Legal Ramifications Of the NBA Lockout


Logic, reason, lucidity, intelligence, sound judgement have all been set aside in the battle to determine the future of the NBA.  Whoa, wait.  It’s not the forever future.  It’s not like the next CBA will last forever, or even the next 20 years.  It might last 10 years, it might last 6.  They may revisit things in less than that if they feel like they have to.  No bother, it could last forever, if there was a deal to be had.  Unfortunately, there isn’t.

Decertification or disclaimation are the truly nuclear options.  Decertification is the one we’ve heard of for a while, where the players would vote to basically, legally say “The NBPA no longer represents our interests.”  It doesn’t mean the union doesn’t exist, which I’ve always thought, it simply means that the people involved (the players) are no longer using the NBPA (union) as their bargaining agent.

Disclaimation, and I don’t know if I’m using that correctly, I think the correct term is disclaimer of interest, is the union saying “We no longer represent the players,” sort of voluntarily.  It happens far more quickly than decertifying the NBPA.  The union is able to walk away, legally speaking, from the players.  Decertification would need a vote of something like 30% of the players, which of course takes time, maybe there’s a petition in there or something as well.

Now, technically, the union still exists however it no longer is acting in the interests of the players.  Ok, well, hmm, if that’s true, how come the lawyer who filed the anti-trust law suit held a press conference today outside of the offices of the NBPA?  Well, I guess, it’s really because it’s not actually stepping aside.  It’s not suing the NBA, in one law suit it’s Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Leon Powe and in a seperate suit Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver and Derrick Williams and “on behalf of all other similarly situated.”

Law suits, much like unions, are a foreign concept to me.  It’s never crossed my mind to sue someone.  I had some crappy jobs too and didn’t make what I was told I would make but I never thought a law suit would enable me to get what I was due.  Involving lawyers always seems to make things worse.  I watched the HBO documentary “Hot Coffee” and I was cheering for tort reform.  I’m that guy.  The players suing the owners after all their negotiations failed not just in one suit but in two different states and picking and choosing the districts that they think will be the most sympathetic to their cause is just beyond the pale, to me anyway.

There is a horrible spiral staircase straight to hell that this lockout has taken.  Each step makes us all reach for the dictionary and then we search our souls for what we would do in the same or similar situation.  I don’t want to be that guy who questions everything and finds issue with about 97% of it, but I am.  The call to declaim the Players Association is something like step 5 and it’s pretty much the one that makes the least sense to me.  Step one was the previous CBA.  Step two was both sides sort of resigning to the fact that they were headed to lockout and an extended one at that.  Step three, not having negotiation sessions until the end of September.  Step four was giving voice to the hard-liners, whether it was the players conference calls last week or the board of governors meeting where Michael Jordan got his “hard-line” card punched. Now, there’s a complete shut down of negotiations and the players have resorted to legal manuvering.

I’m having a hard time explaining why the disclaimer of the union is so unpalpable to me.  The players as a group, formed a union, the NBPA.  They negotiated all the deals up until now.  As I said, the union doesn’t go away, but they want the ability to sue the NBA and the owners so they had to set the union aside for a while.  It’s disingenuous.  I can’t agree with something like that.  I know it’s a means to an end, that the players have to do something to try and get their way and this is the final tool they have.  I think, whoever said it, whether it was twitter or a blog I read, was right on when they said that the agents and lawyers pushing for disclaimation were more concerned for their long term ability to make money than for their client’s relatively short time to make it themselves.  Average salary last season was $5.765 million.  If you figure there are around 400 players in the NBA at any given time and the latest offer that the players rejected was a band around 50%, the difference is 7% from last year, the math comes out to about $700,000 per player per year difference.  Really?

I’m getting a little delirious here but, if all that math is right, and it makes sense, players are giving up $5.765 on average to save themselves $3.5 million.  The average length of an NBA career is 5 years, at $700,000 (the share if you take 7% of $4 billion and divide it by 400 players), yeah, that’s $3.5 million and Larry Coon tells me $5.765 million is the average player