NBA LABOR PAINS: TWO TRAINS SPEEDING DOWN ONE TRACK
The NBPA "has reached an agreement with the league on a new
collective bargaining agreement, but it could fall apart because
of strife with the players' union," according to this morning's
ORLANDO SENTINEL. Agent Lee Fentress said that player reps will
discuss the deal by conference call today, but that a vote Friday
in Chicago was doubtful (Susan Slusser, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/21).
While also quoting Fentress on the "purported deal," the
WASHINGTON POST's Mark Asher reports, "An agent-inspired effort
by some of the game's marquee players to remove the union as its
collective bargaining representative because of the union
leadership's alleged secrecy in recent negotiations appeared to
be gaining momentum." Agent Marc Fleisher claimed to have 61
signed decertification notices from NBA players (WASHINGTON POST,
6/21). The BOSTON GLOBE puts the number of signed notices at
over 100 (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21). NO DEAL,
NO HOW, NO WAY: Both NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine and NBA
Commissioner David Stern denied that any deal had been cut.
Gourdine: "Absolutely, unequivocally, categorically, we do not
have a deal. ... We think it's another attempt at
misinformation." Stern: "Anyone who says there's a done deal is
badly misinformed." While Stern said that the NBPA's internal
problems have not affected the negotiations, Murray Chass of the
N.Y. TIMES cites one management attorney who acknowledged there
is some concern among league officials that Gourdine might not
have the "authority to make a deal" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/21).
AGENTS-EYE VIEW: Marc Fleisher, on the alleged deal:
"This perhaps is the most significant step backward on the
NBA labor front in 20 years" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/21).
Fentress: "If the agreement is close to what has been
leaked, it ought to be rejected, in my view. And the only
way to proceed from there is to decertify the Players
Association" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/21). David Falk: "The
players ultimately have to control their own destiny. This
is their careers, we work for the players as does the union,
and the players are clearly exercising the plebiscite to the
union to tell them that if you don't supply us with the
information we need, then we are going to have to make
changes" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/20).
GOURDINE'S RESPONSE: Gourdine, on with ESPN Radio's
"Fabulous Sports Babe" yesterday: "If we make a deal, every
single player in the NBA will have in front of him the exact
same information that the player rep who is responsible for
making the vote will have. So there will be an opportunity
to communicate to the player rep, and of course, directly to
me every players' feelings, and then we'll have the vote.
... Part of the objective I think by the agents, is to slow
down the deal and to put it in jeopardy" (ESPN Radio, 6/20).
Gourdine, who hopes to have a new CBA in place by the end of
the week: "Because I have been involved in intense
negotiations, I haven't been able to respond to the comments
of a group of agents who don't seem to want to accept the
difference between an advisory and a decision-making role"
(Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21).
MEDIA ROUND-UP: In Detroit, header over the FREE PRESS
piece: "NBA accord is fragile" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/21).
In L.A., a wire piece notes that any agreement "could be
scuttled by strife within the union" (L.A. TIMES, 6/21).
USA TODAY header: "Revolt against NBA players union grows."
The paper also has an extensive Q&A on the issues involved
(Boeck & Nance, USA TODAY, 6/21). In Phoenix, Suns Player
Rep Joe Kleine defends the union's stance: "People are
making judgments based on rumors. They're in disagreement
with an agreement that nobody has agreed upon. ... I don't
think you can have 200 agents involved. That would be
chaotic" (Bob Young, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/21). Kleine told
the BOSTON GLOBE: "I agree with the agents. We need to be
kept informed. But to decertify the union over an agreement
that isn't even an agreement yet doesn't make sense. ... It
seems like Simon is trying to rush things, and that's where
the problem lies" (Jackie MacMullan, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21).