Tuesday, November 15, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "David Stern began with his usual lawyerly discipline, but could not make it last. He screwed on his best dour face and piled on the angry rhetoric, making sure not to let more than a few syllables pass before blaming someone in charge of the players’ union now downgraded to a trade association. The NBA blew up on Monday and everybody lost. The union turned down the NBA’s last offer without a vote, instead voting unanimously to file a notice of disclaimer of interest, allowing players to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA. David Boies, the high-powered and highly respected lawyer who has represented clients as varied as Al Gore and the NFL, will take over. Negotiations are over. A 2011-12 season is unlikely. Stern quickly vented to ESPN. ... At no point, however, did he ever accept any responsibility for anything. Some of his points might be correct. And the chances that the players will ever receive a deal on par with the offer now rejected seem small. But Stern’s job was to deliver a deal. The owners wanted widespread changes that benefit them. They were more determined than ever before. But Stern had to be the one to guide them, to know it would come to this and how to get a deal and a season. Even if he is right and the players’ move on Monday proves to be a mistake, Stern’s handling of the negotiations backfired. He tried threats and ultimatums. He tried media tours and a Twitter question and answer session. He tried so much spin he sounded like a candidate’s spokesman after a debate. It all worked to harden the players’ resolve and eat away at any trust the players might have had left in anything he had to say. They felt he was trying to manipulate and strong-arm them. They should have been opposition. They came to view him as the enemy."
- Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "David Stern keeps waiting for this monumental insurrection from NBA players furious over their leadership. Stern figured the players, desperate over losing paychecks and not meeting payments on their luxury vehicles, would have bowed down to the owners by now and proclaimed their sincere thanks for giving them anything while not detonating the entire season. But he didn’t count on Paul Pierce pulling a Norma Rae, declaring militant solidarity despite the fact his graying Celtics might lose their last shot at contending for a title. Stern didn’t count on the divide in his own constituency, between hard-line and let’s-get-this-damn-season-started owners, who are further apart at the moment than the players have ever been in this labor war. And the NBA commissioner clearly didn’t count on the players union playing a card this deep in a $4 billion negotiation, which Monday put the 2011-12 season on the precipice of cancellation."
- Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: "How foolish, vain, smug and self-important do the players look now? Really, who do these people think they are? Seriously, New Jersey guard Anthony Morrow needs to have his computer taken away for Tweeting, 'We're not gonna be Strong-Armed.' It's somewhat troubling for me to write those words because I've never believed a pro athlete is overpaid. No one forces an owner to negotiate a deal or write a check. These people have special talents and are compensated in a way that the market will bear. But there also comes a time when common sense should tell everyone that enough is enough. Compromise. Make a deal. Stop treating a business like it's such a war of machismo. ... If the players think these owners will crack, they are sadly mistaken. There are enough owners out there willing to trash the season in order to reclaim the financial control they willingly ceded to the players. These owners and Stern deserve each other. Sad thing is, nobody in Milwaukee deserves Stern or the union."
- Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail: "Credit the NBA players for not allowing Stern to geld them. Credit them, too, for not going nuclear, because the players’ move to dissolve their union and file an anti-trust suit was a measured response to a hard-line position taken by Stern. It was not a full-scale decertification, which, as Hunter noted, could have taken up to 45 days, effectively killing the season. Legal analysts say this process is easier to reverse than decertification and that de facto bargaining can be done through the lawyers for both sides. It’s an olive twig if not an olive branch."
- Ailene Voisin of the The Sacramento Bee: "For one of the few times in their existence, the little guys are taking it to the big boys. Many of the NBA's small and mid-size franchises are resisting David Stern, outnumbering their colleagues and putting the squeeze on the players who make the league what it is, for better or worse. Can this marriage be repaired? Can the bulk of the 2011-12 NBA season be salvaged? Good luck. There isn't a winner in the bunch."
- Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "After more than four months of bickering and rhetoric, the dysfunctional relations between NBA owners and locked-out players was perhaps best summarized by a message greeting visitors to the union's Web site Monday night: 'Error 404: Basketball Not Found. Please be patient as we work on resolving this. We are sorry for the inconvenience.' In a day filled with chaos and uncertainty, no league official or union attorney might have described the surreal events any better. ... Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall draft pick and Cavs future building block, is taking college courses at Duke. He entered the 2011 draft following his freshman season. On his Twitter account, Irving wrote: '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 I'm a dukie always but regardless of how long this lockout goes I'm a Cavalier.' "
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: "I’ve been on the side of the players throughout the lockout, but decertification of the players union at this point is a bridge that should have been crossed this summer by the union. Now it reeks of a strong minority of the players looking out for their best interest. Or more like their agents pushing the buttons, considering the deal that was walked away from on Monday was definitely unfriendly to agents. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t fair. Or as fair as the owners were going to make it. The proposals that were being thrown out by the owners throughout the summer and into September were without question a back-of-the-hand slap to the face of the players. This latest proposal, however? Walking away from that is a bad move."
- Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "If, in fact, the NBA players have busted the union after saying no to the owners’ latest collective-bargaining proposal, I offer a hearty congratulations. Man, are you guys blowing it. I read the proposal commissioner David Stern released to all the players over the weekend. I was struck by how severely it would punish the teams with salaries beyond the luxury tax threshold, which is a good thing for parity and the idea of small-market teams being able to compete. ... I’m told only 50 of the NBA’s 420 active players attended Monday’s union meeting in New York. That’s a travesty. It means nearly 90 percent of the players are allowing a handful to make a decision that will affect the league for the next decade. Disgraceful. The players are being led down an errant path by a group of big-time agents who are looking out for the best interests of only the game’s stars, not the rank-and-file players. I’m not a fan of the NBA owners, and I don’t like the posturing by Stern that includes terms such as 'charade' and 'nuclear winter.' But with both sides drawing lines in the sand, I don’t see the owners being moved to cross over with even one toe."
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "In the wake of the players rejecting the owners' latest proposal and a probability that the 2011-12 season will be canceled, Memphis' franchise players are now seriously considering other options. Playing overseas is on the minds of Gay and Randolph as the league's labor dispute heads into overtime. 'If there's no season, I'm definitely going to explore going over the water,' Randolph said. 'This is horrible. I feel bad for the fans and players like myself who love to play. ... But I support the union. I want to play, but I stick by what they're doing.' The NBPA filed a 'notice of disclaimer,' arguing that the bargaining process had broken down. The process means the union converts to a trade association and that all players will be represented in a class-action suit against the NBA. The circumstance also means players will look for other means of employment. 'With what's going on now you have to explore your options,' said Alex Saratsis, Gay's agent. 'A lot of people are going to find out that a lot of money isn't there. But if you're savvy enough you'll find something.' ... Randolph added that he believes the league underestimated the players' resolve."
- Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "His team’s veteran core is in the twilight of its viability, and there is now the increasingly real possibility Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett could lose perhaps their last chance at glory together. 'It wasn’t an easy decision,' said Rondo, the team’s alternate player representative. 'But at the end of the day, you can’t look selfishly when you try to make these decisions. You try to look for the best decision as a whole.' Asked if he was afraid of losing the season, he said, 'I ain’t afraid of nothing. That’s part of the decision we made as a whole. We don’t have any regrets. We’ve just got to stand strong. I hope there’ll be a season. That’s the plan. We want to play. The fans want to see us play. Right now, it’s a little bump in the road.' "
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Let’s me say this about the NBA players: Their latest move in the ongoing NBA labor dispute is an admirable one, but not a very smart one. In fact, I have more respect for NBA players right now than I have throughout this cumbersome and contentious negotiating process. At least now the players are showing they stand for something. They are collectively and individually risking something tangible — millions and millions of dollars in annual salary — to stand up and fight against what they feel is an unfair deal that owners are trying shove down their throats. ... Don’t get me wrong, I may think it’s admirable that players are standing and fighting, but I don’t think it makes much business sense. Just ask the NHL players who decided to stand and fight in 2004-2005. The hockey season was cancelled back then, the players lost a year’s salary and still signed the same deal they had initially refused."
- Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "It wasn’t too long ago that the players were easily viewed as the sympathetic figures in this dispute, being bullied by a commissioner who had a detailed plan and was hell bent on executing it. But little sympathy remains for a group that has stumbled its way to the edge of disaster. This latest strategy is months late, and it will leave them millions of dollars short."
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The prospect of no NBA season has some Pacers looking into playing elsewhere. 'The next step for me is to consider going overseas,' Pacers guard Darren Collison said by phone Monday. 'I have to explore other options from this point going forward. I'm tired of working out. I want to play some games.' Danny Granger, Dahntay Jones and Tyler Hansbrough also said earlier they would look into playing overseas if the lockout lasted for an extended time."
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The players will miss their first paychecks of this season on Tuesday. Soon, there will be Christmas presents to buy and lifestyles that need to be kept. And here's another loser in the stalemate: charitable causes. A case in point: the Mavericks announced last week their annual coat drive. The one thing missing was Jason Terry, who has been a staunch supporter and sponsor of the coat drive every year. Those sorts of things hurt everybody. It's a sad day because the NBA is closer now to not having a season than they have ever been. What is important now is that both sides don't give up. As long as they are still fighting each other, that means they are both trying. Hope is all that's left right now."
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "At least four Bulls said they had signed papers authorizing a decertification petition before Monday's actions. A call to Boozer didn't get returned. And now, all bets are off. Players will more aggressively consider overseas options, including Luol Deng in England and Joakim Noah in France. C.J. Watson tweeted that he planned to finish his college degree."
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels told the Beacon Journal Monday morning while the player representatives were meeting that he didn’t like the proposal, but would’ve voted to accept it. 'A lot of people in the league are panicking,' Samuels said. 'You’re talking about missing paychecks. Those paychecks you’re missing are going to add up and guys have families and responsibilities and bills to pay. I’m just a guy that’s coming out of college. I’m 22 years old, I don’t have much responsibility.' ... Some of the league’s stars, such as Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, have led the charge in recent days to disband the union, irking some of the younger players like Samuels. 'It’s easy for Paul Pierce to say that. You’ve been in the league how long?' Samuels said. 'You’ve got a decent amount of money saved up, but what about the guys just coming into the league who don’t have [anything] saved up?' Samuels was an undrafted rookie last season."
- Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel: "It didn't take long for at least one major business to react to the news that the NBA players had rejected the league's contract offer. MillerCoors, which spends heavily on sports advertising and has sponsorship deals with many NBA teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, announced Monday it was withholding all payments to its NBA partners until a resolution to the lockout is found. Peter Marino, a MillerCoors spokesman, said the decision was made after players rejected the NBA's latest offer. He said the payments will be made in full upon resolution of the bitter dispute."