Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodbye NBA...We Hardly Knew Ye...

Most foks thought it would come to this, no one really wanted it to though.

Yesterday at around 2 P.M. The NBA Players Association announced via press conference that they have rejected that latest collective bargaining proposal from the NBA owners. They also announced that all 30 team representatives voted unanimously to send a 'disclaimer letter' to the NBA saying that the union is dissolved immmediately and they are now the NBA Trade Association. The NBATA plans to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA within the next 48 hours.

In other words, the nuclear button has been pressed & the warhead is cruising towards the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

Now while a disclaimer letter is a more immediate version of what union decertification is, it isn't as definitive. Disclaimers allow a union not only to dissolve, but to return quickly with a vote. This may prove useful for folks hanging on to the sliver of hope that a season is still feasible.

However, this situation can get completely out of control in a hurry. Here's a few examples:

1.) Various reports are already stating that many team representatives voted for the nuclear option without consulting rank & file members. A countersuit is possible.

2.) One of the biggest assets that David Stern has for the owners is his ability to extort cities into taking the brunt of the costs of building new arenas with threatening relocation. This development can destroy that for Stern. He may not only face lawyers from the NBATA, but also the cities of Charlotte, Sacramento, Orlando, and New Orleans among others. Hell, Seattle might join in for old time's sake.

3.) The owners will be forced to open their books, something their NFL counterparts tried to avoid at all cost. This might expose a good amount of owners that are crying poor.

4.) The NBA might lose the casual fan for a generation.

Reason #4 is the most important for both sides. Basketball more than most major sports in the US relies on casual fans. Losing them would cripple the league to possible extinction.

No side is clean in this debacle. All share some amount of blame.

The owners are at fault for letting their greed overtake the fact that they won this round. Around $3 billion in revenue shifted from players to owners during negotiations. That is a win in any industry. The owners let it come to this however.

The players are at fault for lack of unity and cohesion. Throughout this ordeal it was clear that they were fractured. That gave hard line owners enough leverage to stick to their guns. The union also did a terrible job on the PR front. They could have let players like Steve Nash be their mouthpiece, but they didn't.

Stern is at fault for making too many promises. It is widely known that Stern woowed potential owners with the promise that the next CBA would favor them. Now those owners are pushing for their deal. He had lost much influence to people like Dan Gilbert & Michael Jordan.

Now that this is moving from the negotiating table to the courtroom it can end one of two ways.

Either, like in the NFL lockout, both sides keep meeting via lawyers & come to a deal...or both sides dig in & possibly kill the league using the court as execution grounds.

Only the parties involved will decide which road they will take.

Lord have mercy.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guess Whos Behind The Curtain!

It isn't Dan Gilbert.

It isn't Robert Sarver

It isn't even Paul Allen.

No ladies & gentlemen, the man that is standing between the fans and having NBA basketball this year is Michael Jordan.

...motherbleeping Michael Jordan!?

In case you missed it, Howard Beck of the New York Times reported today that there are factions of hard-liners on both sides of the NBA labor negotiations meeting on Saturday that could threaten the entire 2011-12 season. It looked like a typical article covering the Greek tragedy that the NBA lockout has become at first. Then that little Jordan nugget hit me.

Jordan wasn't just voicing an opinion, he isn't just one of the hard-line owners...he's their leader!

Let's think about that for a moment.

Michael Lee, who covers the Washington Wizards for the Washington Post, reminded folks on Twitter how during the last major NBA lockout in 1999 Jordan told the late Wizards owner Abe Pollin  "If you can't make it work economically, you should sell the team." Pollin would later become Jordan's boss after he retired for the second time.

Now 12 years later with Jordan being on the other side of the table as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats he is leading a group of owners in seeking a Wall Street TARP-style bailout (thanks Jason Whitlock) on the backs of the players.

No one should really be surprised though, this is Michael Jordan.

The same Michael Jordan who purposely kept Isiah Thomas off the 1992 Olympic Dream Team.

The same Michael Jordan who gave one of the most, if not the most egotistical induction speeches in the history of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The same Michael Jordan who didn't stand against Jesse Helms, one of the most despicable human beings to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.

Jordan only looks out for Jordan. This time though, it may be at the expense of everyone else.