Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – NBA players bent over backwards to try and help the owners strike a new collective bargaining agreement, but it was never enough. Now, the players are in a different court to improve their position.
Locked-out players, including New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant filed antitrust lawsuits against the NBA late Tuesday in Minnesota and California.
Attorney David Boies said the blame for the litigation is solely on the owners.
“I think they caused this,” Boies said of the owners. “You don’t give up hundreds of millions of dollars unless you want to make a deal and that’s what the players were doing.”
The players are out for blood in the antitrust suits as well. The players are seeking “treble damages” or triple the amount of money they would have made in a full 2011-2012 season.
The treble damages would come from the players’ argument that the lockout is causing irreparable harm to them by preventing them from playing.
If the players were successful in winning treble damages, which could take years to sort out in the court system, they would receive more than $6 billion for the lost 2011-2012 season alone.
The suits were filed in Minnesota and California because both districts are likely more favorable to the players’ arguments. The NFL Players Association had favorable decisions for decades in the Minnesota courts, while the California lawsuit would be under the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the most liberal.
The California lawsuit stated that in 2007, NBA Commissioner David Stern met with union negotiators and demanded the players reduce their revenue share from 57 percent to no more than 50 percent and would have to accept a more restrictive salary cap.
According to the suit, Stern said at the 2007 meeting that the owners were prepared to lock the players out for two years to get everything the owners wanted.
Since the lockout went in place on July 1, a total of 324 games or roughly 26 percent of the season have been lost. The NFL’s lockout cost the league just one preseason game in 2011.
Previous lockouts by the NBA have shortened seasons to 50 games. The most notorious lockout in recent sports history is from the NHL in 2004-2005 when the league cancelled an entire season. Eventually the NHL owners won and implemented the changes they wanted.
Only time will tell if the same fate will fall on the NBA players, or if there will still be some hope for workers who fight employers for fair wages.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)