The NBA Players Association rejected the owners’ latest offer and have launched the process to disband their union, throwing the entire 2011-2012 pro basketball season into jeopardy.
“The players feel they’re not prepared to accept any ultimatum,” said Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players union.
He called the offer “extremely unfair” on the part of the NBA management.
Players had had the option of accepting the offer, which proposed a shortened 72-game schedule beginning December 15, or take it to a vote and turn it down altogether.
NBA commissioner David Stern had previously warned if the current offer is rejected, the owners would come back with an even harsher one.
“We’re not going to cancel the season this week,” Stern said.
“We’re just going to present to them what we told them we would.”
But in order for the NBA to have a 72-game season, Stern admitted the two sides would likely have to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement within the next week.
A key sticking point remains the division of some $3.92b in annual revenue.
Players received 57 per cent of basketball-related income under their previous contract, but have said they would be willing to drop that to 52.5 per cent.
Stern had said if the latest offer was rejected and there was another bargaining meeting, it would be based on a 53-47 split of revenues in the owners’ favor, a flexible salary cap with a hard ceiling and salary rollbacks.
Players’ representatives said they were prepared to dissolve the union and file an antitrust lawsuit against the league over the lockout, which has lasted for more than four months.
Stern, saying he was saddened and “terribly disappointed,” made it clear the outlook for the season was not good.
“Frankly, by what I would say is an irresponsible action at this late date, Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous payday,” Stern said.
The league has already wiped out all of the games scheduled in November – a month’s worth of action in a campaign that was to have started November 1.
by Buford Balony