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. Kenny

    The dirty little secret is no matter how much of a raise they get it will never make up for the lost revenue from this season. It is like shooting off your nose to spite your face.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pepe

    shoulda known better! remember, don't hate the players/hate the games u don't play in.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    Why do people try and make this about race? All this talk of monkeys and white boys is inflammatory at best. The real issue here is the short sighted negotiators on both sides of the table. Alienating your fan base is just bad business.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Plexie

    This is horrible, players only make $5 million per year. As a so-called fan making $60K per year I want to see them make $6 million per year so yes, go ahead and strike.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ron

    You should not be telling someone they lack intelligence when you cannot write a comprehensible statement. There are little things like puntuations in the english language that makes a statement like yours(if written correctly in the first place) better understood. Please look these up and try them.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. clinky

    The main thing I would miss about the NBA if it disappeared forever is that it would make NCAA ball pointless. Professional player salaries have gone to the opposite extreme of what they were before they unionized. You don't necessarily need a union, once you redress all of your injustice. I wouldn't say that about most blue-collar unions, however sports players make millions now. I can't possibly imagine an injustice is done to them if they don't get more money. And two wrongs don't make a right. If there is so much revenue left over from owners, let it all go to charity.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gah

    poor poor actors, poor poor sports players
    so underpaid

    November 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    I hope that the NBA doesn't ever come back and all those players are out of a job. America has to much invested in sports and where has that gotten us? Also shame on you CNN for making this front page news your feeding the machine and not helping anyone.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    I hope every one of those spoiled brats has to lose his salary. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of overpaid, spoiled thugs anyway. I'd keep "offering" them less and less. We complain about corporate greed all the time, but feel sorry for the poor NBA players. Give me a break. Let's go back to the days where these players have to earn their money and just get by like the rest of us.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. beth

    Really .. in this economy, jobs market, unemployment ratio, the NBA players are threatening to bring a class action lawsuit against the NBA. Reality check, anyone? No one is playing for nothing – if a player is lucky enough to make it into the NBA, collect what most would consider a VERY reasonable salary, why the hub-bub? It's most likely not the guy who is on the bench complaining .. it's the Labron James, Coby Bryant's of the game who want more. Shows the selfishness of Americans .. how does the rest of the world view this squabble when there are so many more important things to worry about?

    November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Complete agree.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake poole

      Actually, you are incorrect. You see, top tier players, such as LeBron and Kobe, will always get their money. This IS about the lower level players, and the players that have already retired.

      November 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    Wait, wait, wait. So, instead of getting paid $50 million a year, the players want $500 million a year? I don't understand. They already make more than the president to play a sport that they love for half a year. Yes?

    November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake poole

      you're right, you don't understand.

      November 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anthony Stark

    These guys are the best at what they do...period. Paying top dollar to people who are the best at what they do is how America works. As for the lockout, I wish it were over and I don't really get it. But it seems like some principals are at stake beyond what is being reported. But then again I'm a basketball fan and a lot of you guys aren't. A lot of you are also fat, short and unncoordinated and hate tall athletic black guys. So if you weren't an NBA fan to begin with and like watching baseball, the most boring overpaid sport on earth, save your indignation.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • freerein

      Anthony – I don't fit into the demographic you described since I am educated, healthy and fit, and don't give a hoot what color these selfish sports fools are on either the owner OR the player side. A bunch of millionaires whining over being millionaires – when none of their work involves saving a life, defending the country, or even reading to a child – is absolutely repulsive.

      November 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      I couldnt agree more. Those NBA players deserve every mil coming to them. This game takes skill, dedication and sheer determination. Professional basketball players EARN this money and there is nothing wrong with them wanting as much as they can get because they have put in the time and work to get to this level. You people dont understand that cause your all blue collar workers who dont know the meaning of a buck. You pay for the entertainment in this country..who cares if they make in one year what you may make in a lifetime....stop being selfish. Oh and I'm very fat.

      November 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Laurie in Spokane

    This is so stupid! The players are making millions of dollars for just playing a game, and the team owners seem to want to control every aspect of the players. Let the league die out, bunch of greedy morons.

    November 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SEEYA

    Even if they reconciled this today, and the season went ahead with a shortened schedule, the fans should teach them all a good lesson and stay away. Take next year off too! College ball is looking sweeter and sweeter!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pcat

    Why don't you people stop buying gear and tix? vote with your pocketbook, not your internet rants!

    November 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
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