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. Kells Bells

    I don't really think the owners should be able to walk away with ALL of the cash. The whole reason they're rich in the first place is because of the fans that come to watch the players. Without the players, no fans. No fans = no cash.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colonel

      Actually, I think most of the owners made their money doing something else and turned to professional basketball as kind of an expensive hobby. You are right, though, they are not in it to lose money and the players are the draw.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Reynold Price

    This is really good news because it's going to shine a light on the rampant greed that permeates ALL professional sports. The owners and the players alike have become accustomed to ridiculous earnings from GAMES. They are so out of touch with the "real world" where millions cannot find work that I hope the entire league disintegrates and has to be rebuilt anew. Seriously, this is great news.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Will

    Ahh, the usual mundane quarter-witted (not even half-witted) laments. Look, in the history of basketball in this world of ours no one and I do mean NO ONE has EVER paid one cent to watch an owner, any owner at any time put on a pair of sneakers and shorts and play a damned thing. The players are the league, period. As for greed, don't just look at the players salaries look at all of the leagues revenue then you'll see that the players aren't asking for too much. After all, no owner ends up like Dick Butkus who until major surgery couldn't turn his head without turning his whole body because of neck injuries or Jim McMahon who now days can't remember what happened 15 minutes ago due to concussions he suffered during his career. When the owners start having the same type injuries that last for the rest of their lives then I'll listen to those greedy punks whine about the return on their investment. Always looking for someone to exploit. Fact is this hate towards working people is present again in this debacle and we're now seeing it beat down. The players will win this one too. Lastly, the owners and people that think that the owners are taking any type of risk are nuts. What would you do if someone demanded you take a 7-10 percent deduction in pay? Something for nothing, always the case. Stop having flashbacks of Reagan and the air traffic controllers and get some therapy or a damned excorcism. The mess that I'm reading is proof that some folks should be forced to stay in Darwins waiting room. A kids game? I guess that's true for hockey, baseball and football also? Is is it a kids game only when it comes to NBA players? All sports salaries are thru the roof. NO human being is worth what any professional athlete is paid. Long ago the sports franchise ownership started because people saw the money that could be generated and the owners greed was the intention even at its inception. Go back and look at what some of the players had to go through and you'll see why they're reacting the way they are now. These owners should be speculating on wall street and not with sports franchises.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Sorry, "reduction" in pay.

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

      Oh please. Any professional sports person chooses to play himself to the point of irreversible injury because they all want the big money. Get off you high horse – no one deserves that much money (not an owner , not a player ) and no one should be stuck paying $100/ticket to support these idiots, on either side.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. quitsa

    Finally, we will not be stuck with some oversized arrogant brats playing to the end of June. Guess they will try to collect unemployment

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      quitsa, it's not that they played "to the point of causing irreversible damage" to themselves. it's that they played at all. many of these guys have injuries that started in high school and or college. my point is that they incur the real risk while the owners incur their risk while sitting in a luxury box. that's not even capitalism, that's exploitation.

      November 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Change the name

    They don't play basketball there anymore anyway. One guy moves around and takes shots while 9 other guys stand around. Watch hockey, it's much more entertaining.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NBA NO FUTURE & NO MONEY

    I will not WATCH KOBE, LEBRON JAMES, ALLL THE OVER PAID TEAMS......

    I wish these UNIONS just shut up and play the DAMN GAME. They have to open their big mouth. WE NEED BIGGER WAGES.... BIGGER WAGES THAN MICHAEL JORDAN, KOBE, AND LEBRON.

    You crazy!!! CRAZY!!!!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Thomas

    Season was too long anyway....
    I don't think the players have fully realized that the world won't miss them as much as they did football. Or even baseball for that matter...

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LuisWu

    Oh yes, my heart bleeds for the poor, under-payed players. Cue the violin music.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. weimtrainer

    Spoiled milionaire players fighting with spoiled milionaire owners, all at the expense of the fans. Boycott them for a few years and bring them all back to Earth. Neither group are the Gods they believe themselves to be. The world will survive without Pro Basketball, Football, or Baseball, where the "common man" can't affotrd to take his family to a game anyway.

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

    It's pretty disgusting both ways. Both of these greedy sides won't budge, disgusting. It's amazing that we're in a deep recession, having trouble paying, as someone else pointed out, our military, vets, etc... my kids have many hours less in school because of understaffed school systems, and these mofo's are talking about how many more millions they want and deserve because they bring the show, yet the other side complains that they don't owe them as much because they own it. It's unreal, and I hope they NBA never comes back from this. Isn't it enough, on both sides, to make the money they do, they need more? Isn't it already 50/50, damn, I bet general workers would love that amount of money, and they are the ones that do the work!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WD

    Raise your hand if you're actually sad about this......anyone?.....oh well.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nitrous

    Well it's back to the schoolyard! Wait – I dropped out of school!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jay

    Lebron James and the Miami Heat destroyed the NBA. Colluding to create a 'super team' while every other team is struggling shows a complete lack of regard for the other teams in the NBA. Lebron and the Heat cheated to create a super team while every other team is hemoraging money.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BR-Arizona

    I am done with Basketball and won't return. Players especially and then owners don't give a D A M N about fans. They sure don't care how many peoples salaries are tied to the arenas and businesses around the areas. They have now killed their golden goose. Shame on them.

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

      Boycott the NBA!! Even if and when it does come back... Boycott the NBA for a solid year! No tickets... no NBA merchandise... no NBA jerseys... no NBA satellite/cable packages... NOTHING!

      November 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. daveinla

    I have never understood players unions. Industrial unions yes, but when you are an athelete getting paid millions to do something you love to do...I dont get it.

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

      Millions of dollars to play a game kids play....pro sports is out of control!

      November 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristal

      thats the key work playing a game and making millions yet feeling your underpaid

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