SBD/November 22, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 145: Players Consolidate Antitrust Suits In Minneapolis

The NBA players "filed an amended antitrust case against the league Monday in federal court in Minneapolis, a legal step to consolidate a pair of antitrust suits they filed a week ago," according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. A group of players, including Knicks F Carmelo Anthony and Thunder F Kevin Durant, "filed an antitrust lawsuit in Northern California against the NBA" while a second group of players, led by Mavericks F Caron Butler, "filed a similar lawsuit in Minnesota." Players attorney David Boies said, "They were basically the same substantive complaint." Boies added filing a single lawsuit "should permit us to expedite the case." NBA Exec VP & General Counsel Rick Buchanan: "We assume that Mr. Boies was not happy with either the reassignment of the case from Oakland to San Francisco or the fact that the new judge scheduled the first conference for March 2012" (L.A. TIMES, 11/22). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes the lawsuits were merged "in the hope of bringing a swifter judgment against the league, and a swifter end to the lockout." The courts "would have eventually combined the complaints, because they were similar and sought the same remedy." Merging them now "removes one obstacle." Boies: "If we’d waited, it would have taken 6, 8, 12 weeks. This solves that issue now and allows us to move forward." Boies also said that the Minnesota court "provides two advantages over the Northern California courts." It generally has a "less congested docket, and it has a history of moving cases along swiftly." Antitrust cases "can sometimes take years to resolve," but Boies said that he "believed he could get a declaration of summary judgment much sooner, perhaps in three months." Beck notes there has been "no direct contact between the league and the players since Nov. 10" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/22). On Long Island, Alan Hahn reports U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Shultz has been "assigned to the case." The NBA "has until Dec. 5 to respond," and shortly afterward, a planning conference "will be scheduled" (NEWSDAY, 11/22). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt notes the "initial court date in California was set for March 9" (USA TODAY, 11/22).

PHONE IT IN: In N.Y., Marc Berman writes if the NBA players’ "antitrust lawsuit was designed to bring the league back to the bargaining table, it has not worked" (N.Y. POST, 11/22). Boies said that he "would have no problem initiating a phone call with league executives but he doesn't believe they are willing to discuss the lawsuit or a settlement." He said, "They've made pretty clear they have no interest in talking to us. … I thought this was a case we ought to try and resolve." Boies added, "That's a waste of time to make a telephone call. If we thought there were any possibility of people being reasonable on the other side and being open to negotiating this lawsuit, ending the boycott and start playing games, we would pursue that" (USA TODAY, 11/22). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger writes, "How many lawyers does it take to make a phone call?" Boies said, "I suppose it couldn't hurt for me to call" the league. He added, "Ask me that Wednesday" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/22). In Orlando, Josh Robbins wrote, "Years from now, people will study how the NBA's owners and players allowed their labor dispute to descend into catastrophe." They "might determine that this was, above all else, a failure to communicate" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 11/21).

FROM THE ICE: In Chicago, Chris Kuc notes NHL players "are keeping close tabs" on the NBA's labor situation. Blackhawks LW Andrew Brunette said, "It will be interesting to see what happens with the NBA." He added is likely will have "some sort of reflection on what happens" with the NHL's CBA talks. Blackhawks D and player rep John Scott said, "It just seems like they're bashing each other in the papers and it's going back and forth. It's a bad situation." But Blackhawks D Sean O'Donnell "doesn't see the need to agree on many issues that would favor the owners." He said, "I feel like they got the business model they wanted and through some of their own moves if they complain it's not working then I kind of think they have to take a look in the mirror a little bit." Blackhawks VP & GM Stan Bowman: "I don't think there will be an overhaul of the (NHL) system -- there will just be some changes here and there" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/22).

TWO-SPORT STARS? The subject of NBA players possibly joining NFL teams was discussed during the 4th quarter of last night's Chiefs-Patriots "MNF" game. ESPN’s Jon Gruden said, “There's a lot of good athletes out there available, Mike. Guys that could come in the NFL and help some of these players, some of these teams. How about Steve Nash? Let’s get him to the Houston Texans just in case Leinart isn’t ready to go. He could be a quarterback. I tell you what else: LeBron James, let’s send him to the Lions. Let him play opposite Calvin Johnson. You defend that. ... Blake Griffin, can you imagine Blake Griffin rushing the passer opposite of John Abraham? How about this Noah guy? He looks like a Raven, doesn’t he opposite of Terrell Suggs?” ESPN’s Ron Jaworski: “Man, you have too much time.” Gruden: “I got one more, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff. These NBA guys are not going to play, why waste all of this athletic ability? I’ll tell you what, how about my guy Dwight Howard, Superman? He can go to the Colts and play any position he wants, they need everything! There’s no way Dwight Howard is not going to play sports this year! Solve this lockout. If you don’t solve it, just come help out some of these teams! Can you imagine LeBron James covering Gronkowski? That’s what we need! Basketball guys, hey, come join the party! Help us out here. Hey, if you’re not going to play basketball, we got a game going here” (“Monday Night Football,” ESPN, 11/21).
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