NBA LABOR PAINS II: THE WAR OF WORDS
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,
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).