Los Angeles Lakers: NBPA

The NBPA raises the ante on the NBA: Thoughts from the room

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:17
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
As far as CBA stakeouts go, my first was pretty short. Only about two-and-a-half hours in the dim, maroon-hued lobby of the Westin Times Square. That should have been my first sign Monday wasn't going to end well for NBA fans.

Still, like many following along on Twitter or NBA TV, I held out some hope as the seemingly endless stream of mostly large, wholly athletic men, as if exiting some sort of roundball clown car parked just outside the door, filled what had to be the smallest meeting room the hotel had to offer. They formed one row, and another, and still another squeezing and shifting as even stars like Carmelo Anthony seemed stumped on where they'd wedge in. Finally, a full on NBA class photo, all the players were in place. All the while, Billy Hunter worked the room, greeting media members by name, shaking hands. He was smiling.

Kobe Bryant, the only player still wearing his sunglasses, seemed to get absorbed by his colleagues, consciously or not gravitating toward the left corner of the room and the door eventually allowing a quick exit. He wasn't smiling.

Neither was Derek Fisher. Should have been my next tip.

Hunter, first to the podium, didn't wait long to drop the bomb. He quickly thanked the group of athletes behind him, and noted the cross section of talent. Then, "We're here to announce that we've arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down," he said, "and as a result within the last hour we served a notice of disclaimer on Commissioner Stern and the NBA. We plan to disseminate that to all 30 team owners, so they'll know the action we have taken today.

"The players feel that they're not prepared to accept any ultimatums."

And with that, we were introduced to the next chapter of the negotiations. Out with the union leaders, as the union, legally, no longer exists. The NBPA is officially a trade association, no longer with collective bargaining rights but with the ability to create a class action suit against the league, seeking a summary judgment for damages on antitrust grounds. Fisher said the lawyers, Jeffery Kessler and David Boies, would now lead the charge.

Sounds awesome, I thought, as the giant sucking sound of optimism leaving the room whooshed by my ear.

(Read full post)

Derek Fisher revives the lost art of letter writing

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
5:23
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
While owners sort through their own issues regarding revenue sharing, after a week starting positively, ending negatively, and now seriously threatening the scheduled start of the season, NBPA President and Lakers guard Derek Fisher sent an email to union members (we call them "players") asking for solidarity.


AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Derek Fisher is encouraging the union to stick together, and resist calls for decertification.


Via Sam Amick at SI.com, you can read the letter here.

As you'd suspect given the author, it's a well-constructed, well-presented message, making a very strong case for the players to hold tight and avoid doing anything drastic in response to what appears to be a lack of progress. Something like decertification, for example. Here, Fisher takes a swipe at a group of influential agents reportedly pushing for players to dissolve the union:
"Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I'd like to address it. I've read yesterday's stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I'm working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don't make a commission, I don't make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.

It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives."

I'm not a labor lawyer (surprise!), and do share some of Fish's skepticism about the motives agents might have -- power, influence, and money come to mind -- for pushing decertification. Nor, from what I understand, did it work all that well as a tactic for the NFLPA during that league's lockout this summer. But whether you're on the side of the players, owners, or somewhere in between, from a fan's perspective this much seems clear: Decertification is a nuclear option. It all but guarantees a chunk of games will be missed, because such a step throws the entire process into the court system.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and time isn't something available in spades these days. Hopefully this is a fight Fisher and Billy Hunter win, because if they don't, there's a much higher chance the rest of us won't enjoy a moment of NBA action this year.

So maybe Fish has time for that Impact League after all?

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
5:49
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Uh oh. Not a good day for negotiations in New York.

Said NBPA president Derek Fisher, "I think coming out of today, obviously because of the calendar, we can't come out of here feeling as though training camps and the season is going to start on time at this point." While I suspect this will change relatively quickly, as of now no further meetings are scheduled.

Obviously this stage of the game allows for a certain degree of posturing, but for the nervous Nellies (not to be confused with the nagging Nellies) it's getting toward fingernail-chewing time.

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