When it comes to the National Basketball Player’s Association and the collective bargaining disagreement it is having with the league’s owners, it’s not just the external forces they have to consider leading up to the June 30 expiration of the current deal.
Internally, there is an unprecedented push to help the players themselves get educated on the issues. Most recently, that effort came in the form of a three-page update issued from the union that was obtained by NBA Confidential and can be seen above. That comprehensive approach is even more vital considering the context, as the developments in the NFL on Friday cast an even darker shadow than before on the prospects of getting a deal done in the NBA.
The NFL Player’s Association was decertified after negotiations broke down with the league’s owners, allowing them to file an antitrust lawsuit through which they’re hoping to block a work stoppage. It’s a drastic measure that has been considered by the NBPA, which has already gathered preemptive votes on the matter from its players in order to gauge potential support.
Considering the two sides were widely considered to be much closer in their respective stances in the NFL than in the NBA, the fact that it has come to decertification in football doesn’t bode well for basketball. It will take some serious conviction in the movement on the NBA players’ part to hold their ground, the kind that is tough to come by if there’s a general lack of institutional knowledge. To that end, we present the Feb. 18 meeting at which the NBPA took an unorthodox step in attempt to shore up that potential weakness.
After holding a meeting with the agents of players in which union representatives gave a crash course on the state of labor affairs leading into a Feb. 19 meeting with commissioner David Stern and most of the league’s owners, they held a separate, more exclusive, meeting inside the JW Marriott across from Staples Center with associates of some of the game’s biggest names. The group included brothers, cousins, and friends who double as associates of the players who were handpicked to attend by the players themselves, and at least one prominent agent was left bristling at the idea that these individuals were made part of the process and thereby legitimized as representatives.
To some in the industry, these associates are more accurately deemed “runners” or “middle men” between the athlete and the agent. In some instances, there is harmony between the two camps. In others, there is not. Nonetheless, the meeting itself spoke volumes about the union’s multi-pronged approach to spreading its message.
The group met with NBPA head Billy Hunter and his team for approximately an hour. The following is a list of the attendees, as detailed for NBA Confidential by one of the participants.
1. Kevin Samples, cousin to Orlando’s Dwight Howard
2. Maverick Carter, associate of Miami’s LeBron James
3. C.J. Paul, brother to New Orleans’ Chris Paul (who is an executive vice president of the NBPA)
4. Matt Rosenberg , associate of Chicago’s Joakim Noah
5. Tony Durant, brother to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant
6. Reggie Rose, brother to Chicago’s Derrick Rose
7. Lorne Clark, associate of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin
That effort continued recently, as a 56-page ‘Lockout Handbook’ was distributed to players to educate them on how best to handle a work stoppage (that book was obtained by Bloomberg and publicized here). In addition to the book, the aforementioned three-page update that was sent recently to players after the NBPA met with the owners at All-Star weekend last month sheds the latest light on the situation.
A few points to emphasize…
* There had been some confusion about how many owners attended the All-Star meeting in Beverly Hills. The memo puts the tally at 22.
* Players in attendance beyond the executive board at the meeting included: Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Baron Davis, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Al Horford, LeBron James, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams.
* The union decries the owners’ position in part because they deem this a “record-setting year,” citing the the Lakers’ recent TV deal with Time Warner ($3 billion overall, $150 million per season for 20 seasons) and 81 percent full-season renewal rate on season tickets as evidence.
* The final comment from Hunter is the most telling: “I will continue to keep you updated on all progress – or lack thereof – and I look forward to seeing you soon.”