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. Charlou

    Some of them make more money in a year than someone may make in a life time. That is why I do not look at pro basketball , I prefer to look at College Basketball those guys be playing the game from the heart for the love of the game but the pro players play to see who can out shine the other and to see who can get their name out there. They all are selfish and only care about themselves not the fans who come out to support them . Hope the owners get all new players and let all the old scubs go get a 9-5 see what they think of those salaries.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. G

    Nobody ever comments about the greedy, overpaid owners of the teams. I guess that's the American way. Get mad at the worker for making too much but not the CEO.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Maximus

    Hey NBA....your league sucks!! Oh, and your last 2 fans just walked out the door.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. b10mtrk

    This is simply a labor dispute where both parties have decided the offers and counteroffers are unacceptable and have decided to engage in an economic “war” to achieve improved provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. The owners and the union, each, believe they can outlast the other party – economically speaking. Neither the owners’ investments nor the players’ earnings are germane to anyone other than the two parties. At some point the dispute will be resolved; current threats and counter-threats notwithstanding.

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

    Watching millionaire sportsters squabble over the kind of money they squeeze from their fans is disgusting. I'm glad they are not playing. Hopefully the fans will learn from this.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John in Dallas

    Why should the players settle? It's funny everyone thinks you should just be happy to be there, just like in your own jobs. Just being happy to be there gets you nowhere. Settling for second best gets you nowhere. If you lack ambition and want to be happy you have a job at min wage, that's on you. These players have ambition and a skill and did what many of you preach: picked themselves up by their bootstraps out of poverty. And yes many have a degree, so to call them uneducated is quite the stretch. If you as fans are willing to pay out millions of dollars in game tix, merchandise, etc, then players should get as much of a piece of that pie as they can. They are the ones playing the game.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Simple: because it's the best deal they're ever going to get. They're not going to win their lawsuit, assuming the courts are willing to hear their argument at all. After an entire year with NO INCOME (except for the big superstars that can play in Europe, and those are the ones who rejected the offer), most of the players will be desperate and they'll come crawling back to the owners and will accept EVEN LESS than what they turned down today. Don't believe me? IT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NHL PLAYERS.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Right, try playing without the owners. They are welcome to play against each other the the court in the park. No one is stopping them.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      John... you're assuming that their degrees mean anything.

      You CAN be a college graduate and be uneducated.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      They were offered a 50 percent share of the revenue, moron. They turned it down.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      OMG, you are a moron, they get paid millions a year, they are getting paid PLENTY!!! While we all work paycheck to paycheck (if even employed) these fools are crying about not making enough millions to PLAY A GAME.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • snacky

      Yes, they may have a degree in TV. 99% of the time these guys dont go to school to get an education, they are just there to put the ball in the hoop, everything else takes care of itself automatically.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott

      The players are spoiled beyond belief. They are already making huge salaries, paid for by the owners. If they want to have it all, let them start their own league and form their own teams. Let them try to run the business. They will have to secure leases for places to play, negotiate contracts with television networks and yes, they will have to get business licenses. They want to be players AND owners. Let them do the owners work. I hope they fail in their lawsuit.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      They are playing a game that only exists cause of the educated people that created it. Do you think you should make more than your boss? No, labor never has and never will and never should make more than management. These guys are only there to make money for the owners, just like the guys in the UAW are only there to make money for the owners (stock holders) of those businesses. Sorry but the grunts (the players in this case) do not deserve half the revenue. They have no brain power, only physical power and thus should be treated as such. Think of say, the guy hammering the nails building a home. He makes nothing like what the GC makes and thats the way it should be.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • lancem

      Every employee has the right to request/demand any salary they want. It is the owners (or who ever is running the companies) responsibility to make sure that what they pay the employee is in line with the profits they are making (i.e. a company can't keep losing money and continue to pay the same salaries...it just doesn't work).

      November 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chance

      I agree. i wish they didnt get paid as much as they do but thats just an opinion. Id rather see drs, firemen, and teachers get paid like super stars. However, as you mentioned, as long as fans are willings to pay for the product then the players have a legitimate reason to negotiate their pay.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guest

    We love basketball, have never missed watching our team but......haven't missed it at all. It will be interesting (someday) to see how many fans (customers) are forever weaned as a result of this situation.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • lancem

      I was weaned as a part of the last major labor dispute and haven't really missed it. I probably watch less than e games a year now, including the playoffs. I'm guessing there will be many fans that won't return.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stan

    Most basketball games have 12 minutes of any significant playing time, the last quarter. Eat some fries, have some beer – and wait for the 4th quarter. You won't miss much. In other sports like MLB, NHL, NFL and even soccer, the ENTIRE game is significant. Nothing like an MLB baseball game if you ask me.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • brandon

      If you got a whole day to sit and watch a ball then it's great. Baseball is too damn long. Get rid of it

      November 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wen

      Nothing much more boring than baseball.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • reason

      Its because you don't love basketball. True basketball fans watch the whole game, not just a quarter. I can say the same about baseball, not paying attention until the last couple of innings, and that's because I'm not as interested in it. But to say that only the last quarter is significant is ignorant, as what happens during any of the first 3 quarters have a significant impact in how a game plays out at the end (as it is with any other sport).

      November 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Military in San Antonio

      Mmmmm......how are the other sports different from basketball in that 'the WHOLE game is significant'....where it's not the case in basketball?

      You statement makes no sense at all.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • reason

      @retired military: read my response again, I said they are all significant (each sport, every inning/quarter counts).

      November 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Military in San Antonio

      My comment was directed at Stan.....

      November 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • reason

      @retired military: my apologies.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bobby

    The NBA is done for the near future, it will need another Micheal Jordan to come around in 10 years to bring it out of the ashes. So the owners want 50% of proceeds? Don't they take all the risks, pay all the expenses, lose Money when the team loses money or they pay a player that gets hurt or underachieved, my point is they take all the risks but the players want the reward. 50% is generous, greedy players....this is what happens when unions are involved. Good bye NBA. Canceling my directv nba package tonight. just saved $300.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott

      Your letter is spot on. Hope many others agree with you and follow your lead in canceling your sports package.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Military in San Antonio

      By canceling your sports package, you just took money away from the.....ok......wait for it, now.....the OWNERS!!!!

      Seriously, though.....AFAIC......the owners' position is base purely on the notion that they lost something like $300 million last season. Yet.....they don't want to open their books to show these losses. Sounds fishy to me.......jus' sayin'.....

      November 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    I still don't understand why unions seem to feel that they are guaranteed increases, in salary and benefits, if they go on strike. And that they have any standing to sue, if they don't.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      If the owners get one then so should the players.eventually. It should be like any other job.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Didn't you know, nobody can live on millions a year, jeez.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Miss Mary

    Wouldn't it be nice to get back to professional players playing because they love the game – not for money??> And then we could afford to go to games again.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Mary...if the players agreed to play for $10/nite, you still couldn't afford the tickets.. the owners, the league, and other "interests" would never abandon their gravy train. The players just want an equal share. If there are going to be concessions, it has to be on both sides...and that ain't happening.......

      November 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chandler

      Why should it only be the players that show a love for the game? Why dont you expec the owners to show some respect? And it is the owners and venues that cause the outrageous ticket prices. The players are the ones who are actually working for the sport.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. IndyJim

    Hire new players coming out of college, limit salaries to no more than 2 million dollars, reduce the cost of tickets by 70 percent, and lets start over.

    I for one could care less that the game as we know it today is possibly going to not play this season.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobby

      Great idea!!!! Scabs!!!! Screw the players!!!!!!!!!

      November 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      Agreed – this is a good plan. Bold but effective in my opinion.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Military in San Antonio

      Pffttt......you guys really gonna pay to watch what essentually would be MINOR LEAGUE basketball?

      If so.....just stroll on down to the nearest Developemental League (D-League) and enjor.

      Me? I'll take a pass......

      November 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Anthony

    We don't feel sorry for the already millionaires from either side. Basketball will not be missed,
    since college ball is so much more interesting.......

    November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Dugout

    Where is the story about the real losers in this whole mess? The people that work at the stadiums/arenas? I'll bet that the majority, if not all, rely upon the seasonal work at these venues (from the person that takes your ticket when you enter to the person that walks around selling cotton candy to the people that clean up after a game). Are the owners and NBA doing anything to help them out? Or are they just part of the 99% and told to deal with it.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Spaz

    Basketball died a decade ago. The modern era of "flop and hope for a call" plus corrupt refs makes the game unappealing to watch. R.I.P. NBA, hopefully something better will come out of this.

    November 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Yup, basketball is dead.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67