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Players file first antitrust suit in Minnesota, official one in California

Nov 15, 2011, 11:29 PM EDT

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Well, the NBA is in the courts now, not on the courts.

Four players — Anthony Tolliver, Ben Gordon, Caron Butler and recent No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams (who does not yet have an NBA contract) — became the first plaintiffs in a players suit to challenge the lockout on antitrust grounds. This first lawsuit was filed in Minnesota and was a class action representing all players. Minnesota is where the NFL players filed their case, a place the players see as friendly to their case.

However, that was not the main suit filed by the players antitrust attorneys. It was a different action and one some reports suggest the union was surprised by.

A second — and the players’ official — suit was filed in Northern California with the plaintiffs being Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe and Kawhi Leonard (another rookie without a contract).

The first lawsuit states (according to the AP) that the owners’ lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act.”

The players are framing this as a restraint of trade issue, saying the owners’ proposed CBA would have damaged the free market for players to ply their trade.

This lawsuit was made possible by Billy Hunter and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) leadership filing a “disclaimer of interest” Monday, essentially saying the union was no longer interested in representing the players in contract negotiations. This legal strategy is the course NBA player team representatives decided to take Monday.

The next move by the players will be to file for summary judgement — a ruling from a judge that they win on the facts alone.

The league will soon step in and first challenge the entire disclaimer as a sham, saying essentially that the union has been negotiating for two years, it can’t just walk away and say it’s not a union anymore.

The second battle will be over venue. The owners filed a preemptive lawsuit trying to block union decertification in August, and they filed it in New York. One of the first issues to be decided will be if these cases need to be in the same venue and decided by one judge, and if so which venue.

This is just the start of the legal wrangling that could well doom the entire NBA season.

  1. ranksarot - Nov 15, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    greed and stupidity. bye bye nba

  2. cbaber26 - Nov 15, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    Could the rookies have filed these suits months ago, since they aren’t under contract and were never officially in the union?

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      No. It doesn’t matter if you have a contract or not (FA) or even if you have never been in the union (unsigned rookies). As long as the league is functioning under the protection of collective bargaining, then they are not subject to anti-trust laws. That is why the union had to disclaim its interests as the bargaining representative before the individual players could file their suits. Its an issue you will certaintly hear argued when they file their briefs and make their oral arguments in this case: labor law vs anti-trust law. The players will argue this is strictly an anti-trust matter as their is no longer a union, the owners will argue that this is still a labor law issue as simply disclaiming interest or decertifying a union does not immediately change the circumstance (labor law and anti-trust cannot co-exists, under the law it is either or).

  3. djfinch8423 - Nov 16, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    I think these guys are acting like kids,
    With all due respect there making millions of dollars to play a kids game.
    They need to grow up and act like adults!!!!

  4. yournuts - Nov 16, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    cbaber26, No, you need to have been under contract before you could sue, but I don’t think that would stop this Union and the union boses from trying anything because they are money hungry. What a sham! The players will do anything to steal money, imagine forcing your boss to become your partner! It is a shot in the dark! I wonder which one of the rhode scholar’s union boys thought this one up? I hope it takes them 3 years to decertify.

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      Well that is clearly wrong. See my previous post for more information, but certainly you don’t have to have previously been under contract before you can sue – for evidence see the 2 suits already filed which have rookies as named plaintiffs (same was the case for the NFL suit earlier this year).

    • 6thsense79 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      Its clear you don’t know what you’re talking about yournuts. No other business in the us likes union except pro sports leagues. When was the last time you heard Walmart or Verizon complain because its employees wanted to decertify their union?

      The owners need the cloak of a union agreed cba in order to legally have draft, cap salaries, and have a league wide team salary cap. So in every regards the players are partners. If ownership don’t want or like that set up that’s fine but then people like you shouldn’t go around crying for owners getting sued.

  5. rreducla1 - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    That’s Rhodes Scholar, there, big dog. If you want to use the plural of “scholar”, no apostrophe is required.

    If you’re going to make fun of other people for being dumb, you should think about learning to spell and use punctuation correctly–and you might want to start with your handle.

  6. diablito0402 - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:48 AM

    Come on man this is not an english or spelling class, we are here commenting on these basketball employees demanding power and MORE money,,, really?

    • rreducla1 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

      Like most of the ownerfanboys, you have shown me nothing but emotion for weeks around here. If you have some facts, contextual awareness, and knowledge, bring them. The players went down 7 points of BRI, and you say they are “demanding more money and power.” By that “reasoning”, the owners and players should both demand 90/10, and stand firm. Ever ask yourself why they don’t?

      As far as yournuts, he deserves the snark.

  7. rreducla1 - Nov 16, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Good posts by both 6thsense and hail2theskins.

  8. suhnum1fan - Nov 16, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    The players will not win in this…plain and simple

  9. acieu - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Someone is going to make a lot of money out of the law suits…..the attorneys.

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