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. x277

    Oh well, no season this year. Just when I started to get back into the NBA, this happens. Though both parties are to blame, if I had to, I'd side with the owners on this one. A majority of these players are millionaires and the rest still make much much more than the average working American. What are they whining about? The latest terms from the owners seemed reasonable to me. But I guess that's easy for me to say, since I work 40 – 50 hours a week for a mere fraction of what these guys make. Even still I can afford to feed my family and take care of everything else. But I guess once you become a millionaire athlete, it becomes REAL tough to feed your family and take care of your responsibilities. I guess they are scared they will end up like that idiot Latrell Sprewell who couldn't feed his family on 7 million a year, then gets his yacht repoed.

    I remember during the days of Jordan, Bird, and Magic, players actually LOVED THE GAME, these days its just all about money. Let them keep bickering back and forth like a bunch of spoiled brats, they keep it up, their won't be any fans left. Oh well, at least I'll have the NFL until February.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nelson

    Ha ha!

    November 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jocq

    Where's the Harlem Globetrotters when ya need em... Oh, they're entertaining overseas.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      So their jobs have been shipped out as well?

      November 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    The only winners will be the bankruptcy lawyers as the players will be dropping like flies and the family court lawyers who will be defending against all the non-payment of child care charges!!

    November 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Semper fi

    Well maybe now the college players will stay all 5 years,

    November 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay

    Imagine this...

    You have a specialized skill–say you're a science researcher at Harvard with a proven ability to extend the life of medicines. Pfizer, J&J, Abbott, and Novartis are all bidding for your services. You say, "I don't want to give up tenure–if you hire me, you need to guarantee my salary for 10 years at $500k per year." Knowing how much value they'll get from your expertise, Pfizer agrees.

    5 years later, Pfizer says, "Listen, we're losing money, Lipitor is going generic, you need to take a pay cut." You refuse. They say, if you don't accept the pay cut, you're fired.

    "Well," you say, "that's not really legal because we signed a guaranteed contract. But okay, I'll go get another job at J&J; they were willing to pay me before, they'll do it again."

    "No," Pfizer says to you, "you can't. Because we made an agreement with J&J, Novartis, Abbott, and every other Big Pharma company not to pay any researcher more than $250k. None of them will hire you and pay you more than that."

    What would you do in that case? If you had any brains, you'd sue the industry on anti-trust grounds. The CBA has been the only thing keeping the players from doing that. If the owners won't negotiate in good faith without making ridiculous ultimatums, the players have no choice but to take this route.

    If you ask me, the players' biggest mistake was not doing this earlier.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. larry5

    They should just cancel the season right now. The lawyers that appear to be running the show stand to make a lot of money by throwing a monkey wrench into the works. Maybe cancelling the whole season will clear up the vision of the principals involved and they will see what the lawyers have done for them.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Plexie

    the players' demand to raise the average salary.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steven

    REALLY!!!!! In a time of poor economic situations, the NBA players are complaining that they need another 2 million a year minimum? Do they realize that their salary is paid by the people who attend? By not playing they are not only hurting the owners, but the fans and workers at these arenas. Also, if it wasn't for the owners there wouldn't be a team to play on!!!! All NBA fans should go on record to refuse to buy a ticket or even watch a game. I believe the U.S. could go without the NBA longer than all they players can. We as the fans should do a viewer lockout against the players.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KC sports fan

    Long live Major League Soccer! Those guys (with a handful of exceptions) make well under the NBA minimum, go check out a match next season and watch the MLS Cup on the 20th. Those are real athletes!

    November 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Do What...

    OCCUPY NBAPA!

    November 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Plexie

    That picture is just a collection of clueless pouting clowns.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Name*bobby

    Gooooooooooool goal lol

    November 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mental1981

    PEOPLE PLEASE STOP IT. If you so strongly believe that the players don't deserve their pay then go down to Wall Street with a sign that says, "Less money for the greedy Players, more in the Pockets of the Billionaire owners!" Do you realize that the NBA pulled in over $3.8 Billion last year, and that's after losing money on some teams. Now if the players were to take home less money I guess you're supporting the Billionaire owners taking home more money. You know not all NBA teams lost money last season. If there's a company with 30 engineers and 5 executives, and the company brought in 3 million in a year, would it be fair for the engineers to take home less than 30K a year while the executives took home over $250k a year? This is the goal of the current NBA negotiations, owners can't run a smarter business to reap profits so they sign bloated contracts on bad deals, and when it fails, they go to cut salaries and fire employees. Typical American capitalists. The players, on the other hand, have already given up over $600,000,000.00 over these negotiations, only to have Stern offer them $2 mil a year in return in salaries. What type of swindle is that? Who in their right mind would even consider such a thing? Yet we expect these "Guys who just through a piece of leather around" to do the same. Well guess what, that leather brings in Billions to teams, who in turn squander them foolishly, fyi, not the players faults. And if the teams are losing money it's not because of player's salaries, it's because real estate and overhead has become unaffordable. For instance the Magics built a new stadium costing over $480,000,000.00, do you really think that Gilbert Arenas' $17 mil a year off the bench contract is really the cause of their losses?

    November 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      I think your an idiot, the players are down right greedy. They should be happy with the huge money they are on and I believe they are overpaid for playing basketball. Average of $2 Million is enough for peopel who throw balls around a court for 1/2 the year.
      Their strike action is affecting many other people who reply on their weekly salary to survive on, pay bills and put food on the table, not for unused sports cars in the garage.

      November 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stinkin latino

      U r totally right! Richard is just another blind idiot who is in reality jealous of the players. That blinds him to the greed of the owners as well.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Plexie

      They play basketball on Wall Street?

      November 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darrell

      So in reading your post are you saying that a business owner should receive less than his or her employee? Question is why be in business then. Without the league whould the players be who they are today? Businesowners would just find other ways or other business ventures to make their money to be rich.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sambo

      Now they will have plenty of time to be shot at outside a strip club at 3AM. no loss. It hasn't been real basketball ball since about 1980. no skill, just travel with the ball and dunk it.

      November 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Plexie

    Haha, people are offended while reporting this post as abuse, the exact response expected. Won't6 change the fact that black H.S. dropout rate is near 50% and incarceration rate is above all other races. I suggest that that is much more important than the NBA, but hey, I have a lampshade on my head.

    November 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
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