Players taking NBA to court

Lakers player Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, is meeting with fellow players in...

Lakers player Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, is meeting with fellow players in New York to debate the latest offer from the NBA. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

TORONTO - Barring a last-minute miracle, the 2011-12 NBA season isnt happening.

The NBA Players Association didnt just turn down the NBAs latest offer, it decided that the deal was so bad and that negotiations had taken so poor a turn, that the next step was to disband the union and take the league to court.

Commissioner David Stern had said that if the players failed to accept the offer on the table since late Thursday, a far more restrictive proposal would replace it.

Refusing to buckle, the players foolishly opted to do what they should have done months ago when they saw how far apart the two sides were.

Weve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down, said Billy Hunter, formerly the executive director of the NBPA and soon to be the executive director of the National Basketball Trade Association.

Weve negotiated in good faith for over two years ... the players just felt that theyve given enough it was a system under which we felt we couldnt function.

The former NBPA plans to sue the NBA for anti-trust violations within the next few days, which gives the league one final chance to table an amenable counter.

Based on everything weve seen so far the odds of that happening are slim to none.

Stern called the move an irresponsible action and added: Its really a tragedy.

The anti-trust process helped bring about a deal to end the NFL lockout, but that was largely because there was a lot of time to get both sides to settle before matters went to court.

The time for the former NBPA to make this move was months ago. Now, its likely too late for saner heads to prevail in time to resurrect the season since decertification will take too long.

Many pushed for the players to go that route back in July given how stringent the demands of the owners were and Stern even agreed.

This is a negotiating tactic. Its not going to work, Stern said.

They should have done it a long time ago Its just a a big charade and its irresponsible, given the timing of it.

Longtime NHL star Bill Guerin warned the NBPA earlier this month that sacrificing a season in order to get a new CBA was the wrong move.

As silly as choosing this path so late was, equally ludicrous was the behaviour of the owners.

Their unyielding attempts to back the players into a corner by taking and taking some more, even after many concessions were made, left the players with a tough choice: Back down which isnt in their ultra-competitive natures but still, a move most expected with paycheques slated to arrive on Tuesday or lose a ton of money by sticking up for themselves, with no guarantees that a better offer will arise down the line.

We understand the consequences of potentially missing the season; we understand the consequences that players could potentially face if things dont go our way, but its a risk worth taking, said union vice-president Maurice Evans.

Its the right move to do.

Thats highly debatable.

This could have been avoided, but instead of giving some ground to appease the players after already having won a convincing victory, the owners barely budged.

The owners surely will get what they want sometime next year, but will it have been worth it?

The momentum of a stirring 2010-11 campaign has been lost and fan apathy and anger will arise in its place.

In Toronto, attendance has been declining and the team is coming off a 20-win season. Ownership will give season ticket holders hefty interest on the money they have paid, but will they return in 2012-13?

Everyone will likely have many months to ponder that question.

Sigh.


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