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The Lockout & the Raptors: Players approve CBA, Owners too! (1944)

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  • 20 mins. huh? Cutting down on expenses or did everyone agree real quickly on the next move.

    Re: your justice in America post...we must remember that what happens in this case impacts all the other pro sports leagues (creates a precedence). Unlikethe Curt Flood case which was a milestone in fundamental rights of movement this is more of a financial dispute. The case in it's extreme could reach the supreme court and as we know they are a conservative/Republican majority. There are going to be a lot of heavy hitters with political & financial clout interested in how this all proceeds. Boies as well should know about the SC having dealt with the Bush vs. Gore case on the losing side. My own view is there is still time to save part of the season and some of the statements I hear from the player side and their legal support is that they just consider this a temporary manouver rather than a hard assed conviction of position.


    • “The biggest thing for me is taking advantage of every opportunity that I have in front of me, and that’s how anybody should look at it. I’m 25 and I have a full life ahead of me, God-willing, and I have to do what’s best for me, and that’s it.”
      Lockout in a nutshell:

      Howard has to do what is best for him which is why the league and owners have to do what is best for them.


      • Q&A with former NBPA head

        If I had to pick one article to sum up my views and position on the lockout, this would be it. In fact this article nails it. There are a number of other things I had not considered throughout this long Q&A. Well worth the read... if you still care about the league that is!

        Charles Grantham was executive director of the National Basketball Players Association from 1988-95, guiding them through record growth until he resigned after a disagreement with the executive board and then-union president Buck Williams. Grantham was part of the union during the signing four collective bargaining agreements since 1980. Grantham weighed in on the inability of NBA Commissioner David Stern and union executive director Billy Hunter to reach a deal when he talked with USA TODAY's J. Michael Falgoust this week:
        So what do you make of the players' decision to dissolve the union and go the legal route?

        I certainly think the overall players should've had the opportunity to vote on whether or not to proceed. You've got the group that disclaimed the union which are the reps and the executive committee, the 200 or so players who are (supposedly) being led by 25 agents and that big middle group we haven't heard from — the average guy who is risking his salary between $4 and $5 million.

        I'm perplexed as to how we go from agreeing to 50% ready to move forward and not recognizing that you can't get more than that no matter what the system says. When you start talking about missing the season, you have to consider a cost-benefit analysis. How much is it going to cost me as a player to get a system change? Is it worth me losing up to 25% of my salary? … They should probably spend more time on what that average salary is and if that average salary growth is guaranteed. … We've agreed to 50%. The 50% is still going to allow our average salary to grow to $8 million (over the life of a 10-year deal because of projected 4% growth each year). What it sounds like the NBA is saying is that your 50% in this deal going forward is going to, in real numbers, be more than the 57% you're receiving in the last deal. The average salary is going to go up every year.
        How does the NBA's claim that 23 teams are losing money factor into this negotiation?

        If you buy the concept that the league is losing money and their teams are having difficulty you have to be concerned about that as a union because you don't want the prospect of losing any teams. I'm not certain this move is good for the them. I can see where it's good for the antitrust attorneys who might be charging as much as $1 million a week in fees or the agents who see that seven-point swing (from 57% to 50% BRI) as adding up over time as quite a bit of money. But it also is money that hasn't been earned. Theoretically you're losing that money, but at the same time the pie is bigger and the average salary is increasing.
        Then how can players still believe that number from the NBA is exaggerated?

        When we first engaged in this revenue sharing (1980) four teams at the time, all the ABA teams, had came in. It's not that they were claiming that they were losing money. After our examination as well we concluded they were losing money. The question is if there is an auditing process, you've got to use that auditing process so when the league suggests that X number of teams are losing money you should know whether they are or not. If you've done your due diligence and your auditing over the term of the agreement, not the end of the agreement, but during that agreement every year then you pretty well know what the financials look like on a team-by-team basis. So I'm only assuming that because they went from 57 to 50 that they did exactly that. You can't come back and say, "We think." You clearly didn't reduce your percentage because you "think" they're losing money. You had to utilize your resources to conclude after an examination that in fact is true
        You believe if players were better informed they would've demand to vote on this deal?

        If I'm a player who's making an average of $5 million and I've got four more years on my contract why would I vote this down? The fact that it's not exposed to the entire 450 players would raise that question as to whether or not all the players are totally informed and what it actually means to them individually. In addition, should they lose half of the season or a full season — and the average player plays four years — you're telling me a player should give up 25% of his career for a deal that seems on the face not to be as punitive as it is being described?

        When you sit down and negotiate you're trying to get the best deal you can. There's no question the players are getting less going forward. But that may be the cost of working, the cost of doing business if in fact you buy or have bought the fact they are losing this kind of money. If you've agreed to go from 57 to 50 how does a system change which will not allow you to spend more than 50% prevent you from working?
        Do you view this is as a partnership between players and owners?

        They are quasi-partners. Where the players get confused, they are not partners. They're employees. They're not partners. Theoretically they are partners because they're sharing revenue and that it can be a partnership in that we're both trying to promote the game of professional basketball, but (players) make no partnership decisions. (Players) have no input on decisions going forward as a team, or as a league. I help define an agreement between the players and owners which defines how they both make money vis a vis the collective bargaining agreement. Let's not get this twisted. (Players) don't sit in the boardroom.

        Did you feel that way as head of the PA?

        Of course. I never felt this was a partnership. Of course my philosophy was to keep the guys working because they lose income that's not recoverable.
        What was it like dealing with Stern, who has been criticized by players for issuing ultimatums during negotiations?

        Any negotiation is hard when you're trying to divide money. What I can say is faced with difficult issues in the past, we've always been able to come up with solutions to the problem. I've been involved in litigation as well. The critical time, this goes back to 1978, '79, '80 when the NBA wasn't so fantastic and the NBA Finals was shown on tape delay, so what do you do? You have to say, "Look there's a problem here. We have to solve the problem." I don't find David to be an autocrat or a dictator. I don't see him as that. I look at him as a businessman trying to solve an issue. I always perceived when we negotiated a new deal that it was a business deal and not a legal one. Often that's where the conflict comes in.
        Has this negotiation become more personal than about numbers?

        It takes on more of a legal battle than it is a business one. No matter … how much they create this schism between management and labor, the bottom line is they're going to still have to get together and negotiate a deal and that deal is about the business of basketball and it's about (every) 100 dollars and how you divide that 100 dollars. It's a business issue first to be enveloped in a legal document called the collective bargaining agreement. It's not the other way around. Today we spend too much time in the court with too many lawyers when in fact instead of having 10 lawyers and an economist you should probably have 10 CPAs or forensic accountants, two lawyers and you move forward from there because the sophistication of the business calls for analytical tools that critically examine the nature of the business, how it's growing and where the sources of revenue are, how you can find new ones and ultimately what is the players' fair share of that. That's business terminology. That's not the law. In this case, you're looking to use the law to gain leverage to get yourself a better business deal where in fact the negotiations that should be taking place with regard to how you divide that 100 dollars.
        So you're suggesting the players' emotion got in the way of common sense?

        I've always felt what's most important thing in these negotiations and how you prepare from a business standpoint. It seems in the last month, maybe even from the very beginning, they brought too much emotion to negotiation and to a large degree that has driven them to a point that their resolve has been challenged. It's not a question of resolve but the judgment that's most important.
        If you go back and think about what happened in the NHL, they had a lot of resolve for the whole year. They missed the entire year. The union leadership failed to diagnose the winds of change that a salary cap is coming. They failed to recognize that was true. They had great resolve but made a poor judgment. I see that as similar here. A lot of that has to do with the experience and the maturity of the people who own teams with the lack of experience of players and in some regard their leadership. What often happens here you're not prepared to leave your emotions at the door. These are hard-fought business negotiations.
        Who specifically isn't prepared?

        Preparation is more about a plan of action and being able to deal with all the unexpected that come along and having answers. It seems clearly the owners are far more prepared for that outcome. What is the end game?

        In concessionary bargaining, so when you're losing a percentage (like the players), that's a time for the union to pursue other quality of life, improving the pension plan, improving medical, you have to be more creative.
        Did Stern ever issue you an ultimatum?

        Negotiation is negotiation. That means one side is trying to get what they consider their share and the other side is trying to get what they consider their share. It's a business transaction here. Whether someone issues ultimatums … this is not about getting your feelings hurt. It's about dollars and cents. Ultimatums are a part of negotiations. Do you accept the ultimatums or do you keep moving on and keep negotiating and pressing your case? I think those things are overblown. You're hearing a lot of that right now. The league is just saying, "We're going to change the offer that we have on the table." Is it an ultimatum if I say if this one isn't accepted the next offer is not going to be better? Maybe you want to accept the lesser offer? (laughs). I doubt I, but now you're moving into an area of uncertainty. The more games you lose the less likely that 50% will remain constant.
        You think the players have made a wrong turn with antitrust lawsuits filed in Minnesota and California?

        It makes you question the timeliness of this lawsuit with such pressure and put so much salary in jeopardy when it appears there's very little return on lost income that cannot be made up again. The risk is so much greater. Now you sit out there and wait because in football … the court (lifted the injunction) and came back with the decision it was a lawful lockout.

        If you notice in the (NBA players) lawsuit there's no application for an injunction to stop the lockout. To a large degree, there's no (request for) injunction because there's a high level of a burden of proof to actually win that. In the long run, you realize it would be very difficult to reach that standard. You have to wonder why that was not done. It should probably tell you about the strength of your litigation.
        Is this solely to get the owners back to the table than win a labor case?

        I think it's flawed, the entire legal strategy. Most people feel it's a negotiation strategy. You've already reached 50-50 and you've turned that down and decided to press an anti-trust lawsuit for damages. These anti-trust lawsuits can take forever. They first have to determine what jurisdiction it will be heard. That could take a month. After that you're going to have a hearing, have to make your cases, etcetera. … Are you going to predict this is going to be settled before Christmas? The timeliness of this has put them at a disadvantage. If you assume it takes a month or so to get the season up and running, the offer probably would be worse and I don't know you'll be able to get management back to the table at this point for the 72-game schedule that David (Stern) had proposed. They really have jeopardized the season. I'm not certain it's worth it.
        If there's no 2011-12 season, you think the owners will end up offering players less than 47% BRI?

        The only thing we have as a prior experience is the NHL in 2005. They lost an entire season, after which the following season they faced a rollback in salaries in addition to the lost season.
        Do players have any hope of winning the "good faith" argument?

        The NBA has made the same claim against them. The thing that bothers me about the litigation is it's full of such uncertainty and the standard of proof any one of those claims is so difficult and the time consumed for that thing…Of all the litigations in the NBA, of all the anti-trust lawsuits not a single one has ever been adjudicated. Not a single one. They all resulted in settlements and when they settle it's the lawyers that make more money.This antitrust lawsuit is filed in November and it will be settled, a year from now, six months from now, the Oscar Robertson one lasted six years in final settlement. The players can't stand the time it would require to have this thing adjudicated because every player in the league right now who's been in the league three or four years their careers would be over. That means nobody wins. It's clear what the litigators expect: That at some point they relent, they come in, we work a deal they come and we settle and everybody's happy. More importantly they hope the threat of litigation is going to scare somebody.

        Who represented the owners in the hockey confrontation? (Law firm) Proskauer Rose. Who represented the football owners? Proskauer. And who's representing the basketball owners? Proskauer. Hockey players showed resolve. Basketball players showed resolve. But what happened to that resolve? When they came back they all had to take a 25% cut in pay. But they had the resolve. Resolve and judgment are two different things. Judgment is more important than resolve in these long-term negotiations. Good, solid financial judgment. You go back to who is going to best benefit from this? The benefactors are the agents and the lawyers who represent them than the players overall after you analyze each facet of the deal. This is concessionary bargaining, there's no question about that. It was about concession.

        I hear the players talking about they're willing to do this and that for the future. But the future is still good for the players coming behind you. I always look at these labor deals as good, better and best. Everyone is going to do pretty good. If you maintain the guarantees of the average salary then this deal turns around and looks a little different

        When you're looking down the road and the agents are looking at their future clients, it's a little different ballgame.
        Having Proskauer Rose gives the owners yet another advantage despite the players having a star litigator in David Boies?

        Proskauer represented all sports. This isn't new in terms of these types of allegations they're facing. Look at the NFL, look at hockey, then people often forget that (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell came up through the system. (Major League Baseball Commissioner) Bud Selig was a former owner. (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman worked as general counsel for the NBA. And you've got David Stern who is a former anti-trust litigator himself. It baffles to some degree that this particular time to advance an anti-trust suit, boy, talking about a long-shot. I don't know that bringing forth of this anti-trust suit at this time will create the effect they expect. From the very beginning I was saying I'm optimistic there'd be a season. For the first time I'm beginning to think there's a good possibility there won't be one.
        Are you saying they couldn't pick a worse time because of the weak economy or because it's just too late?

        It's the timing. If you think about the strategies that were employed even in the NFL, the concept of decertification is much earlier in the process. Not at the end of the process.
        Is too much being made of the players having Boies as their attorney?

        He's noted for a couple victories but also because of a couple losses. It's a little overstated.
        When union attorney Jeffrey Kessler compared Stern to a plantation owner, how does that harm the ability to negotiate?

        It's inflammatory. It's totally unnecessary. It can only lead to more division at a time when you're trying to make a business deal. This is an economic issue. It's not a race issue.
        How do you feel about the slavery references being used in pro sports?

        You have to know your history. It was Curt Flood who challenged the reserve clause in baseball that tied the players to teams (for life). That's what tied them to the owner. And that's what tied them to "the plantation." But that also was for white guys. Before Curt they were all white guys who were involved in this reserve clause madness. The union leaders used that as momentum to rid themselves of that reserve clause. That sprung everybody free. It freed all the slaves (laughs). Then basketball and football followed. That plantation concept was there before many blacks played in the baseball league. … This is a freedom issue for all baseball players. Not just the black baseball players. You had white guys asking the same questions, "Are we ever going to be free?" That's where it comes from.
        At any time, did players have leverage?

        Leverage does float a little bit. It can change. But from the beginning that was one of the more difficult things. It's can you create any. The time, the wait, the timeliness of the sessions point to trying to navigate and create leverage. But the answer is no. You've got no leverage. If you don't, how can you come to deal quicker? If there's no leverage how do you address this whole concept of lost income. If you have no leverage you don't want to stare lost income in the face. Ultimately when the deal is signed, could that deal have been had six months ago? Those are the questions that are going to be raised as time moves on.
        So players who anticipated needing to stretch their income the last few years to compensate for not getting paid during the lockout doesn't equal leverage?

        That's what I call resolve. I understand that resolve creates leverage. I'm saying the resolve and bad judgment creates no leverage. The lawsuit does not create leverage.When you think through this whole thing you have to come back and ask yourself where average salaries are and where average salaries will be guaranteed to go by the end of the deal. The forecast is revenue will continue to rise. As long as your salaries are tied to that revenue, then the average salary will continue to increase.

        I knew David Stern was a lawyer but did not realize he was an anti-trust lawyer.


        • Matt52 wrote: View Post
          If I had to pick one article to sum up my views and position on the lockout, this would be it. In fact this article nails it. There are a number of other things I had not considered throughout this long Q&A. Well worth the read... if you still care about the league that is!

          I knew David Stern was a lawyer but did not realize he was an anti-trust lawyer.
          Wow, that was quite the case...but not exactly earth shattering since most of it has been discussed here at one time or another. But to see it all capsulized in an interview...

          Both David Stern and Gary Bettman are alumni of the law firm Proskauer, Rose. You can visit Wiki for more info.

          Emotion in a business negotiation and gamble = trouble. Is that why so many marriages ....


          • Bendit wrote: View Post
            Wow, that was quite the case...but not exactly earth shattering since most of it has been discussed here at one time or another. But to see it all capsulized in an interview...

            Both David Stern and Gary Bettman are alumni of the law firm Proskauer, Rose. You can visit Wiki for more info.

            Emotion in a business negotiation and gamble = trouble. Is that why so many marriages ....
            That is what blew my mind on the interview. It is really good journalism which can be rare these days.


            • I had no idea David Stern is a former anti-trust litigator. That alone makes me feel more at ease with the Owners' hardline stance.


              • Via

                NBA decertification and antitrust lawsuit

                Even aside from the dumb economics of risking missing a season over a 10% pay-cut when the average career is less than ten years long, the NBA players are being poorly served by their lawyers and representatives in engaging in a decertification-and-sue-under-antitrust theory. None of the press coverage mentions the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq., which prohibits injunctions "in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute." The ploy of pretending not to be a union subject to the collective-bargaining exception while continuing to bargain collectively isn't going to fly unless courts in the Ninth Circuit refuse to follow the law. The Supreme Court already addressed this issue in Brown v. NFL, when it held that antitrust laws did not apply to suits over collective bargaining arrangements, and that those protections continued to apply immediately after the collective bargaining broke down. And it's ironic, because the players' attorney, David Boies knows this, having made precisely this argument on behalf of the NFL in their lockout labor dispute earlier this year. The NFL had a viable labor model, however, and the owners would lose a lot of money if the lockout continued; the parties were destined to settle. NBA players don't have a credible threat, because the NBA has over a dozen teams that would lose less money not playing than playing, even if that's largely because so many teams are poorly managed.

                I'm not sure how credible the source is but it certainly looks the part of legitimacy. Anyone out there with a stronger knowledge of law have an opinion on this post and the website


                • Blah blah blah blah. Looks like Ken Berger is being used to say something about nothing.

                  NEW YORK -- Despite the grim outlook of potentially lengthy and costly lawsuits, there are strong indications that NBA officials and attorneys representing the players want to take one more shot at reaching a settlement before the possibility of having close to a full season is devoured by the legal process.

                  Two people who have been briefed on the league's strategy told the NBA is holding out hope a settlement can be reached in time for the season to begin no later than Christmas. One of those people said the process already is under way through what he described as "back-channeling," although sources from both sides professed no knowledge of such conversations.

                  A third person said that based on how vendor contracts and other financial arrangements were put in place, starting the season by Christmas would be optimal as far as preserving those relationships, and of course, revenues. Multiple people who have spoken with top NBA officials about the matter said it is understood that starting the season after Christmas is not viewed as a viable option.
                  One top member of the legal team representing the players told on Friday he had yet to receive a call from the NBA's legal representatives. Some contact and preliminary dialogue would be required soon if enough time were going to be available to reach a resolution in time for the season to begin Dec. 25.

                  The two people who have been in contact with NBA officials both used the word "optimism" to characterize the league's attitude with regard to reaching a settlement with the players that would save the season. However, it goes without saying that time is not on their side. It will take about a month from the day an agreement is reached until the season can start, and the process is further complicated by the fact that no collective bargaining agreement can be had until the players reform as a union and the owners recognize it as the bargaining representative for the players. Next Friday is Nov. 25, and Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday.

                  "It's all about the calendar," said one attorney involved in the legal process.
                  Source: Ken Berger,

                  So there is back channeling talks going on which no one will speak of on the record and even anonymous sources on members of legal teams are unaware of talks. I wonder if Berger gets taken out to dinner before any of these 'interviews' because he certainly seems to be getting screwed by these 'sources'.


                  • What the owner's proposal would have done to a 'typical' roster

                    Clearly the league was out to dismantle and prevent the top players from joining up to hold court on the playground, er, I mean prevent multiple superstar partnerships.

                    Pat Riley's model for NBA success pushed the Miami Heat within two victories of last season's NBA championship.

                    The NBA's model for future success apparently is taking aim at pushing LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh out of South Florida.

                    Taking its social-media lockout campaign from Twitter to YouTube last week, the NBA posted a slideshow detailing the intended consequences from the proposal that led the union to instead pursue a resolution in the court system.

                    While most of the frames simply detailed the highlights of the league's offer, the final frame detailed what the NBA termed a "sample team roster" for the third year (2013-14) of the proposal. The Year 3 model was utilized because the league had proposal a gradual move toward the new revenue approach, with 2011-12 and 2012-13 to have included some facets of the previous collective-bargaining agreement.

                    Under the league's proposal, in order to avoid what would become an onerous luxury-tax that might even make Heat owner Micky Arison think twice about spending above the projected $75 million ceiling, the league proposed the following 2013-14 roster composition:

                    One "Superstar (max salary)": $17 million.

                    One "All-Star": $14 million.

                    One "Starter": $10 million.

                    Two "Starters": $8 million (apiece).

                    One "6th Man": $5 million.

                    One "Rotation Player": $4 million.

                    One "Rotation Player": $3 million.

                    One "Rotation Player": $2 million.

                    One "Rotation Player": $1 million.

                    Five "Remaining Players": $3 million (total, $600,000 average per player, essentially minimum scale).

                    Not only are the Heat not currently in position to fill out such a roster, but their top-heavy payroll would make such a hasty transition virtually impossible.

                    The Heat currently have six players under contract for 2013-14: James and Bosh at $19.1 million apiece; Wade at $18.7 million; Mike Miller at $6.2 million; Udonis Haslem at $4.3 million; and Joel Anthony at $3.8 million. Those salaries would put the Heat at $71 million in payroll. There also would be the salary of 2011 first-round NBA Draft pick Norris Cole, plus possibly the salary of at least one additional first-round pick.

                    Not only would the Heat have to release Miller under the NBA's proposed amnesty program (which would remove his salary from the cap and tax, but still require actual payment) but it is possible Haslem and/or Anthony would have to be sacrificed just to be able to fill out the roster with minimum salaries and remain below the luxury tax.

                    The luxury tax under the NBA proposal not only would have increased severely above the previous dollar-for-dollar penalty payment for payroll above the tax floor, but in the NBA's proposal would have banned teams from participating in sign-and-trade deals starting in 2013-14 and reduce by $2 million the amount such teams could have offered as a mid-level exception.



                    • A fairly balanced (and humourously written) view of the blowup

                      by Bill Simmons, ....many truisms in my view.



                      • Bendit wrote: View Post
                        by Bill Simmons, ....many truisms in my view.


                        My favourite line in this:

                        I wouldn't let Billy Hunter negotiate an eBay bid for me at this point.


                        • Bendit wrote: View Post
                          by Bill Simmons, ....many truisms in my view.


                          and BC somehow manages to get burned agained.....

                          The owners claim they need a better financial model, and yet, they're the ones recycling the same incompetent executives — seriously, someone is hiring Ed Stefanski again????


                          • GarbageTime wrote: View Post
                            and BC somehow manages to get burned agained.....
                            I also noticed he didnt mention either BC or the Raptors! That was an odd hiring.


                            • Matt52 wrote: View Post
                              My favourite line in this:
                              My own view is that Hunter knew at the outset that going the decertification route was a losing proposition (he has a relationship with DeMaurice Smith) and was going for the best deal. Circumstances just overtook him where agents and some hawk players got overly emotional and took over events (it wasnt him or Fisher who sat in on conference calls with litigators getting advice on decertifying). Oh well it doesn't matter now. The crux of the piece as well as the Grantham interview is the same...leverage, emotion, business.


                              • The lockout will be settled when (if) full membership gets to vote, or when rank-and-file players feel economic pinch.
                                Worried about their future cut, agents have far too much sway in negotiations.
                                When players say "we're holding firm for future players," that's actually agents talking about their future cuts.
                                It's easy for players with $50-100M banked to take a stand.
                                Source: Twitter @Powell2daPeople

                                Powell is pretty much saying what I've been saying in here. All the power in the Union is serving their own interests, not those who they represent. This isn't unique to the NBA by any means but it's coming close to the time when somebody is going to need to lead a rally against the stars and agents. They're all leading the way to the average NBA player getting burned badly.