NBA players reject league offer; begin to disband union
Derek Fisher speaks on behalf of the NBA players afte they rejected the league's latest deal.
November 14th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

NBA players reject league offer; begin to disband union

The NBA players have rejected the league's latest offer and are beginning the process to disband the union.

The decision likely jeopardizes the season, according to the NBA Players Association.

The “collective bargaining process has completely broken down,” NBA Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter said.

Hunter added that the players were not willing to accept any "ultimatums" from NBA Commissioner David Stern and felt things were not going to get any better.

"We're prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA," Hunter said. "That's the best situation where players can get their due process."

Hunter announced that the group was moving to disband the union, which would be  converted to a trade association. This move would mean that all of the players would now be represented by legal counsel in a class action suit against the NBA. Hunter said the players will be represented by David Boies, who is known for his work during the NFL and Microsoft anti-trust lawsuits.

According to NBA.com, while the players have decided to disband the union, they are not de-certifying it - a point they say is a major difference.

"The players are filing a disclaimer of interest, an antitrust action against the league within the next two days," the post on NBA.com says. "In basic terms, they are taking the league to court."

The process could mean drawing out an already lengthy bargaining process, and could dash all hopes the NBA had that players would accept their latest offer and start a shortened 72-game season in about a month.

Derek Fisher, the union president for the players, said it was "the best decision for the players."

SI.com: Players take to Twitter after rejecting offer

"I want to reiterate that point, that a lot of individual players have a lot of things personally at stake in terms of their careers and where they stand," Fisher said. "And right now they feel it's important - we all feel it's important to all our players, not just the ones in this room, but our entire group - that we not only try to get a deal done for today but for the body of NBA players that will come into this league over the next decade and beyond."

In an ESPN interview, Commissioner David Stern had sharp words for the NBPA, particular executive director Billy Hunter and union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, whom he said "walked away" from the negotiating table.

Stern blamed Billy Hunter, the players' association executive director, saying Hunter "has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday."

He said the union refused to "bargain in good faith" and that the NBA anticipated the players' union being disbanded.

The owners' latest offer called for a 50-50 split of revenues between the owners and players, he said.

Stern accused Hunter of not putting the NBA's latest proposal to a vote. The proposal, which came after more than two years of negotiating, addressed many of the players' concerns - including the revenue split between players and owners, the hard salary cap, guaranteed contracts and average player salaries, which Stern said would have risen at least $2 million annually with the latest NBA offer.

"We are about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA," the commissioner said. "If I were a player in the NBA ... I'd be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter just did."

The move by the NBPA to disband and sue, Stern said, is an "irresponsible" and poorly timed ploy to strengthen the players' negotiating position. Asked if he was moved by the players' resolve, Stern took exception, saying today's move "won't be classified historically as resolve. They've been badly misled."

Asked whether the 2011-2012 season will be wiped out, he said 30 days would be needed between an agreement and the beginning of games, "and now we have no one to negotiate with."

To the fans, Stern said he was sorry and that the league would try to win them back, but he could not predict when the players might take the court again. For one, a deal needs to be in place 30 days before any tipoff, and now, Stern said, there is no one to negotiate with.

Team owners locked out players in early July as the two sides tried to hammer out a new agreement. League Commissioner Stern has said the previous season was not profitable for most of the league's 30 owners, who are seeking a bigger share of league revenues.

In addition to the revenue issue, points of contention in the negotiations include the owners' plan to strengthen a salary cap and the players' demand to raise the average salary.

soundoff (1,594 Responses)
  1. Joe

    I never watch basketball so I could care if these teams ever play.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. College Fan

    I haven't watched the NBA in 25 years, who cares? There has been no public outcry for pro basketball and there won't be. With rare exception, most are thugs.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Fire all players. Start again with players required to have college degree from 4 year school, min. 3.75 GPA.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Caliconor

    I enjoyed the NBA and enjoyed going to games in the past, but this whole thing completely turns me off to watching anymore. When the Baseball players went on strike, the sport was in turmoil after it and they lost a lot of money.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CmonNow11

    Thats good news! I hope basketball doesnt come back until there is a salary cap of, say $200,000. Thats plenty for what they do – and they will still have endorsements, which are not capped.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Robert2U

    Greed on both sides, pure and simple. Maybe the season ticket holders should form a trade association and file an anti-trust claim against the players and owners for price fixing. How about filing suit for non performance.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • marcus

      finally, a voice of reason. i agree, its millionaires fighting over the millions of dollars for the minority. the fans and spectators have no vote and they're the majority. i would love the opportunity to dictate how much i get paid based on the earnings of the company i'm working for. is there another scenario that anyone is aware of where this happens?

      November 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joey

    Derek Fisher stated the average NBA player lives through 40 years of post-basketball retirement, so retirement planning/funding is critical. The "average player" however also makes 5 million/yr.... The average American family doesn't make that in a lifetime and has to plan retirement the hard way – working through it!
    Yo Derek – put some of that 5mil into a 401 and get a real job after you leave the NBA, you still be doing way better than most.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Johnny B Goode

    Crickets... (that's the sound of no one caring). If they think they can make more elsewhere, let them try....

    November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Friedman

    Loved the MBA in years past.
    Season ticket holder once.
    But, will not miss you (1%)..........

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greg

    Go ahead players, give up 16.7% of your lifetime earning power this year (average NBA career is 6 years). Yopu have been way overpaid and had too much power for years.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dreamer96

    Maybe these NBA teams should be owned by the fans, like the Green Bay Pckers are owned by their fans....

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • dreamer96

      Sorry for typo, Green Bay Packers...

      November 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bob

    Unbelievable. I love watching the Bulls, but this is just ridiculous. Hellooooo NHL

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mp3trojan

    NBA....what's is that? National Ballers Assn? Gansta hoopsters? Good riddance! Bunch of overpaid children with their tattoos and bling bling. I hope they all go broke and CAN'T COME BACK. Do them like The Gipper done the air traffic controllers.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rookie

      funny...will any on here get the Reagan reference though?...judging by some posts I doubt it lol....

      November 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rookie

    Dear Commissioner Stern and NBAPA
    I Have a suggestion...players can have 51% of league revenue, HOWEVER, in the event of decrease in team revenue (measured monthly), player contracts will adjust accordingly (on a month to month basis). For the players it means: No more mailing it in, no more acting unprofessional (in season or out), and getting real market value for your services to the team AND community. For owners it means less financial risk, since salary burden will decrease and are also capped by ceiling of individual contracts but it also means allowing players FULL access to the books!. for coaches, it means players shwo up ready to practice, it means greater liklihood for teamwork and inhouse policing (players keeping players in-line) since everyones pay is affected regularly. Players if you want a bigger piece of the pie take the level of responsibility to go with it! Owners if you are gonna cry about profitability then open up the books entirely....win win

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul Blask

    I'm thinking it's time for the owners to do to the players what the President did to the air traffic controllers in 1981. Fire all of them and start over. I'd rather have players that want to play than for a bunch of greedy young men who think the world revolves around them.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • The all potent one

      So then any former player is then blacklisted or can only sign a contract at a lower pay then before? Guess your not an anti trust lawyer are ya?

      November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I completely agree with you. So many of the sports have been ruined in just the same way. The athletes think it is their given right to make gobs of money and be complete "a" holes at the same time.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • I support the Players

      The NBA's players aren't asking for more money... they're debating with the owners about how much less money they should get. They're willing to compromise to get the season started again.

      If the players are greedy then what does that make the billionaire owners who don't want to pay their employees what they're worth?

      Without the NBA, these players can still make money overseas. Without the players, an NBA franchise is worthless.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Fire all players. Start again only with college grad's who've graduated with minimum 3.5 average.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. zacho925

    I say just get rid of the NBA...basketball at the professional level is a dying sport anyways. College is much more exciting, not to mention the players play for love of the game not for the outrageous paychecks.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • SPACE IS NEWS!

      actually, MOST play hoping to make it TO THE NBA. College is a means to an end. Granted, a lot play for other reasons. I of course prefer college to pro, but if the pros didnt exist college sports would be affected, a lot.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
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