UPDATE 5:22 p.m. ET — No deal. No decertification. No vote on the latest proposal. And no love for Michael Jordan.
The news conference held by the players after some four-plus hours of meeting between union brass and 43 players produced a litany of interesting comments from union executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher.
The major points, highlighted in the first line above, are the ones that stuck out. And Hunter’s zinger at Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and believed to be one of the hardliners among the owners, was a direct hit.
“I would give him the advice he gave Abe Pollin,” Hunter said when asked about Jordan’s current stance. Jordan famously barked at the late Pollin, then the owner of the Washington Wizards, that he should sell his team if he can’t afford to make a profit without concessions from the players. “He [Jordan] should take his own advice,” Hunter said.
Fisher said his marching orders after the meeting couldn’t be more clear. The league’s “50-50″ proposal presented Saturday, the one with the 5 p.m. ET Wednesday deadline, remains unacceptable. And both Fisher and Hunter shrugged off the notion that the league’s stance after the deadline will be considerably worse than the current proposal on the table.
They did make clear that they are willing to head back to the bargaining table and would reach out to NBA Commissioner David Stern in an effort to do so, before Wednesday’s deadline.
But as they vowed Saturday night, they refused to even present the current proposal to the players for a vote, saying that they would not take a bad deal just for the sake of getting a deal done before the deadline.
UPDATE 4:40 p.m. ET — Apparently the players’ meeting is already over (don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing just yet), per Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Someone should be headed to the podium to address the media any minute now. Tune in to NBA TV — or the live stream on NBA.com — to catch it all as it’s unfolding. Some 43 players, with 29 of the 30 teams represented, are standing behind Fisher and Hunter.
Get your popcorn ready!
UPDATE 3:32 p.m. E.T. — Forget basketball players. A global player was apparently spotted in the midtown Manhattan hotel lobby where the union is holding its meeting.
Add another name to the lockout-celebrity-sighting list. Bill Clinton just sauntered through the hotel lobby.
Someone ought to let him sit in on the meeting and see if he can’t help solve this mess!
UPDATE 2:53 p.m. ET — We could use some of those reality show hidden cameras in that meeting room in midtown Manhattan right now. It would make keeping up with the action in the union’s player rep meeting a whole lot easier.
They’ve been in there for a little over an hour now (TNT’s David Aldridge reported that things didn’t get started until 1:45 p.m. ET, some 45 minutes later than scheduled) and we can only imagine the depths of that discussion. With guys like Mo Williams, Russell Westbrook, Evan Turner, Mike Conley, Raja Bell, Matt Carroll, Theo Ratliff (all seen above) and so many others in the mix, the back and forth has to be dramatic.
We don’t have to use our imaginations with at least one former player.
Derek Harper, who toiled memorably for the Knicks and Mavericks (among others) during his playing career, told Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram that he believes a deal is imminent:
“I think tomorrow we’re going to have a deal. I think guys want to play.”
“You talk about guys missing $300,000-$400,000 checks. That’s a lot of money to miss.”
The only problem is that Harper isn’t in that meeting room either. Like most, he is simply speculating on what he thinks might happen. And in a lockout that has seen its fair share of twists and turns, no amount of speculation can ease the minds of the masses.
While we wait, you’d be wise to read up on the ramifications of decertification, just in case that becomes our word of the day in the wake of this meeting. Gabriel A. Feldman, a professor in the Tulane University Sports Law program, provides all the details in this Huffington Post article.
We’ll cheat here and provide the final question and answer from Feldman’s article, a must-read, by the way:
If we end up with an antitrust lawsuit between the players and the owners, who is likely to win?
Given the complex and novel nature of the legal issues involved– regardless of one’s views on the merits of decertification and disclaimer– it is simply impossible to predict the outcome of an antitrust suit filed by the NBA players. Remember, even in the Brady case, two federal judges sided with the NFL players, and two federal judges sided (in part) with the owners. Granted, the NFL got the two judges it needed, but there’s no guarantee that a different set of judges in a different court will rule the same way. So, neither side should be particularly comfortable with the strength of their legal positions.
From a fan’s perspective, the hope is that the uncertainty and risk to both sides involved with decertification and an antitrust suit are enough to push the two sides to make a deal at the bargaining table. If not, I might be back later this year with an antitrust litigation primer…
UPDATE 1:19 p.m. ET — Was divide and conquer the plan all along? Even if it wasn’t, the owners might reap the rewards of that strategy in their lockout fight with the NBA players’ union. With the 30 team representatives gathering at this hour in New York for a meeting, it remains unclear what their stance will be on the league’s latest proposal.
But if the rumblings percolating around the basketball universe are correct, a divided union will have to mend fences within its ranks before it can consider its options in regards to the end-of-business ultimatum handed down by NBA Commissioner David Stern over the weekend.
Today we find out all we need to know about union executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher. What happens after today will be a direct result of their stewardship of this process for the players. When you have players dead set against accepting the deal on the table and willing to sign a petition authorizing decertification, even when it goes against their core beliefs, as Orlando’s J.J. Redick insists …
“I am not in favor of taking the deal as it CURRENTLY stands,” told the Orlando Sentinel in an e-mail message early Tuesday morning. “The luxury tax is too onerous and has essentially created a hard cap that will make it incredibly difficult for the vast majority of players to get their fair value in free agency. We also need to have a strong mid-level, and luxury-paying teams need to be able to use it every year.
“As far as decertification, I am not necessarily in favor of decertification but I will be signing the petition to organize a decertification vote if a deal is not worked out in the next couple of days. Then the sides would have 45 days to get a fair deal done before we would officially vote on decertification. IF it gets to that point every player will have to make a decision on whether to decertify or take whatever deal is on the table.”
… you know you are in need of strong leadership.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the day on the goings on in New York, where our very own Steve Aschburner is entrenched for however long it takes. And Asch is already reporting, via Twitter, that players like Carmelo Anthony (who is not a player rep) are attending the festivities today.
This is going to get very interesting.