Today, the NBA Players Association announced that they would disclaim—meaning they would disband as a union—and file an anti-trust suit against the NBA. Appearing on ESPN, David Stern discussed his reaction to that suit, blaming Billy Hunter for everything and declaring that we are entering the "nuclear winter" of the NBA.
Stern charged, "It's just a negotiating tactic. That's all that it is. That's what we alleged in front of the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). This sham of magically, we're taking a union and we're performing an act of magic and it will become something else, and then we'll negotiate in a court settlement.
Earlier in the interview, Stern stated:
In 2010, their attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, told us that if they didn't like the proposal they got from us, they would disclaim and sue us. That threat has been ongoing until now in spite the NBA's good faith bargaining.
The players, by doing this action, walked away from an offer that would not have had a roll back of contracts, would have guaranteed contracts; it would have taken the average contract from the mid-five range into between seven and eight million dollars over the life of the deal.
We anticipated this and filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations board some time ago, saying that the threat of desertification and its use as a "tactic" really was causing the union to not negotiate in good faith.
Stern seemed to want to put all the responsibility on Billy Hunter, saying, "Billy Hunter has decided to put the season in jeopardy and deprive his union members of an enormous pay date."
Stern said that the anti-trust suit was basically the same suit that the NFL Players Association brought against the NFL in the Eighth Circuit, in which the court "held for the NFL."
"We don't even understand the strategy anymore, but that's what they're doing," Stern jibed. "It gets stranger and stranger, and the chances of the season moving away from us and the players losing all that they have worked very hard to achieve—you know, it's really a tragedy."
Stern charged that the NBA Players Association didn't put it before their players because they were "hopped up" by "Billy Hunter and the lawyers he brought in," telling them that if you don't "get the deal that you want, you disclaim interest and you sue."
Stern declared confidently that, "It's not going to work" and they were "hell-bent on self-destruction"
When asked what happens now, Stern seemed to be speaking to the players in responding, "Lot's of paychecks keep getting missed from players, from players families, from those who are dependent on their living both in arenas and surrounding areas."
"Mr. Kessler got his way and we're about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA."
Later he added "It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy and if I were a player in the NBA, one of the 450, I would be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter just did."
The way this shakes out is that Stern is trying to make Billy Hunter out as a scapegoat. It indicates that the owners' strategy now will be to try and undermine the players' confidence in Hunter and the strategy they are using to generate dissension among the players.