Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:20 pm
A procedural but interesting wrinkle in the players' antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota emergered Thursday. In addition to filing the complaint in district court, the plaintiffs' attorneys served papers via first-class mail on all 30 NBA general managers, according to court documents in the case.
The certificate of service was amended in the court records Thursday to add the Miami Heat. When the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, the Heat were left off the list of team general managers served with the complaint. For unknown reasons, the attorneys served the papers on Heat executive and salary cap expert Andy Ellisburg, rather than team president and Hall of Famer Pat Riley.
Also, the Knicks' copy of the lawsuit may get lost in the mail. It was sent to Donnie Walsh, who is no longer the Knicks' team president.
Sending the complaint to team general managers does not mean they're liable in the lawsuit. It's simply a procedural step, and also one of many ways that attorneys can and do annoy defendants in civil lawsuits. It is not known if the same procedure was followed in the separate antitrust lawsuit filed in California Tuesday because the government's online database had not finished loading for that case.
In other developments Thursday, commissioner David Stern updated the full Board of Governors via conference call on the state of the collapsed collective bargaining talks and the litigation. In addition to the antitrust lawsuits filed against the NBA in California and Minnesota, the league has a pending case in the Southern District of New York in which it is asking a federal judge to rule that the lockout cannot come under antitrust attack by virtue of the players dissolving the National Basketball Players Association.
Stern explained the meaning of the two antitrust lawsuits, but it is likely that a strategy session discussing how to proceed won't happen until owners on the labor relations committee meet or have a call themselves, according to two people familiar with the league's procedures.
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:54 pm
MIAMI – With the Dallas Mavericks on the verge of an improbable championship in a closeout game on the road against the Heat on Sunday night, the worst part of the equation for them was delivered with those last three words.
“Against the Heat.”
Because no matter how compelling the angle of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd finally getting their rings, no matter the possibility of Dallas’ comeback-strewn, destiny-filled postseason run culminating with a title, and regardless of Mavs owner Mark Cuban spontaneously bursting into flames during the trophy presentation, there’s only one angle capable of trumping all of that.
The Heat. The Heat losing. The Heat failing.
That’s what this is about. That’s what this NBA season has been about since LeBron James crudely announced to a national TV audience that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami. It has been about the Heat – either the beginning of a hastily assembled, store-bought dynasty or the possibility of utter, spectacular failure.
So the prospect of the Mavs clinching the title in Game 6 Sunday night and Nowitzki winning Finals MVP, thus establishing himself as 1(b) to Kobe Bryant’s 1(a) among clutch performers of their generation? The impressive fortress of double-digit comebacks the Mavs have relentlessly constructed during this postseason run? The idea of Cuban, who has been fined at least $1.6 million since buying the Mavs in 2000, celebrating a championship? This year, and only this year, all of it shrinks in comparison to the Heat not winning.
That’s right, not even Cuban – who was famously fined $500,000 in 2002 for saying the NBA’s director of officials, Ed Rush, wasn’t fit to work at a Dairy Queen, and $250,000 for repeated misconduct after the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals and lost to the Heat in six games – will be able to steal the spotlight from LeBron and Dwyane Wade failing to make good on their championship covenant.
Not even the culmination of a riveting, remarkable postseason run for the Mavs – in which they’ve come back from a 16-point deficit on the road against the Lakers and 15-point holes at Oklahoma City and Miami in consecutive rounds – would shield the nation from its obsession with the Heat. Not even Dallas’ unblemished record in postseason closeout games – 3-0 during these playoffs, a six-game winning streak overall – would stop folks from Northeast Ohio to North Carolina to Northern California from standing at the water cooler (or the modern-day version of it, Twitter) and saying, “Do you believe it?!?!? LeBron lost!”
So what’s going to happen? What’s my prediction? Same as it was before the series started: Mavs in seven. So if I’m right, the only force of nature that can delay the conflicting analysis of one team’s accomplishment viewed through the prism of another’s failure is – appropriately enough – the Heat themselves.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 10:15 pm
MIAMI – NBA owners and players will meet Wednesday for a “full-blown bargaining session” in the hopes of gaining momentum toward a new collective bargaining agreement before a lockout is imposed July 1, commissioner David Stern said Tuesday night.
In his annual pre-Finals media address, Stern said it will be a “challenge” for both sides to move off their current positions in time to avert a work stoppage, the threat of which already has begun damaging the business.
“The question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the tack that it is on now, which is straight up,” Stern said.
Two bargaining sessions already had been scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas during the Finals, but Wednesday’s session in Miami was added after the National Basketball Players Association introduced what Stern described after his media address as a new “concept” last week. Stern described the status of negotiations as a “give and take,” and said the players haven’t submitted a formal counterproposal to the owners’ revised proposal, which was handed over in April.
"We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach," Stern said.
Stern said the players’ new proposed concept addressed one of the key issues the owners are trying to resolve in their efforts to vastly change the financial landscape of the sport in favor of the owners. Asked after his media address if the players’ new concept moved the negotiating needle, Stern said, “We have a deal that nothing moves the needle until the moved the needle is moved. We have no agreement on anything until there’s agreement on everything.”
During a Q&A with assembled media before Game 1 between the Heat and Mavericks, Stern declined to offer a percentage chance of a lengthy lockout. He also was asked to compare his feelings on that topic to how he felt during All-Star weekend in February.
“I can’t answer that,” Stern said. “I don’t even want to make guesses, because I know that both sides will make their best offers before the lockout – because if they don’t, then there’s going to be a lockout that would be destructive to our business from the owners’ perspective and the players’ perspective.”
Progress made last week in a small negotiation session in New York was “encouraging enough that we think tomorrow is time well spent and we think the two days next week will be well spent," Stern said.
Asked after his media address why he’s so confident a worse deal would be struck after July 1, Stern said, “Because the damage gets to be intense from our perspective. We know the deal can get worse.”
Asked for whom it would become worse, Stern said, “For the players. And to us, the deal will get worse for the owners. So we’ve got to decide to focus fully on how bad it will be after July 1. So June 30 is a really important date.”
Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver were asked several times about whether a new CBA would require a team like Miami – with three stars on the books for $46 million next season – to be broken up. The owners have proposed a $45 million hard cap to replace the current soft-cap/luxury tax system. Their revised proposal offered to phase in those changes over a two-year period, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com. But the union viewed that offer as not much of an offer, since such drastic changes would have to be phased in by definition without across-the-board salary cuts, which the players will never accept.
Pressed on the issue of what happens to the Heat in a new CBA, Stern said after his address, “That hasn’t really been addressed. But I would expect (the team) to be together. I hope so.”
But at one point, Silver made a comment that is expected to rankle the Heat stars and other top-tier players in an attempt to explain the economics of why owners believe the current system is broken.
“Costs have risen much faster than revenues over the course of this deal,” Silver said. “… At the same time, non-player costs are growing at a much higher percentage, and the built-in increases of our contracts are much higher than inflation and the growth of our business. For example, the three key players on the Heat all have 10.5 percent per year increases built into their deals for next year, at a point when revenues in our business are growing somewhere around 3 percent. It’s a broken system.”
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get wind of that comment, they could become as emboldened about fighting the owners as they were at All-Star weekend in Dallas in 2010. At that time, 10 All-Stars – including James and Wade – attended a bargaining session and were incensed that an NBA team executive had made derisive comments about them in telling CBSSports.com that owners had the upper hand in the negotiations.
“If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” the team executive said at the time.“Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.”
In decrying the collectively bargained contracts Miami’s Big Three signed, Silver was taking aim at the team – and the three players – who were most responsible for the NBA’s astronomical increases in TV ratings and worldwide fan interest that is culminating with the Finals that tipped off Tuesday night.
The countdown to a real and important deadline to keep that momentum going is very much under way.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 9:48 pm
MIAMI -- In addressing the media 45 minutes before tipoff of LeBron James' first NBA Finals game with the Heat Tuesday night, commissioner David Stern is prepared for an abundance of labor questions and also, an inquiry that has particular relevance to this series: What happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers' plans to investigate possible tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with Miami?
There isn't much to address yet, according to a person with detailed knowledge of league operations who told CBSSports.com that no formal complaint has been filed.
"The answer is no," the person said.
In his annual pre-Finals media address Tuesday night, Stern said he has not received any correspondence from the Cavs or their legal representatives. Asked after his Q&A with reporters before Game 1 if he considers the matter closed, Stern said, "It was never open."
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declined to comment Tuesday night on his team's ongoing legal probe.
In December, Yahoo! Sports reported that Gilbert had hired a law firm to build a possible tampering case against Miami, which signed James and Chris Bosh as free agents to pair with Dwyane Wade last July. The fruits of LeBron's decision are on full display, with the Heat advancing to the Finals against the Mavericks after running through the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls.
At the time, Gilbert was incensed by meetings that involved high-level representatives of James and Wade in Chicago last June, when they were still under contract with their teams. Also, published reports indicated that James was involved in a meeting with Heat president Pat Riley and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan last November during a Cavs trip to Miami. That report came from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which also reported in July that Wade and Bosh flew to Akron to meet with James at his home a month earlier -- before the beginning of free agency July 1.
Stern has previously defended players' rights to discuss future plans among themselves, but stated during a playoff appearance in Philadelphia last month, "If there was tampering that someone could prove, that would make my blood boil.”
The NBA does not investigate possible instances of tampering without a formal complaint from a team.
Posted on: May 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 7:04 pm
MIAMI – Driven by record TV ratings in the conference finals and worldwide interest in the Miami Heat’s quest for a championship, the NBA will embark Tuesday on a heavily anticipated NBA Finals. It should be good, and it better be. This could be the last competitive NBA event for a long time.
The Heat vs. the Mavericks promises the kind of drama that can cement a sport in the nation’s consciousness for years. And yet the league continues to face the very real possibility of a work stoppage, with the negotiating clock at T-minus 30 days and counting.
Publicly, the signals have been decidedly mixed since All-Star weekend in Los Angeles about whether a lockout – presumed inevitable for at least a year – can be averted. The rhetoric was significantly softened at All-Star weekend in February, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver made the most optimistic comments to date at the draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., earlier this month, saying the “throttle is down” on efforts to hammer out a deal before the current one expires June 30.
But those olive branches subsequently were snapped in two by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, who has described the owners’ revised proposal – in which they offered the non-offer of phasing in their draconian changes over several years – as worse than the original one. Last week, the NBPA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging, among other things, that owners have not negotiated in good faith or provided suitable financial proof of their claims that the league is losing hundreds of millions a year under the current system.
So where are we? Thirty days out from what would be a debilitating and foolish display of stubbornness by both sides, sources familiar with the negotiating climate say it isn’t time to panic – but that time is coming soon.
“If there’s going to be a deal, I would say there are tipping points," one person familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com. "One tipping point is June 30. Once you get past June 30, people are inclined to sit around until the next tipping point, which is September.”
While the two sides remain far apart on the issues of a hard cap, reduced player salaries and an eventual elimination of guaranteed contracts, they at least are in agreement that they are farther along in negotiations than they were prior to the 1998-99 lockout, which resulted in a 50-game season. But one of the people familiar with the talks said there has been less progress at this point than there was in 2005, when noxious lockout fumes were in the air and catastrophe was averted with a surprise agreement during the NBA Finals. The owners, clearly, are no longer celebrating that victory, since they are trying to detonate most aspects of the deal that was ratified at that time.
Representatives for the owners and players met for a small bargaining session last week in New York, and a larger session is scheduled when the Finals shift to Dallas for the middle three games next week. Despite immense differences, the dialogue has been consistent for weeks – proof that neither side likes its chances if the dispute follows the NFL path to the courts.
“I think everybody is taking every opportunity right now to see if something can be done without a whole lot of distractions and rhetoric,” a person familiar with the negotiations said.
Developments in the NFL lockout have affected the NBA talks in significant ways. The NFL players’ initial victory in having their decertification validated in court, followed by the owners’ victory in temporarily preventing the lockout from being lifted, has only underscored the notion that commissioner David Stern and Hunter do not want this negotiation taken out of their hands and into the hands of politically appointed judges they don’t know. In some ways, both understand they’ll get a better deal through negotiation between now and July 1 than they’ll get in a courtroom after months of negative publicity and venom.
A ruling on the NBPA’s unfair labor practices charge isn’t expected for 6-8 weeks, sources say, which means the owners may have to decide to impose a lockout without knowing the outcome of the ruling. But the NLRB charge, sources say, has more to do with leverage than outcome. By putting their complaints in writing, the players have put the onus on both sides to hold good-faith negotiations and exchange legitimate proposals until the current deal expires.
“It puts the onus on both sides not to stall,” said another person familiar with the bargaining talks.
Of more importance is a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the validity of the NFL lockout. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard June 3, with a ruling possible before the NBA lockout begins. If the appeals court upholds the portion of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that proclaimed the NFL lockout of a decertified union illegal, leverage in the NBA negotiations would swing significantly toward the players. At that point, the proverbial throttle would be pushed even harder toward a negotiated deal; why would NBA owners want to follow the same futile path through the courts that foiled their NFL counterparts?
A ruling in favor of the owners in the Eighth Circuit would shift the leverage to the NBA owners, and raise the chances of a lockout to a near certainty.
But while there is no disputing the communication and momentum, there are a few problems with comparing the NBA’s current situation to the NFL’s – or even the NBA’s in 1998 and 2005. As for the NFL comparison, legal experts believe the NBA owners would have a better case in the courts because they are claiming to be losing millions under the current system – and have provided audited financial statements and tax returns to prove it. NFL owners don’t claim to be losing money; they just want to make more.
As for comparing this to the NBA’s ’98 or ’05 negotiations, the NBA is in a different place than it was then. In ’98, salaries were out of control and the game was about to embark on the uncertain journey of life without Michael Jordan. In ’05, owners were looking for tweaks to the ’99 agreement. Now, they are looking to permanently and dramatically alter the landscape of the sport.
Which they most certainly will do with a prolonged lockout. They will forfeit the lofty place in the sports world that the NBA finally has attained after the golden era of Magic and Bird and the golden goose that was Jordan. The Finals begin in about 24 hours, but it’s T-minus 30 days and counting to the showdown that matters a lot more.
Posted on: March 5, 2010 1:02 am
MIAMI – After the Lakers sleep-walked through another in a string of sluggish, disinterested starts and lost to a Heat team just happy to be back at .500, did Kobe Bryant think it was panic time?
Did he think the Lakers needed anything dramatic to shake them from their doldrums on the road, where the defending champs are a pedestrian 9-8 this calendar year – with 10 of their next 13 games away from Staples?
After scoring 39 points and hitting the overtime-forcing jumper in his sixth game back from a five-game absence with a nagging assortment of injuries, Bryant’s most astute observation was not about his team, but about the opponent.
The guy who needs a little help was wearing a Miami Heat jersey Thursday night.
“He had 14 assists, but there’s still too much on him,” Bryant said after Wade did it all – 27 points and 14 assists – in Miami’s 114-111 overtime victory over the Lakers. “He literally had to make every play, had to try to penetrate and pitch in. That can wear you down. So hopefully, he’ll get somebody who can step up and make plays and give him a couple of plays off.”
This is a sensitive topic in these parts, and also in a certain city on the Cuyahoga River where free agency D-Day looms. Every crucial Miami basket Thursday night came from Wade or resulted in a play he set up with his play-making dominance. You watch him will his .500 team to a victory over the defending champs, and you wonder: Damn, how good would he be with some help?
In fairness, he got more than usual Thursday night – 25 points from Quentin Richardson, who along with Wade had Ron Artest’s head on a swivel all night. Q-Rich made 7-for-11 from 3-point range, including one off an assist from Wade that gave the Heat a 99-97 lead with 11.1 seconds left. Instead of that being the game-winner, Kobe casually accepted the ensuing inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the court, and drilled the tying jumper over Wade with 3.3 seconds left.
Wade also didn’t have to make the two defensive plays of the night. Those were turned in by Jermaine O’Neal in the final minute of overtime – a chase-down block of Jordan Farmar and a drawn charge against Bryant with 18.7 seconds left. But in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime, nearly every one of Miami’s baskets and scoring opportunities came from Wade. Of course they did. Who else?
“He’s a fantastic player,” Bryant said.
Despite Artest’s interesting comment that the Lakers won’t see Miami again “until June” – what, June 2011? – Wade will have to settle for being fantastic player happy to get the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. And there are no guarantees about that.
“When I had the ball and gave it up to Q to hit that three, that shows my teammates that I’m about winning,” Wade said. “I’m not about, ‘I need to hit this shot because Kobe just hit a shot.’ To me, it’s not about that.”
No, Wade doesn’t want or need Kobe’s pity – and that’s not how Kobe meant it, anyway. Hey, not every superstar has the good fortune of playing with two 7-footers, one of the most dominant shutdown defenders in the league, and a guy named Lamar Odom coming off the bench.
Not every team is so good it can sputter around for three quarters against one of the top three players in the world and still have a chance to win at the end. Cognizant of all this, the Lakers were appropriately nonplused by the evening’s events. The postgame comment that most closely approximated concern was this from Artest: “Unfortunately, I think we took this game lightly. … We have to start winning some games on the road. We have to.”
The only other perceptible bristling in the Lakers’ postgame routine came from Phil Jackson, who just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tweak the referees and invite a sizeable fine for the good of the team. With 29 seconds left in regulation and the Lakers leading 97-96, Bryant air-balled a 20-footer. Only neither Bryant nor Jackson thought it was self-induced.
“Kobe shot an airball, but I’m sure he didn’t shoot an airball,” Jackson said. “It’s unconscionable that that call can’t be made at that point in the game.”
Informed of Jackson’s description, Bryant said, “That’s a good term. A good term. I actually stopped playing for a second. I thought I didn’t hear the whistle, honestly.”
For Bryant, there’s always the next game, with plenty of reinforcements at the ready.
Posted on: February 18, 2010 1:12 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 3:55 pm
Spurned in their efforts to land Amar'e Stoudemire, the Miami Heat engaged the Jazz in "serious, owner-level" discussions to land Utah power forward Carlos Boozer -- an effort that fell flat at Thursday's trade deadline, sources told CBSSports.com.
Posted on: May 3, 2009 5:56 pm
ATLANTA -- It was too early for Dwyane Wade to assess his future plans and those of his team after the Heat were knocked out in the first round with a 91-78 loss to the Hawks on Sunday. Suffice it to say he'll be weighing in with his opinion on what needs to be done to upgrade the talent around him when he meets with team president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison this summer.
"Coach Riley and Mickey Arison make the decisions on this team, and I’ll leave it to them," Wade said. "Of course we have conversations throughout the summer. But at the end of the day, those guys make the decisions."
Wade, who led the Heat from a 15-win season to the playoffs in a year, will have a chance to rest for the first time in 12 months. It's been a long year, and the countdown now will begin to his impending free agency in July 2010, when he can decline a player option for the 2010-11 season.
"I started working out last year to get ready for the Olympics this week," Wade said. "So it’s been a year going strong. But it’s been a great year, from winning the gold medal and coming back this season and beating expectations of what people thought of me and my team."
If Game 7 was any indication, the Heat will need to add a significant piece to complement Wade if they expect him to be enticed to stay in Miami beyond next season. At one point on Sunday, Wade had about half the Heat's points. He would up with 31 of their 78. If he thinks he's tired now, just wait until after another season of that.