crop of the preordained superstars.

      And hard-players looking to blow up the union? Great idea. Go for it. Forget about this season, kiss your precious guaranteed money goodbye, and watch next season as scrubs take your roster spots.

      And this *$%(&($%*& Kessler absolutely disgusts me. Just a blatant push for more billable hours. Really hope the players ignore this idiot.

  11. tastybasslines - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Why are the owners seen as the enemy just because they have more money? Or are you the type that thinks your friend should give you money just because they’re richer than you? The owners invest 400 MILLION dollars for a business that is LOSING money! I can invest 1 million dollars in a business and still lose money too.

    So, with my 400 million + not making money, I’m the one that gives the players a place to play, and they have the right to earn more than we do? How does that make any sense at all?

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 7, 2011 at 2:28 AM

      But if you overpaid for a house at the top of the market and end up upside down on it — and that’s what is going on here, owners are not covering their losses with franchise values anymore — should the bank bail you out because of your poor decisions?

  12. diablito0402 - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    Since when does an owner of a business have to show the books to the employees on his profit income, players are employees right, or do they own part of the teams they play for?? Come on people dont be stupid, players are overpaid employees, that demand power they shouldnt have suck on it players, i hope you bite it and make less money spoiled little brats!!

    • tastybasslines - Nov 6, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      If they want to be full partners, then let them take on the risk of losing money too like the teams do as well and I bet they will work a deal right out.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      Spoken like a very useful idiot for the rich and powerful.

      • yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        jimeejohnson. why do you side with the players? it is kind of disgusting that the greedy players want to own the NBA. Don’t you think they are treated fairly? How much money do you make? Where do you work and how much of your employers assets do you know about?

  13. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I know I would


    Then you don’t understand the game. If the owners thought using replacement players were a viable strategy, they would either be threatening to do it, or would already be doing it.

    They will try it only in the event of disaster and maybe not even then. That should tell you all you need to know.

    The NBA, economically, is driven by two things: stars, good players and geographic/historical context. The reason the players get millions of dollars and the reason the owners give them more or less half the money is that the players include the stars and good players.

    • therealhtj - Nov 6, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      Stars will come and go, but the teams they play on will remain. Replacement players aren’t ideal, but considering 99% of NCAA Ball players never stick in the NBA but can still put on an exciting show tells you that it’s an entirely viable option if the Union is foolish enough to decertify and turn the lockout into drawn out court battle.

      It’s not ideal, and the league will definitely suffer, but if Kobe, Lebron, Wade, and every other “superstar” never suit up again, the league will continue on just fine without them.

  14. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    if the players have built such a great product how come the people with an interest in basketball who read this site (dare i say “fans”?) are so overwhelmingly against the players?


    Anger and ignorance. Also, I don’t think this site has as many hard-core NBA fans as it does lockout trolls at the moment.

  15. stoutfiles - Nov 6, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Fans just want a cap to prevent the Knicks, Bulls, Heat, Celtics, Mavs, and Lakers from being the only powerhouse teams. Everyone wants a chance to have their team win, but letting players go where they want is ruining the NBA.

    Sign it now or sign it later, but put in a cap that prevents the marquee players from getting paid big bucks to play together.

    • leearmon - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:29 AM

      I dont think fans of the Spurs, Thunder or Blazers really care what the Bulls Knicks Heat etc are doing. Those small market teams are doing quite fine

  16. bmorehomeofthewire - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    @ diablito0402. U don’t have a clue.. All you player haters who couldn’t carry a jock strap, stop being jealous of players for what they make.. I am smart enough to know if a owner is paying a player 80 million, how much is he making to have to pay that contract. Duh if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense…

    • yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      bhomeofthewire. Your only worried about what the owners make? You can’t be trusted because you don’t care about the fans. Your either a player of a posse member! GREED and JEALOUSYon the players part. PLain and simple.

  17. yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    I’m glad that the owners have taken this stance! This new offer is a little different from the last offer and for the players it is not as good. Players such as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Duane Wade are trying to hijack this game and are delusional about the players role in the game of basketball. They really want to operate the league and become the face of the league. The players are becoming a cancer to the league. They state that the owners are only responsible for not making money for themselves due to bad contracts and bad marketing of their teams. The reality is that the league will only survive and have a sport if radical changes are made where all the owners can make a profit. It is not important for the players that they make tons of money, they want to control this game by calling themselves unique employees and calling the NBA a cartel. It is sad that some players and their posse’s are trying to make up believe that public opinion is in their corner by writing crap about the owners and David Stern, when in reality public opinion is really in the favor of the owners by a wide margin. The system has provided well for the players and they are more worried about how much money the owners make than by making the league better and more competitive.
    The players have made their own bed and every sport is different but you don’t see this kind of bickering among the players in any other sport. Some people here believe this sport is different than other sports. I find it sad when a guy who’s only skill in life is playing basketball tries to hijack and bite the hand that feeds them rather than embrace the system that provides for them. In no other corporation do you find employees that make the kind of money that the players do, want to take the organization over. Employees, and NBA players are nothing more than an employee, are W-4 wage employee. The owners take 100% of all the risk and deserve 100% of the reward. Even though the owners have offered 50% to the employees, the employees say it is not enough. Talk about player greed. I don’t even want to hear about the players giving back 5% because they have not given back anything. THe old contract was the old contract and when the owners were losing money the players didn’t give a damn and didn’t give back squat.
    This union is nothing more than another reason of what is wrong in America today. Guys making upward of 12 to 30 million and not happy with their paycheck and their pension.
    So you guys out there that are defending the players, you are either players, their friends or getting paid by the NBAPA to write this crap defending the players. I would rather see replacement players take over and you guys sit out and brood over your miscalculation about what the owners will do. Perhaps you should not take this deal, and see what the owners will do next! I know your ego’s are in the way of your thinking. You think that just because you can play a sport well, because your athletic that the world owes you. Well the world took care of you but their are limits and you never bite the hand that feeds you.

    • leearmon - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:38 AM

      You do understand the players were not unhappy with their contracts, the owners were. The players are not being offered “50%” as you say. The owners get $600 million off the top, then want to split the BRI 50/50. Not exactly an even split huh? And how is putting your body on the line for 82 games not risky? Since you say playing basketball is the only thing these men are good at, it seems that would be pretty risky.

      I never quite understood the outrage toward the players. I tried to think back if there was this much vitriol toward hockey players when they were locked out. And unfortunately I didn’t see nearly as much dislike and nasty comments towards those players. There is an interesting dynamic going on with this lockout. Bubbling underneath all of this hate, and insults towards the players I think you see some cultural issues between many fans of basketball who reside in rural / suburban areas and the players who mostly reside from urban America. I know even bringing this topic up bothers many people, but its clear there are some real deep rooted issues underneath the surface of this work stoppage. I would be interested in an article on that, rather than the next tweet that comes from a player who now wants to stop wearing Jordans.

  18. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    I will give yournuts one thing: He is, in fact, nuts.

    I hope all these trolls bail when the lockout eventually ends and the basketball fans come back.

  19. rreducla1 - Nov 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Also, you used “their” and “who’s” incorrectly, big guy.

  20. bmorehomeofthewire - Nov 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    @ yournuts you clowns better wake up. you must be part of that 1 %. Equal distribution of wealth and power…

  21. yournuts - Nov 6, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    It has nothing to do with the 1%. The players are in fact part of the 1%, so I don’t see what you getting at?

  22. diablito0402 - Nov 7, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    I own a business, and my employees dont have the right to know how much my business make and they dont expect to take 52% of what i make, i take good care of them and thats that, whats any difference in the nba, players are celebrities, so they need special attention,, come on man!!

  23. leearmon - Nov 7, 2011 at 1:56 AM

    I liken the players relationship with the owners to a Master Chef working for an owner of a restaurant. The owner takes most of the risk investing in the actuall place. Supplying the food, staff, tables etc. However the main attraction to said restaurant is the Chef. The Chef is the reason the restaurant is reviewed in the papers. The Chef is the reason people wait in line around the corner. The Chef is the reason the owner can charge top dollar because the demand is high for the Chef’s food.

    If the Chef is then unhappy with his salary, it is in the owner’s best interest to keep that Chef happy, because if the Chef leaves so too do the lines around the corner, the great reviews in the paper, and the high quality dishes.

    The owners need to understand the risks involved with owning a company, business what have you. If you make bad decisions there is a high chance you do not see a profit. Why do you think the Lakers grossed a net gain of $300 million last season? Because they are successful. L.A. didnt sign any high priced free agents. Their top talents were either drafted or brought in through trades. The whole basis of many of the owners’ argument is flawed. They say small markets can’t succeed, yet the Spurs are the second most winningest team in the last 15 years. They say its because teams going over the cap, yet teams like Memphis, Chicago and OKC were under and had great success while teams over the cap like the Wizards, and Magic struggled. There isnt any consistency. The owners want to dummy proof the league from themselves and insure they see a profit no matter how inept their decisions may be. The contracts that some of these teams hand out are ridiculous at best. Instead of making these grandiose system changes in the CBA. Why not just stop giving out high priced contracts? I mean they do control who gets paid what. If they are losing so much money, why re-sign Rudy Gay to $80 million? Or pay Andray Blatche $7 million a year? Market size, BRI nor hard cap has any say on that.

  24. yournuts - Nov 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    The players deserve to sit out a year to think about things. One year without salary will soften them up. I can live without the NBA for a year to get things back in order. How many years do players have to each NBA salaries?

  25. jollyjoker2 - Nov 7, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    There is no bargaining agreeement so the players can’t give back what they never had. Don’t understand that concept. It almost sounds like congress negotiating.

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