There appears to be dissension within the ranks, on both sides of the bargaining table as the NBA Players Association and NBA Team Owners try to hammer out a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, and end the NBA Lockout which is now in its third month. NBA Players Association President Derek Fisher sent an e-mail to all players in the Association, concerning the work stoppage. A copy of the e-mail was acquired by “Sports Illustrated” and it has allowed the media as well as fans of the game to gain in-depth information of the perception that Fisher has of the negotiations.
According to the Los Angeles Lakers veteran point guard, there is a definitive rift among NBA team Owners, however Fisher also talks about NBA Agents who are calling for decertification of the NBA Players Association. Here is the entire e-mail as provided by the website:
To Each & Every Player,
After the latest round of meetings, I thought it would be best to update you personally as to where the leadership of the National Basketball Players Association stands, where the negotiations stand where we are headed and the reasons why.
Without a doubt, someone will be leaking this. I know it. The moment you read this you will know it. So, I say all with the fullest transparency.
I was elected as your President. By you. For you. I take great pride and am honored to serve the over 400 members of our association. I and our Executive Committee take this job and this role seriously and will not agree to an unfair deal on behalf of you and our players. Period.
I’m not looking out just for the marquee guy, I’m looking out for the guy that dreams of being a professional basketball player and gets a minimum deal. I’m not just trying to protect the guy on a team in a huge market. I’m protecting the player that is in a small market with incredibly loyal fans.
I’ve made it clear, I want to play. You have each made it clear, you want to play. The fans have been unwavering, they want their basketball. The thousand of employees that work in the arenas, the ticket offices, the concession stands, they want a season. We all want to go back to work.
The league and the team owners have locked us out. This was not our choice. Our employers decided to stop allowing us to do our jobs.
My job since July 1st is to find a solution. To find an outcome that protects each of you and your livelihoods and continues to allow us to play the game we love so much and the fans love supporting.
Since before the lockout began, I have spent hours upon hours, days, months, years, working on preparing you, the fans and the media about the possibilities. Now as the lockout has set in, reality of the situation is here.
The most recent meetings in New York were effective. What you have been told by your agents, representatives and the media is probably speculative and inaccurate.
What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides. The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners.
So it is our hope that today, Thursday, at the owners meeting in Dallas that they work out their differences, come up with a revenue sharing plan that will protect their teams and are then ready to come together and sign off on the agreement we as a smaller group deemed reasonable.
Decertification seems to be a hot button issue today in the media. So I’d like to address it. I’ve read yesterday’s stories and find the position of these agents interesting. I have made myself available to each and every agent. But not once have I heard from them. If they are so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me? Each and every one of them mentioned has been in meetings with me. I’ve answered their questions, I’ve been told they support you, their players and our Players Association. So if there is a genuine concern, a suggestion, a question, call me. Email me. Text me. I’m working tirelessly each and every day on behalf of the over 400 players that they represent. Working for nothing but the best interests of THEIR guys. I don’t make a commission, I don’t make a salary for serving as President. I have NO ulterior motives. None.
It is because they have not come to me once that I question their motives.
I work every day on these negotiations. I work so that each player from Blake Griffin to Tyler Hansbrough, Pau Gasol to De’Andre Jordan, Dwight Howard to Jrue Holiday, Taj Gibson to Danny Granger, Steve Nash to Luke Babbit and every single player get a fair and reasonable deal. Not just for this year, not just for next year but for years to come. So that the league that WE the players largely helped build, continues to grow and thrive.
So to address the agents that have decided to say their piece yesterday, I don’t mind. Perhaps they are trying to make news. Perhaps they just want to show you, their clients, they are working hard. But what would be appreciated by the 400+ players would be the support of our agents and constructive ideas, suggestions and solutions that are in our best interests. Not the push for a drastic move that leaves their players without a union, without pensions, without health care. We just aren’t there.
I will remain committed to finding resolution to this because I know how important this is. I ask you to remain united with me and your over 400 allies, friends, brothers and colleagues. We are a powerful group if we remain united and focused on the task at hand.
I urge every single one of you to call me, text me, email me with anything. An idea, a suggestion, a concern, a question. I represent you. I work for you.
So to each player, each fan, each agent, each media member who ends up reading this…I stand behind this message. It comes from me, a 15 year veteran of basketball, the game I dreamt of playing as a kid, the game I love so much. I’m a teammate, I’m a father, I’m a son, I’m a husband, I’m a brother, but right now, the role I must work so hard to honor is the one as PA President. And I ask each of you to stand with me, stand by me and urge the league and the owners to come together and allow the game of basketball to continue to grow and thrive. We’re ready.
“ESPN.com” has reported that Cleveland Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert and Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver, are the most prominent of the hard-line Team Owners. Neither were in the Association during the previous Lockout which took place in the 1998-1999 campaign. The website also reported that New York Knicks Owner James Dolan and Los Angeles Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, were not pleased with their colleagues points of view.
There also is division within the Players Association, as several prominent agents are in favor of decertification of the union, so that they can take the Association to court in an anti-trust case. Fisher and Players Association Director Billy Hunter, are not in favor of making that move at this time. Fisher was scheduled to meet with about 70 players in Las Vegas on Thursday and he had invited NFL Players Association Director DeMaurice Smith to talk to the players.