Players Vow Unity After Union Meeting

NEW YORK – With all due respect to the young hopefuls gathered across the Hudson River waiting to hear their names called at the NBA Draft, the assemblage of pro basketball talent standing in a hotel ballroom in midtown Manhattan a few hours earlier Thursday was more impressive.

And, frankly, a lot more important to the NBA’s future.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala and Jason Terry were among approximately 60 players who, quite literally, had the backs of Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association and union president Derek Fisher after a briefing on the labor negotiations with the owners.

With support – a show of solidarity, really – from a spectrum of players ranging from future Hall of Famers to minimum-salaried role players, Fisher and Hunter talked of the resolve the union members have as the pursuit of a new collective-bargaining agreement veers closer to a lockout.

“We’d love to avoid a lockout,” Fisher said, “but we’re unified in the sense of not being afraid if that’s what we’re faced with.”

Said Garnett, one of the NBA veterans who went through the 1998-99 lockout that cut the schedule to 50 games: “This is a situation where you set the precedent now for later. We have so many young guys, three or four years into the game… The deal that’s going to be set in now is going to ffect not only those players but the players coming in behind them. It’s more imperative now for us to be on the same page.”

Just as the owners’ unity was stressed Tuesday by NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver, the players – after wrapping up the offseason meeting of player-reps from all 30 teams, with additional members sitting in – demonstrated their commitment to the union effort. They back the group’s stance on such deal-scuttling issues such as a hard salary cap or givebacks estimated at $7 billion over the 10-year contract sought by the owners.

“We’re as unified as we’ve ever been,” Fisher said. “We’ve been instructed not to accept a deal that is not fair to our players.”

Said Hunter: “What you see here is the NBA. This is a microcosm of the 450 players that we represent. Every team is represented here, every level of player. … The players want a deal, they want a fair deal, they don’t want a lockout. We will make every effort to achieve what they’ve instructed us to do.”

The next bargaining session is set for Friday, with none scheduled beyond that before the current CBA expires June 30. At Tuesday’s session, the union offered a reduction in the players’ share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to 54.3 percent – essentially, a pay cut of about 4.7 percent worth a total of about $500 million over their proposed five-year deal.

The owners continue to pursue what they term a “flex” salary cap – which features a target payroll of $62 million per team, with minimums and maximums sandwiching it – and eventually a 50-50 split of a modified pot of league revenue.

“A lockout is something that we are trying to avoid by making multiple offers that treat our players fairly,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We are dismayed by the union’s unfortunate rhetoric.”

Hunter said the players’ negotiating moves Friday would be dictated by the “atmosphere in the room” and what “overtures” are made by management. The owners have a Board of Governors meeting set for Tuesday in Dallas at which a lockout authorization vote is expected to take place.

29 Comments

  1. GARY says:

    if the players aren’t satisfied making millions …get new players…..in every other union, all employees make the same salary, after training or probationary period…….1st year 500k, 2nd year 1mil, 3rd 1.5…..when their salary exceeds their value they can freeze their own salary to remain on a roster……..i hope the owners hold to the hard cap….ticket prices are too high and i will hold players responsible no matter what happens. owner investing hundreds of millions deserve to make a profit, and the fans deserve teams that have a chance to win

  2. Fabiano says:

    No lockout, play for the love of the game!

  3. dewayne says:

    i say have all the players that want to hold out hold out. sign d league and draft propects. start fresh with new salary pay and cap. trust me there is always a star no matter who is playing there will be one that shines then most. these player act like they own the franchise. they are out of there minds. if they want to get paid they money they get niow plus more then they need to go to school invest there money and maybe jusy maybe they can own a nba team. i bet micheal jordan is seeing a totally different side as a owner then a player. but one thing proves that nobody is like mike is when there was going to be a lock out when he was playing i think 1995 or 1996. he came to the news conferenfeand stated “i will not play if there is a lock out” and guess what there was no lock out they made it happen. i like to see lebron or kobe say that and see who keep on talking after its said. but seriously players call it a “bussiness”. that means your not the owner like i’m not the owner who i work for. i like to see someone tell there boss (not mom and pops company) that they want more or they will not work. it’s supple owners. become a unit and say you no what we will agree to your terms for a 2 – 3 years to avoid a lock out, but once sign lay lebron kobe fisher (out the door anyway he doesn’t mind a lock out only way he’ll get his name in the paper now a day’s) and all these high paying so called stars refuse to play them there skills will go away they become older don’t trade take a loss to there salary until there contracts run out. let the players who play for the game play i still will watch it like i do college. for saying “you are always replacable i don’t care who you are”. there always will be a star for 17 million a year or top star 10 million a year. owners have to come together. if they don’t there probally won’t be any nba teams 20 years down the road who in the hell is gonna want to own a basketball team and have your employee tell you how to run it. its not there money stuck danging in the wind make or break. thank god orlando has a good fan support or they probally would have went to city to city by now magic kings magic memphis magic charrlote.

    • R4 says:

      I totally agreed. i could never tell my boss where too put it. I would lose my job and have to sell my house. I do believe that the players that don’t make as much as the superstar will vote to have the nba come back to the courts. I hope bench players around the nba know the only reason the superstars are calling you now because you guys hold the majority vote. Don’t be fool by fools because when these superstars get there contract you will not be importance to them anymore. If you remember when 2pac called janet jacksons after the movie he made. Phone said, “This number is not in service”

  4. Joko says:

    We all had to take a pay cut this year. If I didn’t take a cut they would have either let me go or closed down the business altogether.

    Why not players and owners take a pay cut. Cut the ticket prices in half. Put all the games back on free tv. That will best promote the league. As for who gets what without a lockout? Who cares. Work it out or shut down all arenas and we’ll all go out and play the game with our friends at the local court. Most have become just couch potatoes by watching too much tv anyway.

  5. David says:

    wake up!

  6. CB says:

    You may say players are selfish for wanting to keep there salaries but the owners are just as bad or even worse because all of them are richer than the players. The players only have endorsements and the game some don’t have the endorsements for extra cash. Owners have billions of dollars with companies that are still sending them billions of dollars so why do they need more money coming from the league they are already rich, you cannot buy everything.

  7. RoniM77 says:

    Just 2 words here:
    overrated, overpaid

    It’s true for all kind of athletes in most sports and owners too. It’s generally true for celebs and we have to accept the fact that NBA players are rather celebrities than sportsmen in this case.
    Numerous families could live off the poorest player’s income even if they had to “suffer” a large cut in their salaries. I’m never gonna understand and especially accept such fears and the players’ unwillingness but still:
    I LOVE THIS GAME
    I don’t want a lockout, they must find a solution.
    I agree with Niko From OZ, it’s their responsibility towards us, fans!

  8. Jordan Forever says:

    In my opinion, such debates are never resolved in a diplomatic way. DICTATORSHIP is the solution… STERN must force what all those bleeding basketball working around the league guys have been saying.

    I have great respect for David Aldridge, the man is so high in the knoledge of this game. Forcing terms to both sides, owners and players, is the best solution. Then whoever wants to quit let him do so.

    We are still into the NBA for the love of the game which is generationg Billions and Billions of $. A cut of from one side to the other wont cause anybody to die out of hunger. Really greedy and selfish

    A lockout will pull the NBA 25 years back and greater money will be lost by both sides then.

    So Foolish and discusting both sides really

  9. Niko From OZ says:

    I dont care about the Details, just make sure u get a deal done with no lock out. That is David Sterns, the owners & players only responsibility to us Fans.

    JUST GET IT DONE!!!

  10. MackDaddy says:

    with no players, there is NO league.
    i dont pay to see owners. I pay to see players.

    yes yes, owners want a profit… and there’s certainly things that can be changed to help that occur (like revenue sharing from rich cats like LA to poorer teams like Indiana), but asking players to take such a huge cut in salaries and benefits isnt going to get them anywhere. at least the players are prepared to take a cut to current pay… but owners are asking for too much. Lock Out Here We Come :(.

  11. watcher says:

    I think the players may be slightly out of line here. A hard cap will be the only thing that will prevent this league from become a Euro soccer style league – with 3 or 4 of the same teams (we know who they are) vying for the championship each year and the rest scampering for the scraps. For some of the smaller market teams a hard cap is literally vital to their survival in the league. I understand the players stance here, protecting what they have, I just don’t agree with it. For example, Australia’s premier football league (AFL) just signed a 1.2 billion TV rights deal and the players are battling to raise their share form 23% to 25%(!).

  12. Support for R4 says:

    I support whatever you said R4. Some of these players even have the guts to ridicule the fans, just what Lebron did in the post finals interview. Shame on him.

  13. Fire DAvid Stern First………..He is good only to fines and suspension……….and the REFEREEs

  14. Heart and soul says:

    come on that would suck

  15. aaron says:

    wow players want to make less millions than they were making but still make millions and owners are idiots who offer redicoulous contracts to players and expect to all work out…2 sides both greedy and selfish wanting to stay rich…what a stupid thing to keep the NBA from playing

  16. R4 says:

    it’s easy for players to stand all at once acting like the fans don’t paid there salary. I rather see different teams win every year than see bs dynasty win. I actually work and I even had to take a paid cut and I know many other people who did too to keep their jobs. You guys make millions of dollar and act like your losing too much money to maintain your luxury lifestyle. I have a son and I will never allow him to grow up looking up too basketball players of today. I wish the greats can come back and teach these players respect for the working man. Who ever would think different and think these players deserve that type of money just take a look at your pay check before answering.

    PS. me as paying fan wants a hard cap to balance the nba out once and for all. You players can complain all you want but guess what I pay your bills so I guess I am the puppet master to you guys.

    • Xepherius says:

      guess what, your boss is the puppet master to you, and as long as your boss support nba, its all cool. and as far as i am concerned, i still support nba, and i still love the game. most importantly i believe something will be sort out eventually regardless if you choose not to supporting them or not letting you boys watching it.

    • Tyeo says:

      there is no “bs” dynasty … kid

    • t-orr says:

      these players are great at what they are doing, and you shouldnt be complaining and saying you pay their bills. How do you get paid? Because somebody is working to supply the company or w.e you work for, to keep it running. Its not magic. Everything revolves and everybody contributes to the economy which involves everything. So you are just as guilty, but these guys are entertaining witch is the point. nobody wants to see an accountant work behind the desk on espn. because it isnt entertaining. you just think about your precious money.

    • Chicago's Finest says:

      Thats some real talk. There’s nothing I love more than NBA basketball and I cringe at the thought of a lockout. However, you are completely right about the lifestyle. I would be more than happy with a six figure salary, let alone the current minimum in the NBA. These people clearly have lost sight of what’s important in life and are hung up in pretty boy glamour. They are here to entertain, to be role models, not to argue over minimal details of how overpriced they deserve to be. I live in Chicago so I don’t support a hard cap because I know I am in a market that can and will dish out money to bring in top tier talent. I just hope Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter pull themselves together and realize that their words have a far greater impact than they may realize right now. One word: Selfish.

      • Bulls Fan4Life says:

        I completely agree!! I love the NBA too, but they are so selfish. They don’t care about the fans or really even the game for that matter. Its all about the money and all of the benefits of being in the NBA. If it was really about the love of the game they would take the salary cut and deal with it. Most of them don’t even deserve to make as much as they do in the first place.

  17. june says:

    griffing to celtics ^_^

  18. A.i says:

    and then there should not be a lock out

  19. A.i says:

    just bring iverson back to the nba first