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NBA union did not poll players before taking big step Monday

Nov 14, 2011, 5:17 PM EDT

Derek Fisher

There were 30 NBA team player representatives — and about another 20 players total — who were in the room in New York on Monday and they voted unanimously to file a Notice of Disclaimer, essentially decertifying the union.

But is that what the full union would have voted to do?

Probably not (many think if the owners’ latest offer had been put to vote of players it would have passed), but we’ll never know because the union did not poll its members.

In fact, union officials were hostile to the idea, reports Henry Abbott at TrueHoop, saying that to do so was to let David Stern and the owners win.

The gist of the response was that you cannot give your adversary direct access to the membership. “That’s not how any union in America, that I’m aware of, operates,” said (union legal counsel Jeffrey) Kessler. If the NBA is just going to send offers straight to the players, why even have a union? The idea is that the union is savvier, and knows a good deal when it sees one. And only when the union is sure that the deal is in players’ best interests will they present it to the workers.

Rockets guard Kevin Martin, by text on Monday morning, said he didn’t care to be represented that way: “I think it’s fair for every player to have a vote, because we’re all grown men and its time for the players to control their career decisions, and not one player per team. If it comes down to a final decision, you got to be fair.”

It’s one thing for the union to reject the offer and look for a way to continue to negotiate. But to start the decertification process without polling the constituency? That’s a big step.

But that’s also where we are.

  1. mvp43 - Nov 14, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Okay, so what is the purpose of a union again?

    It seems that Kessler and Hunter are more interested in sticking it to the owners than allowing THEIR members to vote on any proposal.

    That is sick and completely contrary to what the union is supoosed to be doing. This union doesn’t represent its members………only some of them. Hmm…………

    • dev41 - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:26 PM

      Since when has any union been interested in representing all of it’s member’s best interests. This is a game/war between the union and the owners; the hell with the players and the fans.

  2. stadix093 - Nov 14, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Well seeing as there is no season, can we get an article about which teams lose the most in free agency? I mean does this mean Orlando will have no contract with D Howard by the time teams play again? D Will? Chris Paul? How does that all work? Sorry for my ignorance people, somebody fill me in.

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:49 PM

      The clock in essences freezes. Players that would have been F/As this year will be F/As when the new CBA takes effect, players that had a year remaining going into this year (like Howard, Paul, etc) will still have a year left on their contratcs, players with 4 years remaining going into this year will still have 4 years remaining etc.

      That assumes the current contracts are honored. The tricky part is that the league has argued if the union decertifies that all current contracts become void. If the courts side with the owners on that premis (long-shot but possible) then I guess all players become F/As unless the leagues puts in place some type of draft or mechanism for teams to have exlclusive rights to re-sign their own players. But this great-unknown is an unlikely scenario (although I would love to see the looks on the players faces if a judge tells them that when the voted to decertify they voted to effectively void their $50mil guaranteed contract).

  3. atwatercrushesokoye - Nov 14, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Huge misstep by the union here, the players will never get back this year of pay. And to what end? Okay you disband the union forcing the NBA teams to each have their own set of rules, but here’s the thing in that scenario guaranteed contracts go away, and each team will have an absolute salary cap based on their budget, for every team that spend $100 million there will be 2 or 3 that spend $15 million…that’s what their market will bear. At the end of the day the players are trying to make the owners blink, but everyone knows this, and it’s not going to happen. The players are going to eventually have to settle it’s just a matter of whether they do it now and try to salvage the best deal they can or do they wait and p**s away a bunch of money in lost salaries before they eventually agree to this or a lesser deal.

    • idontevenwannaknow - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      …and I would like the “lesser deal” to go the way of the NHL and install a hard cap. I like how a main reason for the rejection of the proposal was a limit on player movement. Right. They (the players) were just worried that not every team would have the chance to offer them a max deal, or max deal, then sign, then trade. How does a salary cap limit movement in the NFL or NHL? It really doesn’t if you really think about it. Players are free to move team to team in both leagues, it just makes the owners/gms smarter about how they spend their money, not just giving out max contracts to every half-way decent guy that comes along. The stars in the NFL and NHL get paid, just like the stars in the NBA do and should get paid, the big difference I see, especially between the NFL and NBA, not a lot of guys are overpaid to sit on the bench in the NFL. Get rid of guaranteed contracts and install a hard cap, and sit back and watch as owners and their front offices are held accountable. Too many times we see teams handcuffed by misses on contracts, that even after they have fired and hired presidents, gms, etc, teams have to wait years to spend that money on quality talent. Even with a salary cap, true stars will still get paid. Can’t we just get to negotiating, agreeing on something, and playing some fricking basketball?

      • dadawg77 - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:19 PM

        The first thing teams in the NHL and NFL did was look for loop holes in the Cap. See Marion Hossa contract in NHL and how contracts are setup in the NFL for examples. Also without a CBA there is no draft so team spending only $15 million will never compete.

  4. kandh2004 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    To start that process without a vote wasn’t just a big step it was wrong on the people who run the union. I’m in a union and we just got a new contract in April of 2010 and every proposal the union came back and we voted on it weather we turned it down or accepted it. The union is there for the whole membership not just the team reps or the superstars that show up looking out for their own. The union failed the rank and file players big time

  5. dcipher80 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    I don’t understand Hunter and Fisher. The only way this gambit works is if they make the owners believe that the vast majority of the players are ok with losing a season to get a better deal. It’s always come across to me as those 2 trying to save face, and not being overly concerned about the rank and file.

    By the way, thank you Kevin Martin for letting your voice be heard

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:42 PM

      I agree, these two are trying to save face, but they should look at how the NHL lockout in 2004-05 played out to see what the future has in store. Neither side thought that the season would ever be cancelled but neither side would blink, eventually the season is cancelled, the players lost not only a year’s worth of salary but also a year of their career lifespan and what did they get? Several players finally went around Bob Goodenow and the players settled for a deal in July that wasn’t as good as the one they could have had in February.

      If the Union truly believe that they are united and that they are doing the right thing they should put the last offer up for a vote amongst all players NOT just the player reps, afterall if you’re going to cost a player an entire year’s salary they should at least have the chance to be heard.

  6. goforthanddie - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Not putting it to a vote make the union’s case weaker. But that’s fine. Call me when the owners void all current contracts, I have a serious laugh building up for that.

  7. nickp91 - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    If the season is cancelled, NBA Players can’t take part in Next Summer’s Olympics in London.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:22 PM

      Yes, they can. USA Basketball and the NBA are separate entities.

  8. dadawg77 - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Question how many signatures did the players pushing for desertification have? That number could have form the bases for the move.

  9. mrf47 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Jeffrey Kessler is only representing himself in trying to get the ownership stake in the NBA that he never got in the NFL.

    The advice that Kessler just gave his clients is that they are better off not making a minimum of $2 million this year….that’s insane.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:53 PM

      The NFL was in major trouble until one MAJOR thing happened…they took Jeffrey Kessler OUT OF THE NEGOTIATIONS. Until that happens, this will never get resolved. This is the BIGGEST point and it is not being talked about enough!!!!

      • texmex2 - Nov 15, 2011 at 8:44 AM

        You got that right; Kessler is a “doche bag”~

  10. philiplewis1 - Nov 15, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Boy, how much fun would it be if the league started all over with new teams and new players. I would assume that is eventually possible if the union decertifies. What’s to keep the existing teams from signing new players out of college and starting all over. In fact, I wonder if they have that in mind now. I would love to see that actually. New players, new officials, maybe even some new rules to make the NBA more like the college game.

    One more thought, does this mean the Mavericks get a repeat as NBA Champions.

  11. dolfan66r - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Billy Hunter is like a plantation owner!!

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