Reporting Tim Kephart
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NEW YORK (CBSMiami.com) – While the Miami Dolphins have taken the field in preparations for the upcoming season, the Miami Heat remain in a deep freeze as the NBA lockout is showing no signs of ending in the next few months.
The latest salvo came from the NBA and its owners who filed two legal claims against the NBA Players Association claiming the NBAPA was being uncooperative in negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement by threatening to dissolve the union and sue under anti-trust laws.
If this sounds familiar, it’s the exact same scenario that put the NFL out of business over the summer. The common denominator between the two legal strategies by NFL players and NBA players is lawyer Jeffrey Kessler.
Kessler has been named in the lawsuit for what the league said was an “impermissible pressure tactic.”
The NBAPA has considered decertification as a means to gain more favorable terms in a new CBA, but so far have resisted carrying out the plan.
The NBA’s action seeks a declaration that the lockout doesn’t violate anti-trust laws if the union decertifies, using the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
But the bigger part of the NBA’s court action is that it seeks to gain support for the biggest salary dump in the history of sports. The NBA asked the court to declare that if the union dissolves, it would void all existing player contracts, because they’re guided by the union’s involvement in the old CBA.
The NBA said without a union and collective bargaining relationship, the terms and conditions of those previously negotiated contracts would not apply.
The dispute breaks down to just how much money owners are losing each season. According to the NBA, owners lost $300 million in 2010 and hundreds of millions more in each year of the past CBA dating back to 2005.
NBA players acknowledged some losses, but dispute the depth of the losses claimed by the owners. Plus, the players are refusing the owner’s push for a hard salary cap, like the NFL has each season, and they refused to reduce salaries and maximum contract lengths.
Part of the problem the players are running into is that the NFL is the most profitable sport in the country and works every year with a hard salary cap and a hard salary floor. NBA players say the NFL CBA was a bad deal for the players, but NFL players continue to make millions each and every year.
The players also don’t want their piece of the revenue pie to be cut. The owners want to reset the value and cap how much players can earn in the labor deal, regardless of new revenue coming into the league from renegotiated television deals.
Once the season is closer, negotiations will get more intense as both sides seek to avoid missing games. But, the owners and players are much further apart in this CBA negotiation than the NFL owners and players ever were.
The Miami Heat will make their money because the Big Three sell out the arena in Miami and sell out every other arena they play in.
But, until both sides realize they could do serious damage to the game with a protracted lockout lasting into the season; no serious negotiations will take place.