SBD/Issue 57/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NBPA Files Unfair Labor Charges For Ball, Behavior Policy

    Hunter Says New Basketball
    Cutting Hands Of Players Like Kidd

    The NBPA filed two “unfair labor practice charges” against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Friday, asking the NLRB to “investigate what it said were the NBA’s unilateral actions” regarding the new synthetic ball and rules for on-court conduct, according to Liz Robbins of the N.Y. TIMES. The NBPA claims that it was “not informed beforehand of the changes.” NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said in a statement, “There is virtual unanimity amongst the players about their concerns and intense dislike for the new synthetic ball and the ‘zero tolerance’ policy.” NBA VP/Communications Tim Frank said the league is “reviewing the filing.” Robbins noted the NBPA’s claims “may be the union’s only course of action, a public way of appeasing its members in an area where [NBA] Commissioner David Stern seems to have broad powers” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).

    BALL CAUSING CUTS: Hunter said that several players Shave told him the ball causes hand injuries.” Hunter: “They tell me when they handle the ball, it cuts their hands. Paper cuts. [Nets G] Jason Kidd told me he gets cuts every night.” Hunter added players “think zero tolerance is something to straitjacket them. ... I wonder if it’s an effort to move toward a system similar to the NFL where they brand the team rather than the player” (USA TODAY, 12/4). The AP’s Brian Mahoney reported while players are adjusting to the new ball, they are “having a much harder time with the crackdown on reactions after the whistle.” Through 225 games this season, there have been 175 unsportsmanlike technical foul calls, up from 120 through the same period last year. However, the total is “on par with the amount from two years ago” (AP, 12/1).

    Does New Conduct Policy Qualify
    As Unfair Labor Practice?
    PLAYER REAX: Mavericks G Devean George said the NBA does not do “a very good job of warning us about changes. They don’t give us a fair share on rule changes. They just do it and say, ‘Here it is.’ Can’t we get some say-so?” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/2). Rockets F Juwan Howard, a former NBPA VP, said, “It’s good to see the union is taking a stand to look out for the players’ best interests. We all know a lot of players have been complaining about the ball and the referees’ reactions to some players’ emotions on the court.” Rockets F and player rep Chuck Hayes added, “Some things we’re going to have to live with, but we have to flex our power every now and then” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/4). Wizards G Antonio Daniels said, “The ball is the biggest issue because that was a strict power move. We had no say in the matter, and we’re the ones who have to go out and play with it” (WASHINGTON POST, 12/2). Mavericks G Jerry Stackhouse said of the conduct policy, “We’re not robots. ... Don’t penalize all 300 players because of four or five players and their antics” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/2). Jazz G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said, “I don’t think we ever will get to a place where we have a say in what [Stern] and owners would like to see put forth ... but we definitely would like a larger piece of input in terms of how those rules are laid down” (DESERET NEWS, 12/3).

    COLUMNIST REAX:’s Chris Sheridan wrote players complaining about the ball is a “good fight,” as there is “no language in the [CBA] dealing with the question of the type of ball used in NBA games.” However, Hunter “did himself a disservice here by lumping this battle in with the other battle over technical fouls. ... It’ll be a tough sell for them to make the case that the rules have been substantially changed to such a degree that it’s an unfair labor practice. The statistical evidence doesn’t back up their argument.” Sheridan: “One is a legitimate beef. The other is not” (, 12/1). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen wrote, “One would think the [NLRB] would have more important things to worry about than technical free throws or if the ball is slippery. ... But the NBA brought this on itself with its dismissive and belittling treatment of the players” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/3). In L.A., Mark Heisler wrote the claims amount “to a nuisance suit. The question is why [Stern], committed to showing ‘our players’ in their best light in his prized ‘NBA Cares’ campaign, keeps finding himself in long-running arguments with his players that undermine or cancel out the entire initiative” (L.A. TIMES, 12/3).

    Print | Tags: Dallas Mavericks, ESPN, Houston Rockets, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, NFL, Utah Jazz, Walt Disney, Washington Wizards
  • George Mitchell Issues Delay Statement In MLB Steroid Query

    George Mitchell (l) Says Lack Of Power To
    Order Testimony Slowing Steroid Probe

    Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said that his probe into steroid use in baseball “has been delayed because he lacks power to order testimony,” according to Ronald Blum of the AP. Mitchell in a statement said, “From the outset I believed that the absence of such power would significantly increase the amount of time necessary to complete the investigation, and it has.” Blum noted while team officials have testified, Mitchell “can’t order any of the unionized players to cooperate,” and none “is known to have testified.” Mitchell: “Cooperation has been good from many of those from whom we have sought testimony and documents, but has been less than good from some others. This will not affect the result of the investigation, but it has increased the length of time it will take me to complete the investigation” (AP, 12/1). Mitchell “has repeatedly declined to offer a timetable for when the investigation might be finished” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).

    WHERE DOES IT GO FROM HERE? In N.Y., Selena Roberts notes Mitchell has not asked MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “for help in cracking the union’s secret society, yet.” Selig: “If we could get definitive answers, it would help. ... What happened during X period of years.” Roberts writes Mitchell “needs subpoena power he’ll never have. ... For players to ignore Mitchell is to dismiss what is truly in their best interest: closure” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/3).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB
  • NFLPA Offers To Reduce NFL Salary Cap To Aid Stadium Efforts

    The NFLPA “has offered to reduce the league’s salary cap by $800[M] over the first 15 years” of a new Giants-Jets stadium “in a move that could finally lead to the go-ahead” for the facility, according to Kaplan & Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The union “is willing to make the move because the new stadium is projected to generate so much revenue that the cap would increase on average $2[M] annually, or $960[M] total across the league over 15 years even after the reduction.” NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw: “We have to build a stadium in New York, there is no doubt about it. We are willing to do our part” (SBJ, 12/4 issue).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, New York Giants, New York Jets, San Francisco Giants
  • League Notes

    Jimmie Johnson Takes Home Over $15M
    For Winning NASCAR Nextel Cup

    In Charlotte, David Poole wrote NASCAR “deserves credit for figuring out a way to cut” the duration of Friday night’s Nextel Cup awards banquet in N.Y. Shorter “was absolutely better. But still, you wonder about some choices made.” A little less of host Jay Mohr “could have meant a couple of minutes for [champion crew chief Chad] Knaus to be acknowledged.” The “real way to fix the banquet is the same as it has always been. Bring fans in” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/2). Champion driver Jimmie Johnson collected a record $15.8M, including $6.8M from the sponsor’s points fund. Over $22M in money was distributed, “the largest top-10 point fund payout in series history” (AP, 12/2).

    WTA: The USTA “still isn’t pleased with the direction” of the WTA’s Roadmap 2010. A USTA official: “This still doesn’t work for us. The U.S. Open Series needs a consistent TV schedule, with back-to-back, consecutive-weeks coverage of top tournaments and the roadmap takes away from that.” USTA officials in a letter to WTA CEO Larry Scott wrote, “Your plans put the TV package and the race for the U.S. Open bonus prize money in jeopardy. ... How can the U.S. stand by and allow this to take place” (, 11/21).

    FILING DEADLINE: Thoroughbred owners and trainers sued NYRA in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, “claiming it diverted [$15-20M] to operational costs that should have gone to winnings.” NYRA filed for Chapter 11 protection in the same court in November (DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, 12/2).

    EQUAL FOOTING: A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial addressed competitive balance issues in European soccer under the subhead, “Salary caps are worth considering — if agreed by all.” The editorial: “When a few big clubs ... use their billions to buy every decent player going, much of the sport’s drama is lost. Salary caps are a way of trying to level the playing field and ensure the sport retains its interest. Even in free-market America salary caps in sport are common” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/2).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NASCAR
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