NBA players just committed a major blunder

NBA players union chief Billy Hunter, flanked by Derek Fisher (left) and other players, have no leverage. (AP photo)

Union chief Billy Hunter, flanked by Derek Fisher (left) and other players, has no leverage.

The NBA players can tell themselves that the owners created this mess. They would be right.

They can say it was the league’s owners who handed them the last collective bargaining agreement, the owners who gave them long and lucrative contracts, the owners who have done inexplicable things like give Joe Johnson a $119 million contract. And they would be right about all that, too.

But this was the bonehead move of all bonehead moves.

The NBA players decided Monday to reject the owners’ latest proposal for a new CBA. They plan to decertify the union and take the league to court for antitrust violations. This is what it looks like when an entire league of players commits suicide.

If the players are serious about all this, forget this season. At least.

Commissioner David Stern said Monday, “If I were a player, one of 450, I would wonder what it is [NBPA] Billy Hunter just did.”

Stern also referred to this as a “nuclear winter.”

Something tells me he has been practicing these soundbites for a while. My only hesitation in completely taking Stern’s side on this is, like the players, I don’t trust him, either.

But Stern and the owners really are holding all of the cards. The NBA is not the NFL in terms of stature or revenue streams. So it doesn’t really matter that the NBA owners are as wrong as the NFL owners were in their desire to change the rules of the game and take back what they’ve already given the players.

The NFL owners never were going to allow the cancellation of regular season games because there was too much money on the table. Everybody was winning, just not to the degree the NFL owners wanted to win.

That’s not the case in the NBA. The bottom line is  . . . well, the bottom line. If close to half the NBA’s owners aren’t scared about shutting down the league for a year because they were projected to lose money anyway, does the union really believe the owners are going to blink?

There also are too many markets — Atlanta being one — where the NBA is simply off the radar right now. It’s about college football and the NFL. Soon, it will be about baseball trades and then spring training.

I’m not saying nobody cares because many do — just not so many that a firestorm from the fanbase is going to prompt the two sides to go back to the negotiating table.

Like all owner-player battles, this is being driven by high-powered agents who don’t want to see their commissions go down and the top 10 percent of the salary list who can afford to miss paychecks. But at some point, the players in the league who don’t have long-term security will grumble.

The players will have to give in, and this will not have been worth it.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

239 comments Add your comment

German Shepherd Dawg

November 14th, 2011
3:34 pm

GeoffDawg

November 14th, 2011
3:39 pm

What’s an NBA?

bart

November 14th, 2011
3:44 pm

You said it best by stating that nobody really cares.

Chris

November 14th, 2011
3:45 pm

I look at the NBA lockout the same way I looked at the NHL lockout a few years ago… This will be the best NBA season ever!

TexasLeaguer

November 14th, 2011
3:47 pm

Yawn . . . one less union . . . one less sport . . . really doubt, in the 18 months that it will take to run it’s course, that these players will still be competitive with the new, younger, practiced . . . AND HUNGRY . . . fresh college recruits.

Actually . . . too funny!

rduck

November 14th, 2011
3:47 pm

they just did us a favor. maybe the baseball players will cause a lockout next… can only hope

go dawgs

November 14th, 2011
3:49 pm

who cares????????

NOTSO FAST

November 14th, 2011
3:52 pm

SO MANY PEOPLE JUST DON’T CARE IF THEY EVER PLAY BASKETBALL AGAIN. WE DID CARE ABOUT THE NFL.

Against Rape of NBA Players

November 14th, 2011
3:53 pm

Schultz makes no sense. If the NBA isn’t the NFL in terms of stature, then why would the OWNERS dissipate fan interest and destroy their fan bases with a unilateral lockout? Only if they can convince pinheads like Schultz to pin the blame on the players. Too many owners in mid- and small-market teams bought in to the league at too high a price; too many owners agreed to ridiculous contracts (Joe Johnson’s among them); and now they’re trying to rob the players to cover their own mistakes. Even if I agree that players are overpaid, that contracts are too long, that too few teams have a chance to contend for a championship (let alone be profitable); that there are too many sub-mediocre teams in markets that won’t/can’t suppor them–and I agree on all counts–the mistakes are those of the owners, signing unproductive players, one bad contract at a time, and over-expanding into weak markets. The owners are trying to RAPE the players–the players are just defending themselves. Only an NBA-underwritten shill like Schultz tries to depict the situation as the players’ fault. Let the owners bleed REAL losses awhile, and see how fast they come back to the negotiations with something reasonable.

Nonfan

November 14th, 2011
3:53 pm

I wouldn’t care if they never played again. Let the lower echelon players find jobs that will pay them as well as their NBA jobs. Maybe they can play in Uzbeki-Beki-Stan-Stan. I think Herman Cain owns a team there.

IL Jacket

November 14th, 2011
3:54 pm

Has there ever been a total lost season in professional sports? In 1995, baseball played up until August I believe. The NFL started with scrubs one season, but I think the regular players finished the year. I think the NHL is throwing a party somewhere right now.

honest_abe

November 14th, 2011
3:55 pm

only football is immune to negative public sentiment due to labor issues.

considering how bad the economoy is most people will tell nba players to just go overseas. could care less about this silly brand of basketball they play these days anyway. it’s glamourized rec ball.

the nba can go to hell.

skydawg

November 14th, 2011
3:56 pm

Enter your comments here

Chris

November 14th, 2011
4:02 pm

Yes, IL Jacket… the 2004-2005 NHL season was completely lost. The first time that had happened in American Pro Sports.

Steveo

November 14th, 2011
4:03 pm

I hope the rich, overpaid fools never play again….it’s not basketball anyway…..just a bunch of ball hogs “traveling” up and down the court….the NBA is joke….stands for Nothing But Aholes…..

Joy

November 14th, 2011
4:03 pm

Now, the NBA players will have time and can really see the value of being a part of the community of the city they play in and get a sense of what reality is like for the many real working people that make just above minimum wage to bring family to a game to get disappointed with unenthusiactic lack luster playing and funky attitudes. In the past, I am involved in several charitible organizations and we have invited numerous players to speak or be part of the event without ever getting a response. They expect fans to love them when we do not know them…all look like some street tatooed up baller from my local basketball park who I paid big money to see. These players have gotten so removed from their fans maybe the can now take some time to give back rather than expecting to receive all the time…. If there are teams not making money because venues are not selling out or merchandise being sold, those players as part of their job should be out recruiting their fan base and building a support base in their community.

The Real Renegade

November 14th, 2011
4:06 pm

The Braves won the World Series in 1995 idiot.

Frank Lane

November 14th, 2011
4:07 pm

could not care less. bunch of very tall, spoiled children.

BamaMan

November 14th, 2011
4:07 pm

Who cares. The world would be better off without an NBA anyways. As long as they don’t cancel the college season, it won’t be missed at all.

Delbert D.

November 14th, 2011
4:07 pm

Send them all to Europe. Don’t let them come back. Bankrupt the owners, while we’re at it.

Top Dawg

November 14th, 2011
4:10 pm

This is WONDERFUL. I truly hope the NBA never plays another game. Good riddance!!! :-)

Michael

November 14th, 2011
4:11 pm

Stern might as well go ahead and start negotiations with Versus for the NBA’s next NBA deal once they finally do come to a deal because dedicated NBA/Hawks fans like myself will continue to watch, but the casual fan will lose all interest in the sport. I was a casual NHL fan before they had a lockout, but since the NHL came back, I haven’t watched more than 5 minutes of any game.

Michael

November 14th, 2011
4:12 pm

*negotiate with Versus for the next TV deal I mean

Ron Mexico

November 14th, 2011
4:12 pm

I don’t know one person who has said “man, I really miss the NBA”. This is a non story because no one really cares

WitStream

November 14th, 2011
4:13 pm

Who cares? This merely clears the way for the XBA! Go to #XBA on Twitter for some good laughs.

#WitStream

Man In Blazer

November 14th, 2011
4:16 pm

Let’s use this opportunity to continue ramping up for soccer, America’s sport of the future since 1972. Bring MLS to the ATL!

Ron Mexico

November 14th, 2011
4:17 pm

Just let the players go. Owners can then go down to the local parks, grab a few guys with no shooting skills off the local court, then throw a uniform on them and call them the NBA. There will be little difference from the current product

Dawgfan79

November 14th, 2011
4:18 pm

Your right on this one, Jeff. Not enough people care about the NBA.

They play college basketball 7 days a week for the die hard basketball fans.

Its not like the NFL where Sunday is blocked off just for the NFL.

Carmelo Anthony

November 14th, 2011
4:18 pm

With no paycheck, how am I gonna pay for all my new neck tattoo’s?

extremus

November 14th, 2011
4:20 pm

I hope the NBA DIES for the sake of pro sports as a whole, and the sooner the better. The writing has been on the wall for a long time with players in all three major pro sports (I’m not going to consider hockey a “major sport” anymore as its decline outside certain markets has been evident). Ever-increasing guaranteed contract demands based on some ridiculous notion of “market value” (translation: he got paid that much so I should get THIS much), and agents like Scott Boras have really contributed to that.

The simple fact is, professional sports and its players have tried to act like their own economy exists in a bubble outside the one where many Americans are struggling to pay rent or buy groceries, or are out of work altogether. It’s an unsustainable business model when a family can no longer afford to attend an average pro game but you see luxury suites and boxes for the rich and powerful everywhere; it’s plain to see that our national pastimes have come to embrace other values. And yet they can’t see why so many franchises are losing money; go figure.

I frankly don’t CARE that the owners are multi-billionaires or mega-corporations who have money to burn on “hobbies” like owning a team; when you’re already making 6, 7, or 8 figures every year and you complain that you should get a bigger share of league revenue that sounds ungrateful and hedonistic in the worst possible way. The fact that some players have actually likened the owners or commissioners to slave owners is laughable and at the same time sickening; time for a REALITY CHECK. Go back to a service industry job where say, after 10-plus years of service you get let go whenever the company feels they can get someone to do your job cheaper and without paying benefits like has happened to so many everyday Americans the past few years, and THEN try your “Cry Me a River” Occupy Wall Street routine.

The NBA has made other huge mistakes that have eroded its attractiveness to many fans. One of the most obvious is a heavy rap and hip-hop culture and a chest-thumping atmosphere of individual arrogance and hubris that makes even the NFL pale in comparison. It may appeal to the young black demographic and to the rap stars and celebrities who sit at courtside, but for me and many others who grew up with Russell, Doctor J, Dominique, MJ, Bird, and Magic, the game has lost its once much more universal appeal. The final straw for me was last year’s hour-long ESPN vehicle for Lebron James’ enormous ego; I haven’t watched an NBA game since and don’t plan to if they do play again.

Now the commissioner and owners are talking about eliminating teams…the precursor to a league-wide implosion. I hope that MLB and the NFL are watching this unfold and taking notes; I really do, because the exact same thing could happen in a year or two when baseball’s labor negotiations begin. The death of the NBA would go a long way toward restoring some common sense and more responsible priorities throughout the rest of pro sports. And that’s worth rooting for.

Ron Mexico

November 14th, 2011
4:20 pm

To all NBA players: “Don’t go away mad; just go away”

extremus

November 14th, 2011
4:21 pm

My last comment got “filtered”, Mr. Schultz.

WitStream

November 14th, 2011
4:22 pm

As an aside, I find it impossible to believe the people in that photo are doing something stupid. I blame the media!

Red-N-Black

November 14th, 2011
4:23 pm

Ah yes, I want more millions LOLOLOLOL. Don’t have to worry about a lame Basketball game interupting my TV waiting for Football season to roll around. Have fun making ends meet like normal folk. Amen and God Bless.

GTT

November 14th, 2011
4:24 pm

How does this affect the WNBA?

oldfart

November 14th, 2011
4:25 pm

But what are the 20 year old’s that never went to class going to do? Does Uzbekistan allow you to declare early for the draft?

cory dillinger

November 14th, 2011
4:25 pm

You ever notice that most people who say they could care less about the NBA always seem to rush to a blog about it. If you don’t like it then don’t talk about it.

Handy Manny

November 14th, 2011
4:27 pm

This is great !!!!! I hope these guys are working at Burger King in a few months. No one cares about the NBA anymore ….Period. Half the teams can’t even compete.I hope the whole league goes to HELL !!!!! They can go find a job and make 35,000 dollars like the rest of the us !!!!!!

HAHA

November 14th, 2011
4:27 pm

Just walk baby!!! No one cares about NBA Hoops!

cory dillinger

November 14th, 2011
4:28 pm

I like the Hawks and root for our local fanchise and it sucks we probably won’t have a season. I hope both sides understand how much damage they are doing to the brand and may just cause so much harm that it may never be repaired.

Ron Mexico

November 14th, 2011
4:29 pm

Labron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmello Anthony, etc have a (maybe) high school education, made no attempt at college, and negioate against owners who have made all their money by making smart decisions and building businesses? I wonder who will come out on the winning end of this one????

Bye

November 14th, 2011
4:29 pm

Look instead for a proliferation of rap albums in the coming months.

WitStream

November 14th, 2011
4:31 pm

Not thatexactly he actually caressomewhat about anything, but if all this makes Joe Johnson kill himself do the Hawks still have to honor his contract?

Queen James

November 14th, 2011
4:33 pm

NBA Players: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. No one cares. I can’t wait until I go out to eat and have an ex-NBA player valet my car.

Handy Manny

November 14th, 2011
4:34 pm

Ron Mexico , when can I buy you a beer !!!!!!!

LeBron James

November 14th, 2011
4:35 pm

The lockout is costing people their jobs. I already had to fire my tattoo artists, one of my barbers, and several other members of my posse. At this rate I’ll be down to only 75 in my crew by the end of the year. I guess I’ll just make a rap album

g

November 14th, 2011
4:35 pm

Enter your comments here

Ron Mexico

November 14th, 2011
4:36 pm

Ron Mexico , when can I buy you a beer !!!!!!!

Manny, I’ll be checked in at the W downtown under the name “Mike Vick”. We can meet up and then head to Majik City or Tattletales

Whatashow

November 14th, 2011
4:37 pm

@IL Jacket yes the was in fact. In the NHL during the last CBA.

This is so absurd. A cap system is required if you want a league with more than 5 competitive teams in it. If you aren’t a powerhouse spending team, good luck getting that championship because the grass will always be greener. Sure, you might not be playing in Miami or LA, but 2+ million to be a rotation player? Where do I sign? I obviously have some kind of financial disconnect with the players.

The owners can wait and collect the non basketball revenues from concerts and events to fund their legal battle, and the players will have to tough it out for a year or more in Europe or maybe in some weird trampoline Slam Ball league.

gspot

November 14th, 2011
4:38 pm

Have you noticed that Howard and James and others are playing celebrity games – the players have a hard time dealing with “not being the center of attention” and therefore have these worthless games just to get in front of a crowd.