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Category: Lockout

NBA lockout: League needs to stop power-play tactics

David Stern/Adam Silver

Throughout this NBA lockout, the league has demonstrated its power simply for the sake of showing who's in charge.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has often set arbitrary deadlines for the players union to accept a deal even if both sides could conceivably negotiate past the dates. Both the owners and players union appeared on the verge last week of accepting a deal that would have entailed a 50-50 split in basketball-related income, resulting in the players dropping from 57% of BRI and giving $280 million back to the owners each season of a 10-year deal. Yet the owners also appeared intent on the players union making further concessions on various system issues mostly determining the players' free agent prospects. And as the players answered the owners' proposal by disbanding and filing antitrust laws, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the league maintains it will wait for the players to reach out to it in the hopes of negotiations restarting again.

So much for the adage that with great power comes great responsibility.

Of course, plenty of the league's behavior fits into its negotiating strategy in brokering a deal to its liking. The players-union-turned-trade-association has also remained in denial about its actual leverage. But it's clear that Stern's power-play tactics have actually backfired.

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NBA lockout: There must be a 2011-12 season

David Stern

As deadlines passed to salvage part of the 2011-12 season, both the owners and players union kicked the can down the road, believing a deal of their liking will eventually offset the canceled games and lost revenue.

Each fallout has spurred both sides to speak with inflamed rhetoric, offer doomsday threats and further stall negotiatons. The approach masks a collective arrogance that's beyond reproach. Neither side has believed that holding firm to a position will push it into a point of no return. That point where continued defiance will just result in a worse deal. That point where canceled games and lost money will cause irreparable damage to the league's brand. That point where a significant number of fans will eventually throw their hands up in disgust and walk away from something they once loved.

Surely, casual fans don't pay attention to the NBA playoffs once the Christmas Day games start, or even the postseason. Our nation's history has shown that once sports leagues end their labor strife, fans happily return, albeit in a delayed fashion. But in a sagging economy, the owners and players trade association are playing a serious game of chicken that could result in a huge accident. Owners calculate the players will crack more as they continue to lose paychecks. Players calculate owners will soon reveal their united front is a sham as they continue to lose money at the gate. Both at this point have refused to blink.

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NBA lockout: No end in sight

David Stern

--The Times' Chris Foster writes an extensive obituary on former Laker Walt Hazzard.'s David Aldridge says former President Clinton should intervene in the labor talks.

--The Deseret News' Lee Benson argues Derek Fisher represents a spoiled NBA player.

--Michael H. Goldberg, executive director of the NBA Coaches Assn., writes an open letter posted by both Sports Illustrated and the New York Times urging players and owners to broker a deal as soon as possible.

--Sheridan Hoops' Mark Heisler wonders tongue-in-cheek how the NBA lockout will further proceed.

--Fox Sports' Randy Hill says NBA players need to seriously consider playing overseas.

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe remains skeptical of the NBA achieving competitive balance.

--The New York Times' Rob Mahoney notes that the owners have little incentive to restart negotiations.

--ESPN's Shelley Smith talks to Rasheed Hazzard about his father, Walt Hazzard, who died Friday.

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears talks to Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who says it's up to the owners to start settlement talks with the players.'s Mike Trudell highlights the organization's recent visit to Long Beach Senior Center.

--The Orange County Register's Mark Whicker reflects on Walt Hazzard's death.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano replays one of Magic Johnson's most memorably playoff performances.

Tweet of the day: "I see some players putting in Labor and grave yard shift hrs. Some want to play. And some sitting back comfortable instead of supporting!!" -- MettaWorldPeace (Lakers forward Metta World Peace)

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at

Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern has continued to hold the line for the owners during labor negotiations with the players union. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

NBA lockout: Derek Fisher to play in 'Obama Classic'

Derek FisherFinally, there comes a time the general public no longer has to see Derek Fisher wearing a suit.

Oh, the National Basketball Players Assn. president looked sharply dressed all right when he attended labor negotiations and articulated the union's viewpoint pretty clearly. But the sight of Fisher wearing a jersey Dec. 12 in the "Obama Classic" -- an exhibition game/fundraising event for President Obama's reelection campaign -- bodes much better with basketball fans. At least until they see him match up with Chris Paul, John Wall and Russell Westbrook and start clamoring again for the Lakers to upgrade at point guard.

Fans can clamor all they want to watch an array of current and former NBA stars, including Paul, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Baron Davis, Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Rudy Gay, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Dwight Howard, Juwan Howard, Antawn Jamison, Dahntay Jones, Brandon Knight, Kevin Love, Jamal Mashburn, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Quentin Richardson, Steve Smith, Jerry Stackhouse and Amare Stoudemire, as well as women's basketball standouts Cheryl Miller and Tina Thompson.

But this showcase game provides just another reminder on how this NBA lockout has taken fans for granted. Now it's politics' turn for the sake of raising reelection funds. According to Obama's website, tickets are priced at $200 (general admission), $500 (lower deck) and $5,000 (courtside) at a to-be-determined venue in Washington, D.C. Hopefully by this point, this exhibition game serves as an appetizer for the NBA's Christmas Day games and not as just a temporary distraction during a prolonged litigation.


The players union's identity crisis

Five things Derek Fisher needs for a successful season

Derek Fisher should still be named starting point guard

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

Photo: Lakers guard Derek Fisher plans to play in the Obama Classic on Dec. 12 in Washington. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

NBA lockout: Eliminating max salaries helps competitive balance

David Stern

The NBA wants you to believe this current lockout has little to do with money, and more to do with ensuring competitive balance.

All those years Commissioner David Stern joked about wanting the Lakers and Celtics to appear in the NBA Finals every year? Apparently he was lying. Now the NBA feels horrible that there are so many markets that don't have a chance to legitimately win a title, and it has instituted various measures to give more teams greater opportunity. Those range from increasing luxury taxes, promoting revenue-sharing and shortening the length and size of players' contracts.

There's no doubt that a team's willingness to spend can dictate its success. The Lakers are a living example. But numerous studies have shown a team's competitiveness has mostly hinged on making smart draft choices and free-agent signings. So if the NBA is actually serious about taking steps to ensure stronger competitive balance, it needs to eliminate max salaries.

It could sound head-scratching since this whole labor dispute has hinged on the owners and players fighting over $4 billion. But doing so would ensure the superstars actually receive what they're actually worth on the market and spur all those elite players into spreading out through the league.

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NBA lockout: 15 signs the work stoppage is driving you crazy

Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter at another news conference to discuss the NBA lockout.

It's been a painful 41/2 months spending this NBA offseason toiling in statistics that hardly matter to the NBA fan.

Basketball-related income sounded like a foreign language when we had games to discuss. Mid-level exceptions and sign-and-trades felt fun to talk about only when they involved free agency. And let's not get started about competitive balance. Since when did the NBA hate when the Lakers and Celtics dominated?

Some basketball fans have taken it better than others. Below are 15 signs that show this work stoppage has pushed you off the deep end.

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NBA lockout: Law professor predicts players' union to file more lawsuits

The Lakers' Derek Fisher, left, president of the NBA players' union, with union Executive Director Billy Hunter

Below are excepts of an interview with Notre Dame law professor Joseph Bauer on the NBA players' union filing antitrust lawsuits against the league. Bauer specializes in antitrust law. 

On the NBA players union filing two antitrust lawsuits at federal courts in Oakland and Minneapolis:

"I don't think this is the end of the lawsuits. What's going on with these multiple lawsuits is that both parties are looking for what they perceive to be the friendliest courts." 

Will this give the players' union additional leverage?

"Only if they can persuade the court that the labor exemption from the antitrust laws can no longer be invoked by the owners and the courts should run at the antitrust claims on the merits. That could get the owners' attention. A court can't come up with a labor contract, but can they make the parties more amenable to an agreement? That's certainly possible." 

Based on past precedents of antitrust lawsuits, how do you see it playing out?

"Different courts can look at precisely the same facts and legal standards and can come to different conclusions. The best evidence is the NFL lockout. The trial courts ruled one way and the appellate courts ruled another. They're more likely to be successful in pressing the antitrust claim than the NFL, but I can't say that with any certainty."

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NBA lockout: Five things to note about players' antitrust lawsuit

Derek Fisher

1. Players union, owners could face lengthy court case. After the union disbanded, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and a handful of other players filed two antitrust lawsuits in Oakland and Minneapolis, accusing the NBA of conspiring to "boycott players" in attempting to get them to accept a poor labor deal. The Times' Mike Bresnahan talked to legal experts who believed that, regardless of the outcome, the court case will prove to be a drawn-out process. With the NBA already canceling games through Dec. 15, it's likely more cancellations will come.

2. Move could give players some leverage. One agent told me the union's disbandment and ensuing lawsuits, in effect, called David Stern's bluff and will intimidate owners into becoming more reasonable over a deal. There's mixed history on whether such a best-case scenario will occur. Similar moves by the NFL players' union largely contributed to both sides reaching a deal in time for the season. But the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling that the lockout should be lifted, saying the antitrust lawsuit brought by the players was a labor issue and not an antitrust case. When the NBA players union threatened decertification in 1995, they soon voted against the move since owners withdrew certain restrictions against free agency.

3. The players will soon seek damages. The next step involves filing a motion for summary judgment, asking for three times the amount of salary players lose during the lockout.'s Ken Berger estimates that reaches $2 billion in two months. That's because the lawsuit alleges the owners hatched their bargaining strategy in June 2007 when they demanded the players union reduce their basketball-related income percentage from 57% to 50%. 

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NBA lockout: Uninformed players should blame themselves

NBA lockout: Many NBA players appear to be uninformed about the labor proceedings.

Perhaps the only thing more aggravating than the NBA lockout itself involves the select players complaining they're unfamiliar with the proceedings. 

Boston forward Glen Davis lamented to the Boston Herald about having to attend meetings in order to know the latest developments. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reported that many felt team representatives weren't fully keeping other players and agents informed. Some, such as Derrick Favors, Earl Watson, Jeff Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Jeremy Evans — indicated they’re either not paying attention, not talking to their agents and/or just want to play as soon as possible.

The players union should've held a formal vote simply so it reflected true player sentiment, but no one should be complaining about not feeling educated enough about the proceedings. It's surely inexcusable for any team representative to fail to return calls and keep colleagues informed. But as far as being educated on the issues? That's on every single player.

There were countless regional meetings where attendance appeared to be low. Executive Director Billy Hunter and President Derek Fisher wrote countless letters with their take on the negotiations. And the media are dissecting each labor meeting ad nauseam. 

It's not asking much for players to know what each percentage point of basketball-related income represents ($40 million). It's pretty easy to remember the main issues involve the length and size of a mid-level exception, the severity of luxury-tax penalties and the ability to sign-and-trade. It's often repeated by memory how the league contends that 22 of its 30 teams combined to lose $300 million last season.

Granted, most of these complaints represent the minority of the players union. But by appearing to lack even basic information about the issues, those players have only themselves to blame in making the union weaker.  


Union disbanding seriously jeopardizes 2011-2012 season

Story lines Lakers will miss in early December

NBA lockout: Would a shortened season benefit the Lakers?

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at

Photo: Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Assn., and Derek Fisher, union president,  address reporters Monday after NBA players rejected the latest labor offer from the league. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images.

NBA lockout: Union disbanding seriously jeopardizes 2011-2012 season

They entered the press conference room Monday with smiles on their faces, but the NBA players' decision to disband their union hardly proved to be a laughing matter.

The NBAPA formally rejected the league's proposal of a 50-50 split in basketball-related income and mixed concessions in various system issues mostly tilted the owners' way. That's not the only move that will seriously jeopardize the NBA's 2011-2012 season. The union plans to disband. It will file an anti-trust lawsuit later today against the NBA. Both union attorney Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies, who was part of the NFL's legal team during that league's players' decertification, will represent the players. 

"Although we chose this today," players union president Derek Fisher said, "we did not choose to be in this situation."

The players union has every right to push back, considering the concessions they've made in basketball-related income, moving from 57% to 50%, about $280 million they're giving the owners every season. NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn't exactly need to follow through on his threat that the league won't negotiate further. But the players union's latest decision shows how both sides easily could have avoided this disaster.

If the union was intent on balking at the owners' proposal, they could have decertified earlier this summer to ensure that the effort wouldn't seriously hurt the season. If the owners honestly wanted to give a fair deal, they would've been satisfied with the $3 billion the players union already gave back through a 10-year period. If the union was honest with its negotiating power, it would've realized earlier that any further offers will only worsen. If the owners honestly wanted a fairer deal, they would've allowed more negotiations during the summer.

Instead we have the players union and the league butting heads with fiery rhetoric and defiant attitudes, even if billions of dollars and a whole 2011-2012 season goes to waste.


Negotiations are at a crossroads

Players need to hold formal vote on deal

Five things to note about owners' current proposal

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at



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