When the most important names in the 2011-12 NBA season are Kessler, Boies and Clement you know something went terribly, horribly wrong.
That’s the situation the league finds itself in now after the players disbanded their union and plan to file an antitrust suit against the NBA after years of negotiating blew up Monday afternoon.
It’s time for NBA fans to bulk up on their legal knowledge so they can understand the difference between decertifying and disclaiming and be ready for a litany of different legal actions that are sure to follow.
All along decertifying or disclaiming was seen as the nuclear option because it injects so much uncertainty into the situation. Both sides will hope that a major early ruling in their favor will give them the shot of leverage neither side seems to possess at the moment to get a favorable deal done.
Disclaiming brings up so many questions, but one of the biggest to me is why didn’t the players at least send this to a vote?
My stance all along has been that Suns fans should hope for a new system that favors their team, the Suns. Similarly, if I’m a player while I would fight for a system that is best for me, I would prefer making my millions while I still can rather than a nuclear option that could benefit players down the line who aren’t missing out on this season’s paychecks. Missing a season I will never get back would be worse than losing the ability to go to a luxury tax team in a sign and trade.
I understand the players are sticking up for their principles and that it’s much more complicated than that, but at some point they need to place economic sense above these high and mighty principles.
This isn’t to say I’m a league sympathizer because there’s no question Stern and company have been ruthless in these negotiations. I just don’t see why this was the next move without a vote when, as Michael Wilbon wrote, this “is the equivalent of running 26 miles of a marathon and then sitting down on the pavement and refusing to complete the final two-tenths of a mile.”
The sides came from so far away to compromise on the revenue split, yet they allowed some pesky system issues to place an entire season in jeopardy?!? This isn’t to understate the importance of these system issues, but you don’t drop an atomic bomb in a civil war regardless of the circumstances. You are only hurting yourself in the long run, as the league and the players are today.
Now both sides will pump up the rhetoric as David Stern has already done, and we may end up seeing today’s decision as the move that finally jolts the owners into offering a deal the player can live with.
If that’s the case perhaps history will judge this day to be less grim than it appears today.
But right now that appears unlikely as 2011-12 is in doubt and this NBA season appears to be decided in the wrong kind of court.