AGENTS CLAIM THEY HAVE THE VOTES TO DECERTIFY
Members of the NBPA's Agents Advisory Committee "said las
night they were on the verge of having the necessary signatures
to officially decertify the players' union," according to Jackie
MacMullan in this morning's BOSTON GLOBE. Agent Arn Tellem:
"We're knocking on heaven's door. We're real close." According
to Tellem, one vote over 50% of the total union membership would
decertify the NBPA. The union officially has 324 members, but
with the injured list that number could be as much as 350.
Tellem: "Either way, I think we've got it." League owners meet
in New York this morning to put the new CBA to a vote, while the
27 player reps meet in Chicago to do the same. Sources in the
league office also said that if the new agreement is voted down
by the players, "owners will likely lock out the players by July
1," when the moratorium expires (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/23). WILD
WEEKEND: In Philadelphia, Frank Lawlor writes, "Simply put, the
league could have a ratified contract, a revolt, or both on its
hands by sundown." Agent Keith Glass: "It's going to be one of
the more interesting days in the history of the league. It's
just the wildest thing I've ever seen, and I've been doing this
for 14 years" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/23). In New York, Murray
Chass writes the NBA "has plunged into a struggle that is
destined to sully its pristine image. The conflict is
unprecedented in sports labor history" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/23).
MORE FUEL FOR THE FIRE: In Washington, Mark Asher
cites "sources close to the disgruntled players" and reports
that they may file an unfair labor practices charge against
the NBPA over "possible irregularities" with player reps.
The sources said at least two player reps who signed
decertification notices -- the Mavs' Popeye Jones and the
Clippers' Pooh Richardson -- were excluded from a Wednesday
conference call "and may be replaced for today's vote." Stu
Ginsburg, spokesperson for the NBPA, denied that any player
reps were excluded "on purpose" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/23).
FROM THE UNION: NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine: "The
idea that this course of action of 'We think we don't like
this deal so let's close and lock the doors of the union,'
it seems to me to be somewhat of an extreme kind of pursuit"
("Sports Tonight," CNN, 6/22). Gourdine, on the luxury tax:
"In negotiations, you have to give up some things" (N.Y.
NEWSDAY, 6/23). NBPA President Buck Williams: "We felt
this was the best deal we were able to obtain. It's a
little more restrictive, but in terms of sheer dollars, it's
progress" (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 6/23). Williams to
the OREGONIAN: "If the players allow the agents to
decertify the union, I think it's a sad day in sports. The
agents work for the players. The players don't work for the
agents" (Kerry Eggers, Portland OREGONIAN, 6/23).
FROM THE LEAGUE: NBA Commissioner David Stern "said
just as some players feel uncomfortable with the deal, some
owners aren't entirely happy either." Stern: "This is a
very expensive deal and it puts the greatest amount of
pressure on the small-grossing clubs" (Mark Asher,
WASHINGTON POST, 6/23). Stern addressed decertification in
the N.Y. TIMES: "Obviously, I don't quite understand all of
the ramifications other than we ultimately need somebody to
negotiate with" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 6/23).