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NBA Players Threaten Decertification

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NEW YORK (CBSMiami.com) – If you were one of the thousands of Miami Heat fans who have been waiting patiently for the Big Three to once again rule the court; you had better hope Saturday’s scheduled NBA talks finally complete a new collective bargaining agreement.

Saturday’s session is likely going to be the last stand for all fans hoping for a 2011-2012 NBA season. The reason behind this is that players are becoming more and more infatuated with the possibility of decertifying the union and heading to court.

Make no mistake, once that final card is played by the players, the likelihood of any professional basketball being played is slim and none for the current NBA season.

SI.com’s Michael McCann laid out the scenario that would happen if the players actually decertified.

First, the union would decertify and at that point, the players are independent employees. At that point, a player, or a group of players, may sue the NBA over antitrust violations.

The players’ goal at that point would be mixed. Players said they want the old system, but would accept a 50/50 split with the owners on basketball-related income. But, without a union, there would be no rules on teams.

But, even if the union chose to decertify, their chances of winning in court would not be good.

The NBA filed suit in August seeking to black players from challenging the lockout on antitrust grounds. The NBA even went so far as to ask a judge to void all contracts if the NBPA decertifies.

Plus, the NBA players should realize that the deck is stacked against them in the courts. During the NFL lockout, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NFL could conduct an injunctive proof lockout under federal law.

If the NBA was able to void all of the player contracts, the league could start over with new rules and the players could lose billions of dollars.

Another complicating factor for the players is that as more and more games are lost, the owners become even more emboldened to ask for more and more givebacks from the players.

Owners claim that 22 out of 30 teams lost money last year by having a full NBA season. If that is in fact the case, then owners wouldn’t flinch at losing an entire season because the teams, theoretically, wouldn’t lose money this year.

Decertification is a dangerous card for the players to throw out at this point. It’s the last card the players have in the deck and if they go forward with it, the NBA season is likely lost.

Late word Friday night said the federal mediator George Cohen, who helped end the NFL lockout, will be joining Saturday’s negotiations.

If he leaves with no deal framework in place and both sides continuing to harden their stances, it’s likely Heat fans will be without the Big Three for at least a year.

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