Posts Tagged ‘Billy Hunter’

ROI: Zirin nails it, yet again

Monday, November 28th, 2011

NBA Lockout Ends and Players Get Played

I understand that, but it didn’t have to be this way. This deal is just all so very pre-Occupy Wall Street. I wish more players had spoken out and not let David Stern’s PR machine define them as “greedy millionaires, insensitive to the public’s suffering in these hard economic times.” I wish more had directly raised the issues of Occupy Wall Street, like 11 year veteran Etan Thomas who wrote, “While the issues raised by the Wall Street occupiers differ from the issues of this lockout, aren’t there obvious parallels in power imbalance? Who is in the same position of power as the 1 percent ? Who wants a bailout for their own mismanagement decisions? Who is more closely aligned with the corporate interests from which the Wall Street occupiers are looking to reclaim the country?”

I wish they had taken their fight out of the boardroom and into the public sphere. Make no mistake, I’m an NBA junkie and I’m thrilled to be watching ball sooner rather than later. But with every game of this warped, bastardized 66 game season, I’ll remember that we had a lockout where the rich got richer, the players got played and the fans didn’t get a damn thing.

Whenever you feel bullied, it’s a good thing to have the financial wherewithal needed to stand your ground

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Untangling Monday’s NBA lockout web

What do the players mean when they say they will “disclaim” their union status and file antitrust litigation?

The word “disclaim” is important. It is a new word in this context since we went through the NFL lockout earlier this year, and it is the first step in a new process that the players hope will expedite their antitrust litigation and give them some negotiating leverage they do not now have. When the NBA players “disclaim” their union rights, it is different from the “decertification” of union rights that the NFL players did when they were locked out by NFL owners.

What difference will the change of words and procedures make?

The players have obviously learned from what happened when the NFL players decertified: They were unable to stop the NFL owners’ lockout with an injunction. It is not a big surprise that they learned from that experience. The same lawyers who decertified the NFL union are now disclaiming the NBA union — Jeffrey Kessler and David Feher. But there is some doubt that the disclaimer will eliminate the owners’ legal position. The owners will argue that the move is a sham, but the players will have a more persuasive response to that claim. They will tell the judge that the union is no longer bargaining and that the only possible bargaining after disclaimer can be with plaintiffs (players) who file the antitrust lawsuit. Instead of delaying the antitrust case for months, I believe the owners’ claim of a sham will be quickly ended in a ruling for the players.

Among the rhetoric being exchanged on Monday was this from David Stern about the union’s move to disclaim: “It’s just a big charade and it’s really irresponsible given the timing of it.” Is the commissioner right or wrong?

He is wrong. Stern may wish the players’ action was a charade, but it is a serious legal action against an obvious monopoly that is using its total control of the market to take money and benefits from players. Stern and the owners have been worried about this since they began their lockout. The timing shows only that the players patiently negotiated until they realized the owners were asking for too much.

Kudos to the NBA Players

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Hopeful that NBA Players will have enough fortitude to reject owners’ strong-arm tactics

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

What will the players do next?

So what is likely to happen?

From a strict business standpoint, the players’ best move is to offer a counterproposal, and to be prepared to accept the league’s proposal if their counterproposal is rejected. Perhaps one more bargaining session can be scheduled to hammer out an acceptable compromise.

But the players aren’t operating from a strict business standpoint. They’re angry. They feel that they haven’t gotten a fair deal from the owners, and the only way to ensure a fair deal is to take the league to court. They are tired of making all the concessions. They are tired of being backed into the corner. They are tired of ultimatums. They’re prepared to suffer the consequences of a canceled season.

It all comes down to Fisher, and how he intends to describe the league’s proposal to the player representatives. If he describes it as the best deal the players are going to get and says the alternatives are too costly to consider, then the representatives — and the players at large — will follow his lead. If his description begins, “Here are the reasons this is still a bad deal,” then the players will say “no,” the owners’ proposal will reset, and the union will likely decertify — with a small window of opportunity to negotiate before the decertification becomes official.

So that’s where we are now. The players have a number of options, but they really boil down to just two: They can accept the owners’ proposal (or something close to it) and save the season or they can say “no,” decertify their union, and likely kill it.

By delivering an ultimatum, Stern has put the season in the hands of the players — and he’s ensured a mid-November verdict. It’s now up to the players to decide which is the lesser of two evils.

ROI: Aldridge sees ‘check-mate’ coming around next corner

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Cut off at every turn, union has one choice: Take the deal

But this isn’t about fair. This is about the NBA putting its house back in order — naked, real-world realpolitik. If you understand nothing else about these negotitations, understand this: this isn’t just about money, at least not totally; this is about re-establishing who’s in charge.

For three years, starting in 2008, NBA teams twisted themselves into pretzels to clear cap space for the free-agent class of 2010. No single group of players ever wielded more brute force than that one, headlined by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire. On the mere hope of getting James, the Knicks basically went into receivership for 36 months. The Bulls similarly cleared the decks; having lucked into Derrick Rose via the 2007 Draft, Chicago dumped the likes of John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich for almost nothing while it waited. Miami became a JUCO team for two seasons, while Riles and Andy Elisburg — the smartest cap guy in the league — bided their time and worked their spreadsheets.

And James lorded it over them, making them come to him in Ohio those first two weeks in July last year, then making the whole league watch his Decision on the Four-Letter Network, reality TV writ large, making all these billionaires and multi-millionaires nothing more than pawns, waiting for LeBron Trump to tell them who was fired and who was hired. Dan Gilbert went Comic Sans Crazy as his franchise lost $100 million in worth in the blink of an eye, and it scared the other owners out of their minds. It ticked them off, too.

Carmelo Anthony — also, like James, Wade and Bosh a member of the Draft class of 2003 — would wield his cudgel a year later, holding the Nuggets hostage for more than six months before he got traded to the team he wanted to be traded to all along, the Knicks (who, coincidentally, signed Stoudemire after missing out on Bosh, Wade and James). And the owners in small markets, already mad at the Commish for not having more “robust” (the league’s favorite word on this topic) revenue sharing, already feeling like they were falling further behind, got their backs up. The Jazz didn’t even wait for Deron Williams to humiliate them, sending him on his way to the Nets a year before they had to.

But the Players’ Spring has ended, cracked down with brute force, and now their options are bad or worse, and bad is on the 3:30 train out of town.


It will certainly be interesting to see if the NBAPA is willing to die on principle … and, what eventually comes about if it, indeed, chooses to go this route.

ROI: High degree of ‘Basketball Acumen’ is what determines ‘winners’ from ‘losers’ in NBA

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Tom Haberstroh hits a home run:


The payroll and competitive balance myth

What it means for competitive balance
Of course, we knew all along that the draft is important, but now we see it as an absolutely critical ingredient to the championship recipe. If payroll predicted championships, then the Knicks would have a dynasty by now. Instead, they largely ignored the draft, sold the lottery picks to other teams and look what it got them: a blood-red cell in the winning percentage column.

In order to be competitive in the NBA, you don’t necessarily need to have a lot of money, but you absolutely need to be smart with your money. And the smart money tends to be in the draft. When Stern says the system is broken because of the disparity in payroll, feel free to listen to the Lakers-Kings comparison but also note that the Thunder has been able to fast track success in a supposedly broken system.

Stern strives for a hard cap (or a punitive luxury tax disguised as one) and claims his pursuit is for the good spirit of competitive balance, but a closer examination shows that payroll and winning are not directly correlated.

What we’ve learned is that spending is cyclical. The smart organizations, like all businesses, try not to spend until they need to. As an example, the Boston Celtics’ payroll the year before they formed their Big Three? It ranked 19th in the NBA. The year before that it was 21st. They lost over 100 games over those two seasons.

The NBA might contend that the Celtics weren’t winning because they weren’t spending. But we must be careful about confusing cause and effect here. It may also be the case that the Celtics weren’t spending because they weren’t winning. Why throw big money at free agents when it won’t really move the needle for title contention? Perhaps it is better to keep costs low until you can swing a big trade or increase your chances to land a superstar in the draft (see: Thunder, Spurs, Bulls).

Teams run into trouble by buying average players in a free agency market that usually comes with a “winner’s curse” premium. If you spend money just to spend it, you find yourself in the in-between world that the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors currently occupy. As we’ve seen time and time again, if you want to be competitive, follow the lead of most champions: build through the draft and be smarter with your cash.

Of course, it helps to have more cash, which allows teams to be more flexible and spend when they need to spend. But if there’s a disparity of haves and have-nots in the NBA, the real disparity can be found in management, not dollars.


In fact, yours truly would go even further than Tom has in this article and assert unequivocally that the REAL disparity of haves and have-nots in the NBA is not found, either, [a] “in dollars,” or [b] “in management”, in a general sense, per se … defined as, “basketball-related decision-making, within a broad sphere” … but, rather, in something which is better defined, in a more narrow sense, as [c] “having the ability to appraise basketball-related NBA-level talent – insofar as selecting players in the draft, and the hiring of a GM and a head coach is concerned – with a high degree of accuracy.”

NBA owners and players each dig in for a protracted lockout

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

As was first mentioned in this space last Saturday

NBA lockout puts entire season in jeopardy

Commissioner David Stern has long warned that once games are missed, both sides might stiffen their proposals in hopes of recovering what’s been lost, which is why he said last week he feared games could be lost through Christmas without a deal this week.

After three days and 30 hours of meetings with a federal mediator, negotiations fell apart when union officials said they were told they must commit to a 50-50 split of revenues before owners would agree to discuss the salary cap system.

“Right now, they’re saying it’s got to be a precondition. If we’re going to meet, you’ve got to agree to accept 50-50. So as long as that edict is out there, then when are we going to meet?” Hunter said. “We’re saying we’re unwilling to meet unless we can talk about the system independent of the number.”

There is no indication owners will be prepared to go beyond a 50-50 split, and with players currently at 52.5 or 53, the sides are about $100 million apart on an annual basis.


Unfortunately, for each side in this dispute the “lockout” was never ever about, “Doing what is best for the game of basketball.”

There is a good chance that there will be no NBA games played this season

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

What today’s TrueHoop article REALLY means …


The moment the talks fell apart

“System changes”

There’s another thing that could be happening, too.

Remember The Decision? That night in July 2010, something happened that angered basketball fans like nothing else. It can be framed as LeBron James being egotistical, or cowardly, or whatever else. But it can also be framed as a young black man just being sick of doing what old white guys tell him to do.

There was a playbook for free agency, a procedure, some decorum. And James tossed it. No, after earning Dan Gilbert the sun, the moon and the stars, he does not also owe him a phone call. No, he doesn’t have to let some other, whiter, older entity control the production of his announcement. No, he doesn’t have to stick to the storyline of local hero, or even player. He really does have the power to play GM, to assemble a super team, and that’s what he would do.

The message to a lot of fans was that James just got it all wrong. But the message to a lot of players was that James did what 1,000 players have been dreaming of doing for years — he acted fully empowered — and it’s hard to say he failed at it. He made his millions, and the Finals. His team is intact. His business life is sound. He’ll be contending for championships for years.

It’s a business revolution with young black men, basketball players, in the corner offices. A new way of doing things, long overdue, and happening now.

And maybe that’s what Stern encountered in that hotel room in New York: a new generation of fully empowered players who no longer believe they have to conform to much of anything.

Just three days earlier, with James in attendance, James’ teammate Dwyane Wade had yelled at David Stern. “You’re not pointing your finger at me,” Wade said, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher. “I’m not your child.”

On Friday, a role player for a middling team got a surprise phone call, from just about the biggest name in the sport — somebody who had never called him before. The message: Hold firm at 53. We’re not caving. Hang in there. It wasn’t the only call of its kind, and when you talk to players now there is religious fervor, around the number 53, and around not giving owners any freebies on the other issues.

Owners are indignant that they have endured dreadful losses that must be righted. Players, meanwhile, are indignant that compared to the old CBA every concession to date has come from them. The issues are sounding more religious than ever, and it’s doubtful that, at the moment, anyway, either Hunter or Stern is capable of rallying his followers to build a bridge to the other side.

And if it’s driven by players’ blossoming and deep-rooted self-determination, then they can’t be expected to budge. I just hope, for the NBA’s sake, that they chose the correct line to draw in the sand.


is that there will probably be no 2011-2012 NBA season with each side involved in the current lockout unprepared to meet the other at the halfway point between 47.0% [i.e. the NBA owners' best offer] and 53.0% [i.e. the NBAPA's minimum requirement], in terms of Basketball Related Income [BRI].

Misplaced ‘blame’ on David Stern for current NBA Lockout is simply ‘wrong’

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Exhibit A

Blame Stern if push comes to shove in NBA talks

All hell’s going to break loose on Manhattan’s East Side Tuesday, and David Stern has been asking for this agent uprising from the beginning of these labor talks. He’s been asking for the fight of his life, and maybe, the implosion of his sport when this should be a golden time. So, stop the preening, stop the end-zone dance and make those rich guys start to stare at their shoes again. For once, be the commissioner of the NBA, not just the owners. Enough’s enough, bully.

Exhibit B

Owners get what they want, will now wait for the players to crumble

… we’re once again going to call on David Stern to act as commissioner of the National Basketball Association, and not his owners’ lead legal counsel. This is for the good of the game, and the myriad economic ripples that surround it in every NBA city and even the homes featuring men and women whose livelihoods are tangentially reliant on NBA games to put food on the table. We’re yelling at Stern for doing his job.



Q1. When solid writers like Adrian Wojnarowski and Kelly Dwyer both swing and miss, placing blame for the current NBA lockout on the League Commissioner, David Stern, what hope is there really for the average fan to understand the major problems properly?

A1. Not much, when you get down to the bottom line.

The simple and unfortunate facts of the matter in this case are:

1. David Stern WORKS for the NBA owners.

2. David Stern does NOT work for the NBA Players Association.

3. David Stern does NOT work “for the good of the [NBA] game.”

4. Billy Hunter WORKS for the NBA Players Association.

5. Billy Hunter does NOT work “for the good of the NBA game.”

6. Adrian Wojnarowski WORKS for Yahoo! Sports.

7. Adrian Wojnarowski does NOT work “for the good of the NBA game.”

8. Kelly Dwyer WORKS for Yahoo! Sports.

9. Kelly Dwyer does NOT work “for the good of the NBA game.”

10. Those with “vested interests” on either side of an acrimonious labour discussion rarely, if ever, have an unbiased perspective on what would actually constitute a “fair deal” from the perspective of both sides, i.e. A) Management, and B) Labour.