Commissioner David Stern and his band of greedy NBA owners had been basking in the glow of their complete annihilation of the players on the negotiating table.
The owners wanted a higher luxury tax on teams that go over the salary cap threshold, they got it. The owners wanted to reduce the years on guaranteed contracts, they got it. The last remaining chip for the players, the basketball-related income or BRI, went down faster than the stock market. The owners wanted a 50-50 split on BRI, they got it.
The collective bargaining negotiations have become a complete blowout for Stern, his deputy Adam Silver, and the hardliners led by Peter Holt of the San Antonio Spurs, Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers and Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even the great Michael Jordan, once the face of the National Basketball Players Association during the 1998 NBA lockout, has joined the dark side.
Yahoo! Sports basketball writer Adrian Wojnarowski compared the one-sided labor talks to a 30-point blowout on the basketball court. Stern and the owners throwing alley-oop passes, pressing fullcourt, keeping their starters in late in the fourth quarter as they run up the score on the players.
On Monday, the NBPA finally had enough. Union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter put an end to the owners’ in-your-face celebration by slapping an antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Fisher went Kevin McHale on Stern, clotheslining him on a breakaway and dropping him on the floor like Kurt Rambis.
Fisher and the more than 400 members of the players’ association are disbanding as a union and are taking the NBA to court. Not the basketball court, but the court of law. Fisher told members of the media who were gathered in New York for the NBPA press conference that the players cannot comment further on the current state of the lockout because of legal issues.
This is something basketball fans have been fearing for months, which is a lost 2011-12 season, but it had to be done. The disclaimer of interest Hunter referenced to the media is not something the majority wanted but it was the only way to stop the owners from railroading the players.
The NBA players have been and are willing to negotiate a fair deal. The mere fact that they moved down from 57% to 50% on BRI should have told the owners that they are conceding and just wanted to save face and avoid further humiliation. All the players wanted at this point was a little tweak in the system so they can have a little bit of freedom in free agency. That’s all.
But the owners laughed at that last request from the players and proceeded to slap high fives and kept piling on. The owners didn’t want just a slice of the pie, they wanted the whole box and the sauce.
The players didn’t want to file the antitrust lawsuit, but the owners forced their hand. The NBA lockout continues because the owners are unwilling to call off the dogs. The owners were not satisfied with a blowout victory. They wanted to absolutely destroy the union. That is the biggest reason why the 2011-12 season is in jeopardy.
Gordon Gekko may have said that “greed is good.” But in these tough economic times, greed is definitely not the answer to solving the current state of the NBA system.
Even though the lawsuit is now hanging over everyone’s heads, it doesn’t mean either side cannot continue to negotiate. Stern and the owners can still reach out to the players, but they have to deal with their lawyers first. Nonetheless, there is still a six-week window in which both sides can get back to the table and hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.
The players have said all along that they are open to negotiate with the owners, and there is still time to save the season. It is up to the owners to extend their hand and meet the players halfway.