Fisher blames owners, calls out agents
By SPORTS NETWORK
|The president of the National Basketball Association players' association, Derek Fisher, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
PHILADELPHIA - Hours before a players meeting scheduled in Las Vegas, NBPA president Derek Fisher laid out his case today.
In a letter sent to every NBA player, and leaked to SI.com, Fisher was extremely honest and blunt with his constituents, pointing his finger at an in-fight between the league's owners as the main cause of the current labor woes while also imploring the players to stick together and ward off a possible decertification effort, a plan reportedly bubbling up among some of the NBA's more powerful agents.
Heck, Fisher was so honest he even started the letter by saying he knew it would be leaked, and leaked very quickly.
"After the latest round of meetings, I thought it would be best to update you personally as to where the leadership of the National Basketball Players Association stands, where the negotiations stand where we are headed and the reasons why," Fisher began.
"Without a doubt, someone will be leaking this. I know it. The moment you read this you will know it. So, I say all with the fullest transparency."
The veteran Lakers guard then explained what happened at the meeting between the owners and players earlier this week in New York, largely described as a disaster by most national media outlets.
"What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides," Fisher wrote. "The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners."
Fisher also flashed a little optimism by explaining that he hoped the owners could fix their own internal struggles at a meeting scheduled for Dallas on Thursday.
"It is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement, we as a smaller group deemed reasonable," Fisher continued.
Then the Lakers point guard took aim at the agents, some who owe their very livelihood to the big contracts that come along with an NBA deal.
"Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I'd like to address it," Fisher said. "I've read yesterday's stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me?
"Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I've answered their questions, I've been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I'm working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don't make a commission, I don't make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.
"It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives."
Finally, Fisher finished with a call for solidarity.
"So to each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this...I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15 year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much.
"I'm a teammate, I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a husband, I'm a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask each of you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive.