It is no secret that in Indian Country, basketball is a beloved sport. The talent on reservations has been observed by gifted ballers from Shoni Schimmel to Kenny Dobbs. Kids grow up playing pick-up games and following the exploits of their favorite NBA stars, from Kevin Durant to Kobe Bryant. So it’s sad news indeed that it’s the fans who are getting hurt the most in this NBA lockout debacle.
Now, the entire NBA season is in danger of being canceled after talks between the owners and players broke down yesterday, and NBA Commissioner David Stern predicted a “nuclear winter” and admitted the season is in jeopardy. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that the labor standoff, which has been going on for nearly five months, fell into total chaos when NBA Players Association executive Billy Hunter and NBA Player’s Association President Derek Fisher announced that due to the quagmire of stalled negotiations, they were planning on filing an anti-trust lawsuit within 48 hours.
The labor negotiations went so badly that the players rejected the league’s final offer (to split league’s basketball revenues 50-50 between players and owners, which is a seven percent drop from what the players used to receive) and opted to “disclaim their union,” as New York Magazine reported. This means that the players are now qualified to form a “trade association,” which is not the same thing as a union, so they can file that anti-trust lawsuit against the league.
Stern took to ESPN to fire up his rhetoric after the decision:
Said Stern in a subsequent interview on ESPN: “The union decided in its infinite wisdom that the proposal would not be presented to membership [for a vote].” Stern’s animus towards union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler was cleary, when he added: “Obviously Mr. Kessler got his way and we are about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA. If I were a player, I would be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter just did.”
What all of this means now is there is likely no more direct negotiating between players and owners. It’s all in the lawyers hands, now, and barring an out-of-court settlement, fans are looking at a year without professional basketball as the players and owners continue fighting over money. Yesterday marked the 137th day of the lockout.
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