NBA players reject owners' offer, season in doubt
The NBA players, already locked out and with hundreds of games canceled, rejected what NBA owners said was their final, best offer. Commissioner David Stern said that puts the entire season in jeopardy and now players are disbanding the union and preparing to do battle in the courts.
Story from The Takeaway. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.
The upcoming NBA season may simply not happen.
Monday afternoon, the league's players rejected what the league had said was its final, best offer and began taking steps to disband the union and file an anti-trust suit against the league and its owners.
"After two years of making a genuine and concerted effort to close a collective bargaining agreement with our teams and the league, we've come to the conclusion this process hasn't worked for us," said Derek Fisher, NBA Players Association president.
Mitch Lawrence, NBA columnist New York Daily News, said the chances are "very good" there will be no NBA season this year.
"Now with things being thrown into the courts, we're really in uncharted waters," Lawrence said.
Billy Hunter, NBA Players Association Executive Director, said players felt they had given enough and that the negotiations weren't going to get better.
NBA Commissioner David Stern criticized Hunter for his statements and his actions.
"Frankly, by this irresponsible action at this late date, Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday," he said.
Lawrence, though, said there's plenty of blame for both sides in this disagreement.
Owners are saying the league is losing a lot of money and players don't believe it. That's the root of the inability to reach agreement.
"At the bargaining table, the problem has been the league has really gone after a total victory," Lawrence said. "Not a lot of give-backs. The owners don't want to give back anything in the negotiations. It's been very one-sided."
So far, players have agreed to give back almost $300 million annually and accept a 50-50 split in revenue, but there aren't any real examples of concessions by the owners.
By disbanding the union, the players are trying to get some leverage over the owners and force them back to the negotiating table with a better offer. They felt that, despite what people might say, negotiations had broken off.
This isn't the first NBA lockout. The players were locked out in 1998-99 as well, though that lockout ended before a full season was canceled. But it didn't come without consequences.
"The players...bore the brunt of the backlash when they came back after a 50-game season. The NBA suffered tremendously for two or three years. Corporate sponsors left. Fans left. Everyone was upset and players bore the brunt of that," Lawrence said.
This time, though, there are a lot of people who feel the owners have had a very heavy hand in negotiations and not bargained in good faith, Lawrence said.
One of the most extreme ideas on the table from some players is contraction: eliminate the teams that are losing money.
"But that means losing jobs," Lawrence said, "and no union likes that."
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