Derek Fisher's email questions agents' motives for decertification
With various reports indicating that a number of high-level agents are pushing for the NBA players union to decertify, Lakers guard and NBA Players Assn. President Derek Fisher sent an email to his colleagues that questions the agents motives and asks for continued support of the players union.
"If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me?" Fisher wrote in an email obtained by Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick. "Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I'm working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don't make a commission, I don't make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.
It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives.
Fisher has long opposed decertification at this point for several reasons. The players union is waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to act on a complaint the players filed in May, alleging that the NBA did not bargain in good faith before the collective-bargaining agreement expired June 30. Even though decertification allows players to sue the NBA under antitrust laws and possibly secure an injunction to end the lockout, it's possible the move would also lead to an expensive and drawn out legal case.
Fisher earlier reframed what exactly went on in Tuesdays' meetings that led the players union, including himself, to predict that the NBA season won't start on time.
What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides. The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.
So it is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement we as a smaller group deemed reasonable.
Meanwhile, Fisher and Billy Hunter, executive director of the players union will meet with players in Las Vegas Thursday where they will also hear from DeMaurice Smith from the NFL player's union. The letter obviously shows a few things: Fisher's trying to set the tone for Thursday's meeting as players are more worried about the possibility of a lost season. He's trying to add hope that perhaps the owners will break ranks, though, despite the long deliberations in Tuesday's meeting, have still put on a united front. And Fisher remains the right person in his speech and demeanor in advocating the players' cause. Still, it's claer that the union itself remains disorganized in its message and approach in negotiations.
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Photo: NBA Players Assn. President Derek Fisher, left, and union director Billy Hunter prepare to speak to reporters after meeting with owners' representatives in New York on Aug. 31. (Henny Ray Abrams / Associated Press / August 31, 2011)