NBA players say no to deal, season could be over

NEW YORK – The prophetic timeline in the National Basketball Players Association lockout booklet didn’t sugarcoat the realities.

Lockout begins July 1. NBA Commissioner David Stern delays start of the regular season Nov. 1. Players miss first paycheck Nov. 15. Season canceled Jan. 7, 2012.

Will the NBA become the first major North American pro sports league to lose an entire season to a lockout or strike since the NHL canceled 2004-05?

When the NBPA announced it would “disclaim interest” Monday or, essentially, dissolve, convert to a trade association and pursue antitrust lawsuits against the NBA, a lost season emerged as a real possibility. buy dunk high “We’ve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has broken down,” NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said. “The players feel they’re not prepared to accept any ultimatums.”

Stern said in a statement, “There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 dunk highs season is now in jeopardy.” He added in an ESPN interview, “If I were a player, I would be wondering what Billy Hunter just did.”The NBA offered the players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income and a soft salary cap with exceptions to exceed it. But to maintain that soft cap, the league proposed a BRI-distribution system aimed at restricting the money high-spending clubs committed to payroll and creating competitive balance.

Video: NBA Commissioner David Stern says union decertification is merely a “negotiating tactic.”

The union wanted fewer restrictions on taxpaying clubs, such as a less punitive tax on clubs over the luxury threshold and more freedom for taxpayers to use the mid-level exception (which allows teams to sign free agents for the league’s average salary and exceed the salary cap). The union also balked at the offer on contract lengths, annual raises and the amount players contributed to escrow.

“In some instances, the (NBA) proposal was regressive … as opposed to becoming more open or liberal and flexible for the players,” Hunter said. “It was a system under which we felt we couldn’t function.”

Hunter said a 50-50 split addresses league losses, conceding about $300 million annually to owners compared to the last deal, so players wanted relief on system issues.”We’ve done everything anybody can reasonably expect of us, particularly when you look at the number of givebacks and concessions,” Hunter said. “The players feel they’ve given enough.”

Stern and the owners will replace that offer with a 53-47 percentage split in their favor, a hard salary cap, buy nike sb dunks nike sb dunks a significant rollback in current salaries and a more restrictive system.Hunter, NBPA President Derek Fisher, the NBPA executive committee of players, legal counsel and 28 team player representatives made their decision at a meeting in New York, with other players such as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo present.

“We unanimously decided this is the best decision for the players,” Fisher said.

Hunter and Fisher sent a letter to players obtained by USA TODAY that informed them of Monday’s decision and the potential consequences. “The NBPA will always be here to assist individual players in asserting your rights outside of the labor laws and to improve business conditions of all professional basketball players in the NBA,” the letter said.

Veterans at the meeting understood what the consequences could be. “We understand we may not have a season,” free agent Mo Evans said. “We’re not gonna be Strong-Armed,” New Jersey Nets guard Anthony Morrow tweeted.

Players not in attendance also voiced opinions:

?Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola tweeted, “I believe that all the players should vote. not only the 30 reps.”

?Forward Tobias Harris was drafted 19th overall out of Tennessee in June by the Charlotte Bobcats, then traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I’m not going to say who I think is at fault,” Harris said. “I just think the season needs to be playing. It’s a tough situation for me. My agent is looking at Europe and other options. … I have hope the lockout will end, but not as much as I did four months ago.”

?Rookie guard Kyrie Irving, drafted No. 1 overall out of Duke by the Cleveland Cavaliers, tweeted, “Lol now everybody wanna flood my mentions with you shoulda stayed in school…eh yea and no…I have NO regrets at all though!! Sorry.”

Both sides expressed concern for fans and workers who make a living off of games.

“I’m upset to hear about it. It augurs a very desolate winter,” said Knicks fan David Englander, 58, a former attorney from Forest Hills, N.Y.

Denver Nuggets season nike dunks sb shoe ticket holder Will Bales, 43, from Greenwood Village, Colo., said, “All the concessions people, all the parking people — that’s their livelihood that just goes to zero. That’s the saddest part of the whole thing. … I’ve heard a lot of people that have just said, ‘Look, each day that goes by where there’s not basketball, I care less about basketball.’ ”

Legal battle brewing

Stern had reiterated Sunday to USA TODAY that the proposal on the table was the best players would get and agreeing to the terms was the best shot to salvage a 72-game season beginning, potentially, Dec. 15.

He ramped up his rhetoric Monday, saying this is the “nuclear winter of the NBA.”

“By what I would say is an 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,” Stern said on ESPN. “It gets stranger and stranger.”

Stern this weekend laid some dunk high on sale of the blame on agents, whom he described as greedy. Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and Entertainment was one of several agents culling support for decertification.

“This has been building for quite a while,” Bartelstein said. “If you’ve made every effort to make a deal you believe is fair and you’ve made tremendous concessions and it’s still not enough to get a deal done, at some point, you have to look for alternatives. And that’s where we’re at today.

“Nobody can look at what the players have offered and say they haven’t bent over to get a deal done.”

What is shaping up now is the legal battle. Hunter said NBPA outside legal counsel Jeffrey Kessler, who has been active in negotiations, will team with attorney David Boies, who helped represent former president Bill Clinton during impeachment hearings.

Boies represented the NFL when the NFL Players Association dissolved and pursued antitrust lawsuits during its lockout earlier this year.

NBA players would seek triple damages in a lawsuit.

“I’m not going to comment at all on exactly what’s going to happen now except that you have two people who are on opposite sides of the issue who now agree this lockout is illegal,” Kessler said of Boies’ switch from representing management in the NFL lawsuit to representing NBA players.

The acrimonious negotiations also are personal. Kessler has long irritated Stern and NBA negotiators, and Stern went after Kessler in the opening paragraph of his statement.

What’s next?

Kessler and Boies declined to reveal their strategy, although Hunter said lawyers will probably file lawsuits, “I’d assume, no later than the next two days.”

Hunter isn’t writing off the season yet. The 1998-99 NBA lockout was resolved Jan. 6 and resulted in a 50-game season.

“I would hope that in the face of disclaiming a union, where there’s no longer collective bargaining, that the owners would reconsider whether under these circumstances it makes sense to boycott the players,” Boies said.

Stern remained undaunted by the players’ decision. “It’s just a negotiating tactic,” he said. “This sham of magically saying, ‘We’re taking the union and we’re performing an act of magic and becoming something else.’ … It’s just a big charade and irresponsible, given the timing of it.”

While the players no longer have a union, they can still negotiate with the league. If they reach an agreement, players would reconstitute the union and go from there. “What the players are focusing on right now is, what’s the fastest way to get this resolved?” Boies said.

Fast is relative. cheap dunk high Once a lawsuit is filed, it could take between 60-120 days before it is heard, according to Hunter.

“It’s a setback for fans hoping to see the NBA start in a few weeks,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program. “That is unlikely at this point.”

Contributing: J. Michael Falgoust, Jim Halley and Rachel Shuster in McLean, Va.; Vicki Michaelis in Denver

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