The locked-out National Basketball Players Association has filed two separate class-action antitrust lawsuits against the NBA league owners, one each in Minnesota and California, claiming Commissioner David Stern’s ultimatums have left them no other options.
Players Association attorney David Boies lays the blame totally on the league owners, saying that the players were willing to accept a lesser cut of basketball-related revenue but that owners insisted on receiving a bigger slice of the pie. Basketball odds
The players have now taken the matter to court, seeking “treble damages” against the league— that is, triple the amount of the more than $2 billion they would have made under a full 2011-12 season—for what they argue is irreparable harm done by preventing them from playing in their “very short” NBA careers (estimated to average about 5 years) by being locked out. The lockout is now in its 139th day. All different types of players are represented in the suits – free agents, contract players, and rookies.
Boies said the NBA lockout violates antitrust laws by refusing to allow players to work even though they were still under contract.
Boies said that Stern’s ultimatum to the now-disbanded union to accept the owners’ last proposal or face a harsher one “turned out to be a mistake” that strengthens the players’ case because it proves that the collective bargaining process had ended. He also acknowledged that the case could take months to reach a settlement. Basketball spreads
Boies insists the players have shown their willingness to negotiate throughout the entire process.
The NBA already has filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in New York seeking to prove the lockout is legal and will likely try to get the cases moved there to gain some legal traction.
Boies said he believes NBA players currently have a stronger case than NFL players did in their lawsuit. The NFL players decertification could have been argued as a sham because they walked out on the bargaining process before it was technically over and then brought litigation. Boies said that Stern’s actions left NBA players without any options other than seeking legal relief.
The California filing says that in 2007, Stern met with union negotiators and demanded the players reduce their revenue share from 57 percent to no more than 50 percent and “insisted on a much more restrictive salary cap, which would restrict the market for player services.”
Stern threatened at that meeting, according to the lawsuit, that the owners were “prepared to lock out the players for two years to get everything” that the NBA owners wanted and that “the deal would only get worse after the lockout.”
Players were willing to consent to the owners’ demands of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income—a transfer of about $280 million annually from their guaranteed 57 percent under the old deal—but only if the owners met them on their system wishes.
The lockout began on July 1. The season was supposed to begin on Nov. 1, but already games through Dec. 15 have been canceled and it is likely that the rest of the season will be cancelled as well.