NBA Lockout 2011: Class Action Lawsuit Filed by Players

In one of two class-action lawsuits filed, thus far, against the NBA owners there is reference to statements allegedly made by NBA Commissioner David Stern that, if true, really make his title that of Czar. They also show he never planned on real negotiations, but, rather, strong-arm tactics and ultimatums to crush the Player’s Union.

The suit filed in the Northern District of California names plantiffs Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups of the New York Knicks, Oklahoma Thunder and NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, Memphis Grizzlies forward Leon Powers and NBA rookie Kawhi Leonard against the NBA and the owners of its 30 teams.

The filing states that David Stern, during negotiations with the Player’s Union back in 2007, demanded that the players drop their Basketball Related Income (BRI) percentage from 57 to 50, much as the last offered deal by the NBA this year.

As well, Stern demanded “a much more restrictive salary cap, which would restrict the market for player services.” Deja Vu.

According to documents filed with the court, it is further alleged that Stern stated the NBA owners were “prepared to lock out the players for two years to get everything.”

One wonders if Stern would be paid during the two year lockout…

An additional czar-ish comment supposedly made by Stern is that “the deal would only get worse after the lockout.”

Enter the 2011 “bargaining” talks with Stern’s recent statement that if players did not accept a deal offered by the owner’s that it would get worse and the player’s BRI share would be reduced to 47%.

All of the good that Stern has done for the NBA during his tenure is all but wiped out with his handling of this lockout. Threats, such as those tossed around by Stern, even if they might legitimately be classified as risky bluffs, can, and do, backfire. In this case, they did. Horribly.

Stern and the NBA owners (perhaps not all) have taken these “negotiations” way too far over the top. There does not appear to be any real good faith on the part of the owners.

And, perhaps billionaires who own sports franchises simply because they wish to own a championship title and not because they love the game should be discounted, or eliminated, from the process because, during their several year quest for the title they seek, they have not cared about the bottom line when spending money foolishly.

The player’s current share of BRI is not the actual and total cause of any paper losses by a franchise. Yes, there may be some contribution to it, but it is not the “why.” Please bear in mind that a loss on paper is not the same thing as an actual loss in cash or cash flow to an owner.

Perhaps players are overpaid. However, that blame goes to the owners who, at the time they did the deal for the player they so dearly wanted, were more than happy to agree to their agent’s demands. They could have simply said “no.”

Over For Now.

Main Street One