The threat is now a reality.
NBA players filed multiple antitrust suits Tuesday, contending the owner’s ongoing lockout is illegal. Players will seek a summary judgment and treble damages (triple their lost wages), which could amount to $2.4 billion.
“There’s one reason and one reason only that the season is in jeopardy,” the player’s lead attorney, David Boies, told reporters at the Harlem headquarters of the former player’s union. “And that is because the owners have locked out the players and have maintained that lockout for several months.”
Players contend owners’ demands are greedy and dangerous, including a “massive reduction in compensation” and “severe system changes that would destroy competition for players.”
Their major contention is that system issue restrictions will eliminate competition for players’ services and violate antitrust law.
“If you’re in a poker game and you run a bluff and the bluff works, you’re a hero,” Boies said. “If somebody calls your bluff, you lose. I think the owners overplayed their hand.”
It will be up to the court system to decide if Boies and the players made the right call.
One case has been filed in California, naming Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant among the plaintiffs. A second was filed in Minnesota bearing the names of Caron Butler and Ben Gordon, among others.
Each court location is viewed as player-friendly territory.
These are just the first of many suits that could be filed. We may see separate filings by the faction of players still looking to decertify, and another by rookies who aren’t under contract.
The NBA released the following statement in response to the players’ actions:
“We haven’t seen Mr. Boies’ complaint yet, but it’s a shame that the players have chosen to litigate instead of negotiate. They warned us from the early days of these negotiations that they would sue us if we didn’t satisfy them at the bargaining table, and they appear to have followed through on their threats.”
But the players didn’t choose to end negotiating. David Stern did when he threatened a retracted offer if the owner’s final 50-50 BRI offer wasn’t accepted.
“We made our revised proposal and we’re not planning on making another one,” Stern said last week. “There’s really nothing left to negotiate about.”
The NBA had prepared for litigation by players months ago when the league filed a preemptive lawsuit in New York saying the potential dissolution of the union would be a “sham” and nothing more than a negotiating tactic.
The collection of lawsuits will eventually be combined and the location for a joint court resolution decided. A process that could take months, and something Boies hopes never happens.
“I hope it is not necessary to litigate this all the way,” Boies said. “I hope at some point the NBA and the teams will have enough concern for basketball fans that they will resolve these issues and allow players to start playing.”
A resolution can still be reached at any point. If lawyers reach a compromise, the settlement could take the form of a collective bargaining agreement. A majority of players would then have to agree to reform the union and be recognised by owners.
Will it happen? It will have to if there is to be any basketball this season.
The sides are too close for it not too happen. It just makes too much sense. Then again, sanity left the building a long time ago.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.