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 ‚Äúcollective bargaining process has completely broken down,‚ÄĚ 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. huskersrock1

    The lawyers win again!

    November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BrianP

    Are you kidding me!?! People still watch basketball?!?

    November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. amj

    There is no room for such ignorant, intolerant words.. You really should be ashamed of yourself!!1

    November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tennisguy

    College is more exciting to watch. There will be alot more college games on TV earlier than has been in the past. NBA risks greater loss of interest and the ones that will benefit are the college programs. Good for college.

    BTW, how are those guys doing in China, Europe or where ever they went (enjoy the sticky rice!)

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

    Have to say this makes my day. Unfortunately they will eventually come to an agreement, at which time they will go back to being applauded while making millions playing a dumb game. A game where you can whine and complain for free throws if someone barely brushes by you, usually after you've already released the shot. Boring and pathetic.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jared In Orlando

    They make millions a year! The local business that are around the arenas and rely on the games being played are the ones suffering. THis is grossly American. Move on guys and play some ball! For the love of the game not the love of the dollar!

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

      Okay, someone needs to explain being in a union. Yes a few guys make millions in a year, but many more in the league don't. These guys are fighting for EVERYONE in the league to make decent wages for putting their health, safety and life on the line. You may agree or disagree, but to say that they are millionaires asking for more millions is completely erroneous. And to someone who commented earlier that owners take all the risk, I'd ask you if an owner ever tore their ACL or damaged their body to a point where they were disabled as they sat in their box office and watched the game?

      November 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CJ

    The product on the court has deteriorated over the past 15 years. Michael Jordon and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were all Basketball Players. They knew how to pass and how to play defense. They knew the fundamentals of the game. Part of the problem is all these kids coming right out of High School. The league is no good and the owners are equally to blame for allowing this to happen.

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

      LOL – do some research.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Read somewhere that the AVERAGE salary in the NBA is 7.7 MILLION per year. And they complain?! Where do I sign up for that kind of "mistreatment"?

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

    It's not like this is the only thing they know how to do! I'm sure there are lots of high paying jobs for people who can't read but can jump high!!!!!

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

    I believe any pro athelete deserves as much as they can get out of their field of expertise-Their shelflife is short and often tenous.However, this is stupid on the player's part.They been given just about everything they want but that doesnt seem to be enuf.F em I dont care let the season go east to Europe.I hope the NBA folds 4ever

    November 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I don't even feel sorry for the $12 hotdog venders.

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

    Both sides have put out a "S.O.S." distress call.........................the only problem is that their fan base now considers S.O.S. "Selfishness on Steroids!"

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

    Good! Hope the NBA fades into history!!
    This is the kind of pathetic sh!t that mystifies me. The players & owners make way too much for what they do. While others are having trouble putting meal on their tables, these people are squabbling over the millions they make per year.
    This is a symptom of a greater underlying problem. They are part of the 1%ers and should be treated accordingly!

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

    Who cares? The NBA has turned into nothing more that a crude marketing scheme anyway. Status granted to marquee players that allow them to get away with rules violations. Officials gambling on games they work. In fact, the officiating is so poor, unless you have other means of detecting it, you couldn't possibly tell with all the special status given to elite players. The NBA, owners, players, and the commissioner all deserve to be deserted by the fans, who are the true losers in all of this.

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

    What a bunch of crybabies. These guys picked the wrong time to talk about how unfair it is that they only make megabucks, instead of more megabucks...

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