SBD/May 23, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Billy Hunter Still Doubts NBA Can Avoid Lockout With CBA Expiration Looming

Hunter called NBA's last CBA proposal more repressive than the first
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter threw doubts on any optimism that the NBA could avoid a lockout when the CBA expires on June 30, saying the recent counter-proposal the league offered the players was worse than the previous proposal and one the players could not accept. “While the media portrays the negotiations to be very amicable, I think the impression is that there is movement occurring,” Hunter said in a speech before the Sports Lawyers Association on Saturday. “Let me go on the record and say there has not been any movement.” Hunter said that the players believed the first proposal from the NBA given to them in writing around the time of the ‘10 All-Star Game was “draconian” and “shocking.” Hunter said the owners presented the players with a new proposal three weeks ago. “Let me say for the record that the proposal that we got was a regressive proposal,” he said of the NBA’s recent proposal. “We thought the first proposal was bad and we got the second one, and it included even more demands that we considered to be more repressive than the original proposal.” Hunter noted that the players are willing to negotiate and want to make a deal before the expiration of the CBA. But he said that he would not do a bad deal for players. Hunter: “What I have promised is that I would not accept a bad deal and I would not do a bad deal. And if it means we have to be confronted with a lockout, then, you know, I am ready for a lockout.” He added, “Time to time, I have been quoted in the paper saying if our choice is to accept a deal that the NBA and the owners have presented to us or opt for the lockout, then I say give me the lockout.  Because I guess it is my belief is that the only way  … for us to have progress is we have to take the gloves off and feel the blows that are being thrown.” Hunter added that a lockout would be “devastating” and added that it took the league at least six years to recover from the ‘98-99 NBA lockout.

MEETINGS HAPPENING FREQUENTLY: NBA Exec VP and general counsel Rick Buchanan said league and union negotiators have been meeting frequently on collective bargaining and will continue to do so with about 40 days left until the NBA CBA expires. “The throttle is down,” Buchanan said Saturday at the same conference Hunter attended. “We are meeting frequently with the union, both in small groups and with our larger labor committees. We have every intention of trying to reach an agreement.” Buchanan said although NBA revenues are up, so are costs, and collectively NBA teams have suffered “substantial losses” over the last five years and will continue to do so without a new CBA. “What our goals are in collective bargaining is to develop a system that allows teams in the NBA an opportunity to make a profit and allows all 30 teams the chance to compete for a championship,” Buchanan said. “That’s what we want” (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

SAY IT ISN'T SO: In Detroit, Vincent Goodwill writes an "extended lockout would be catastrophic to the league's future." TV ratings are "up across the board for this postseason, matched only by its drama and unpredictability." The Lakers and Celtics, last year's NBA finalists, "are missed, but contrary to what some feel, new blood, along with ready and able challengers, are keeping everyone interested." Bulls G Derrick Rose and Thunder F Kevin Durant are the "new, fresh and likeable faces of the league." Goodwill: "A riveting finish is in store, but if a lockout occurs, all of the league's positive momentum will cease. And unlike their counterparts in the NFL, the NBA won't have the benefit of goodwill from the fans -- at least not as long of a leash they're giving the NFL" (, 5/21). T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor, Chair of the NBA BOG, said, "I would just tell you we're meeting with the union every week and I'm real positive. We've had nice, good meetings, but there's still a long way to go" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/23).
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