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NBA LABOR PAINS II: THE WAR OF WORDS
Published June 22, 1995
NBA Commissioner David Stern, in a statement: "A disgruntled lawyer [Jeffrey Kessler], whose firm was terminated by the players association, filed the NLRB petition, and Marc Fleisher, the self-proclaimed spokesman for the group, represents very few NBA players and seems interested only in ousting the union leadership that replaced his father [Larry Fleisher]" (AP/Mult., 6/22). Fleisher: "David has been a family friend for a long time, and I'm surprised he's taking the low road here. That goes to show the players' message is getting across and has the NBA seriously concerned." Fleisher, on Gourdine FedExing the proposal to each NBA player overnight: "Great. ... Which means if they aren't home, they might not see it until tomorrow, or maybe after their player reps vote. Who the hell runs a union like that?" Fleisher noted that Pooh Richardson, a player rep who had signed a decertification notice, was not included in yesterday's conference calls (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22). OTHER QUOTES OF NOTE: Jim Paxson, a former NBPA officer and now a Blazers special assistant: "One hundred guys aren't doing this on their own" (OREGONIAN, 6/22). Hakeem Olajuwon called for a truce: "Now is not the time to get greedy. We players just have to sacrifice and do what is right for the players and also the owners" (CNBC, 6/21). NBPA Exec Cmte member Tyrone Corbin: "There will be some opposition, but I think once all the player reps get together and evaluate it a final time, I think it will pass" (Ailene Voisin, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/22). Magic Player Rep Donald Royal: "I like what I heard today. I think it will pass. It's different from anything we've had in the past, but I think it's a real good deal for the players" (Tim Povtak, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/22). The Heat's John Salley: "It trips me out that MJ [Michael Jordan] would sign that [decertification petition] and not think what is better for the league. ... That's not cool" (NEWSPORT, 6/21). Suns Player Rep Joe Kleine: "I think some of the criticism of Simon is unfair. If all these big-name players had showed this kind of interest earlier, we would have had a much stronger union" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22). Agent Arn Tellem said there was more to decertification than blocking the new CBA: "We have to repudiate this man [Gourdine] and stop him and let the league know he has no authority in representing the players" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). Leonard Armato, agent for Shaquille O'Neal: "I have been told that much of the strategy of the NBA is to prevent someone like Shaquille from maximizing his market potential" (L.A. TIMES, 6/22). Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney representing the dissenters: "From what we know about the deal that's been leaked out, it will be the worst deal in the history of professional team sports from the players' stadnpoint" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/22). More Kessler: "This is a rollback for the players. The happiest man in America today is David Stern. The only reason he's not happier is he sees that the rest of the players aren't going to let that happen" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). ONE AGENT-PLAYER RELATIONSHIP SOURS: Buck Williams said he was "very disappointed" in his agentm, David Falk, a leader of the decertification effort. Williams: "David has represented me for 14 years. He didn't call to tell me that he was getting involved in this. I thought it was very poor taste" (Mark Heisler, L.A. TIMES, 6/22).