If you have ever watched a cowboy movie, most likely you have heard a character in that film say “Let’s head them off at the pass.” According to a report from “ESPN.com” that is basically what the NBA did to the NBA Players Association on Tuesday as they filed a lawsuit against the players and they filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the Players Association of unfair labor practice. These were pre-emptive moves, as the players union had been talking about filing similar claims for the past month as the NBA Lockout has now reached 31 days. The NBA is hoping that the court will rule that the Lockout does not violate anti-trust laws. There has been speculation that the players union would be dissolved in order to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the Association.
The two sides met for the first time since the work-stoppage went into effect on Monday; and both sides said there is still a huge gap between what the Team Owners want and what the players will accept in a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Association is claiming that many teams are losing money, despite published reports refuting those claims.
NBA players won a huge victory last week when FIBA stated that that they would be allowed to play for any professional team while the Lockout remains in effect. Many players will take advantage of that ruling and play in Europe or in Asia and so they will still be earning a salary while NBA arenas remain dark. Many players also have put aside money over the past few years at the behest of the players union in preparation for an extended work-stoppage.
Unless the NBA and Team Owners are willing to become more flexible in their negotiating, we may be looking at an extended work-stoppage. This Lockout could end up lasting as long if not longer than the work-stoppage during the 1998-1999 campaign which ended up wiping out almost half the regular season.