NBA players have made their power play.
Two antitrust lawsuits were filed in U.S. courtrooms Monday. One, in Oakland, names Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant among the plaintiffs.
The suit alleges that the league’s lockout is an “illegal agreement and conspiracy” that eliminates “competition among themselves for NBA players through group boycotts, concerted refusals to deal, and agreements on restricting output and fixing prices.”
Now, it’s the owners’ turn to respond. They will reconvene Thursday on a David Stern-led conference call to discuss their next move.
We can all hope owners come to their senses, understand that they may have “overplayed their hands,” and decide a few system issue concessions are worth saving a season.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
Stubborn owners aren’t about to let the player’s “win” – not yet, at least – and return to the negotiating table. Not with hardline owners believing Stern’s 50-50 BRI offer already conceded too much.
It’s even possible that owners would retaliate with further litigation.
A trial date for Anthony vs. the NBA has been sent for a Feb. 29, 2012, but the case could be expedited.
If a settlement between owners and the trade association’s lawyers – led by David Boies and Jeffrey Kessler – isn’t hatched before the case goes to trial, a 2011-12 NBA season would almost assuredly be eliminated.
“Nobody can tell you how long it’s going to take,” said Boies. “We all know it’s possible to delay lawsuits for a while, but I think it is in everybody’s interest to resolve this promptly.”
Nobody disagrees. Except, maybe, the players and the owners.
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