Billy Hunter endorses Paul Pierce, decertification push; players gather enough petition signatures to force vote
Paul Pierce indeed led the NBA players’ push for decertification, but he did it with the consent of players union chief Billy Hunter.
Despite being the Celtics’ player representative, Pierce was the only team rep not present at the mandatory union meeting yesterday. ESPN cited sources who said Pierce did not miss the meeting as a boycott.
Pierce’s decertification push has succeeded, or rather, it has advanced to the next step. Hunter said the league garnered enough petition signatures to force a decertification vote, which would take place 45-60 days after the players association officially files the decertification with the National Labor Relations Board — if, that is, the players decide to file the motion. The players are waiting on the results of Wednesday’s negotiations, when David Stern’s ultimatum looms like an approaching tornado. (CBS Sports)
“I think Paul is kind of frustrated with the process,” Hunter said after a news conference in which the players said they were rejecting the league’s latest take-it-or-leave-it proposal. “Paul has been at the bargaining table and he doesn’t feel that we’ve been making any kind of progress. And so he thought that maybe that’s necessary. We don’t have a lot of options and that’s the option Paul was pushing – still is pushing.”
Asked in a small group of reporters if he’s cool with that, Hunter said, “Of course. Listen, I’m cool with Paul and all these guys. I think it’s very important. I’m happy that Paul and the others are involved in the process. That’s always been the problem with athletes, that a lot of stuff is foisted on them and they have no input. Paul has been actively engaged, he understands, he’s been in five or six of our negotiating sessions, he talks to me, and when they had the (decertification) calls, he called and let me know that they were having the calls. And I said, ‘Hey, I’m not at all opposed to you doing that.’ … I endorse what Paul did.”
If nothing else, the players themselves have remained strong during the negotiations. David Stern has been pummeling them with haymakers and ultimatums. Reports have this hardline owner demanding one thing and that hardline owner demanding another. But the players themselves have remained strong. Other than JaVale McGee’s brain fart (vintage McGee), when he told reporters players were ready to fold, then subsequently denied the comments despite video evidence, and a few tweets or text messages here and there, most players seem banded together willing to follow Hunter and Derek Fisher’s lead.
Of course, the players BRI split request has dwindled to 50% down from last year’s 57%, owners haven’t made any concessions whatsoever relative to the prior CBA, and according to Ken Berger the players have already conceded more money ($330 million) for the coming year than the owners claim to have lost last season. So maybe I’m giving the players too much credit.
Wednesday’s negotiations (assuming the two sides meet) are likely to lead to a resolution, or a cloudy future of legal maneuvering and hardline stances. I vote the former, though I wouldn’t bet my (admittedly minuscule) life savings.