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NBA SUPERSTAR INSURRECTION BRINGS LABOR TALKS TO A HALT
Published June 20, 1995
While top NBPA execs met with NBA officials in New York again yesterday on a new CBA, "chaos reigned elsewhere," according to Ailene Voisin in today's ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. A group of NBA superstars, including Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, "led a rebellion designed to de-certify the union and/or oust the current leadership. Several of the game's best-known agents, their motives unclear, continued to rail against [NBPA Exec Dir] Simon Gourdine and president Buck Williams for refusing to divulge information to their constituents. Stunned NBA officials canceled a Board of Governors meeting. Dissenting union members were surprised, or worse" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/20). Jordan, who participated in conference call of the agent's Advisory Committee, was said to be "very upset" that Bulls Player Rep Steve Kerr knew nothing about the deal (L.A. TIMES, 6/20). REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT: One agent said Monday that 32 players (about 10% of NBPA members) had signed statements renouncing the union as their negotiating agent. If 51% sign, the union will be decertified and the players can sue, as their NFL counterparts did. The agent said the players are prepared to take the case before the same judge, U.S. District Court Judge David Doty of Minneapolis (Mark Heisler, L.A. TIMES, 6/20). In New York, Murray Chass notes that it is possible the notices "will never be delivered to the union, but will be used to induce Gourdine to be more forthcoming" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/20). Agent Steve Kauffman: "In football, the big difference was the union realized itself the best legal strategy was to decertify. In that instance, the players and the union were in agreement. But this revolt is like the Boston Tea Party. It truly is taxation without representation. The idea of a luxury tax is what sent these players wild" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/20). Magic Player Rep Donald Royal: "Before, [the union] sent me faxes or FedExed me about whatever was going on -- but lately, I've had to find out everything from the media" (Susan Slusser, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/20). Other players reported to have signed the notices: Reggie Miller, Horace Grant, Moses Malone, Scottie Pippen, Alonzo Mourning, Dino Radja, Sherman Douglas and at least three players reps -- Ed Pinckney of the Bucks, Scott Williams of the 76ers and Pooh Richardson of the Clippers (Mult., 6/20). SIMON SAYS: Gourdine's response: "I think everyone has been fully informed, except perhaps the agents. To that extent, I've taken the view that the agents advisory committee is what it says -- an advisory committee. With the time constraints I have, I get direction from the executive committee, player reps and ultimately all the players" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/20). More from Gourdine: "I understand we have a little insurrection on our hands. ... My message to the players is: be patient. They know that we're working in their best interests to get the best deal for them and enhance for them their earning potential" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/20). In Boston, Jackie MacMullan writes that the reaction has put a new CBA "in jeopardy, and could signal the end of the short reign of Simon Gourdine." A number of Advisory Committee members "said there will be a call for Gourdine's resignation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/20). DEAD DEAL? In L.A., Mark Heisler writes that it isn't known whether the postponements on consideration of the new CBA "are merely procedural or whether the deal is blowing up" (L.A. TIMES, 6/20). In New York, Shaun Powell writes, "The NBA's labor situation regressed from promising to grim" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/20). One "glitch," according Advisory Committee members, may be the NBPA's "lack of authority to sign over the licensing rights of its individual players to the NBA." In Dallas, David Moore cites Marc Fleisher and another agent on the specifics: Six-year term, expiring after 2000-2001; Salary cap up from $15.9M to $23M; All rookies would sign three-year deals at the average salary for those chosen at their draft spot from the previous six years; the "Larry Bird Exception" would remain in place, but the league would assess a tax on any team that uses the exception to exceed the cap. There would be no tax in the '95-96 season, a 50% tax in '96-97, and a 100% tax for the remainder of the contract (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/20).